The weekend can be a difficult time for us NoFappers - particularly those of us who struggle with depression and social anxiety. In this post I'm going to provide some helpful tips that might make your weekends a little bit better! Where Destructive Thoughts Come From The mind of an addict is an interesting thing. We feel like we don't have control - like our brains are making us act on our addiction. In truth, our brains are simply prodding us (in some cases very strongly). At some level, however, we still have control over our addiction. I just watched an interesting video with Jeffrey Scwartz (courtesy of this thread), author of "You are not your Brain" explains what are called "Cognitive Distortions" - misguided thought patterns that cause anxiety, depression and feelings of powerlessness. The diagram below shows some examples. Any seem familiar to you ? The point is, our brains are very adept at tricking us into thought patterns that have been ingrained in us for various reasons. Some of these thought patterns are helpful, but many are harmful and destructive. Mindfulness - A First Step to Overcoming Destructive Thoughts A solution to the problem that Dr. Schwartz and countless other scientists advocate - both secular and religious - is meditation or some other kind of mindfulness exercise. Meditation can take many forms, whether it's consciously focusing on a normally mindless task (like eating, washing dishes, cleaning) or traditional, sitting-cross-legged-and-focusing-on-your-breath meditation. The benefit of mindfulness is that it makes you consciously study a behavior you have that is otherwise automatic. Normally a lot of the simple things you do each day "fly under the radar" - brushing teeth, taking a shower etc. You're so used to them that there's no need to consciously focus on performing the actions that make up the activity. By mindfully studying an activity, you effectively teach your brain to "critically think" about otherwise-passive activities. The Science of Mindfulness In her book "The Willpower Instinct", Kelly McGonigal discusses a similar phenomenon to Jeffery Schwartz - the brain has "conscious" and "subconscious" parts, and both play a role. The "conscious" brain helps us solve complex tasks, while the "subconscious" runs all the "background processes" and automates many of our behaviors But why does the brain have two parts? Why don't we just take care of everything with our conscious mind? Simple! Energy expenditure. Our conscious mind uses way more energy than our subconscious. The learning process goes something like this: Say you're a toddler and you're learning how to walk. You've never done it before! How on earth do you do something so complicated? Simple! You try and fail countless times. And when you do something right, your brain registers it as correct, and "rewards you" with dopamine. Then it "saves" the thing you did correctly in the subconscious brain, so that next time you expend less mental energy doing the action. The same goes for habits - good and bad. The first time I smoked a cigarette, I did it fully conscious. But after the first few, it was all subconscious. Make the Your Habits Conscious Again! The trick then is to make your habits conscious. And the best way to make difficult and powerful bad habits into conscious ones, is by practicing conscious habit execution on smaller, simpler habits! This is why mindfulness works. It teaches you how to dissect your automated actions that you can analyze and study. You can use this kind of mindfulness to overcome Cognitive Distortions that lead you to failure in your commitments. But remember - this kind of mindfulness takes energy too! Meditation can be very tiring at first. That's why I recommend starting small - I only meditate about 1 minute a day! And let yourself rest if you're mentally drained - naps are amazing. For more info on Small Habits and Resting, check the posts in my signature! Stay strong and have a great weekend fellow NoFappers!