As of late, I’ve been trying to avoid buffering.
What is buffering, you should probably ask.
Well, buffering is what we do when we don’t want to do what we should be doing. Did I lose you?
According to Brooke Castillo, who runs The Life Coach School, where I trained, this is what buffering is:
“Buffering is something we do to avoid fully experiencing our lives that has a negative consequence. Overeating, over drinking, overspending – anything done to excess and at your expense.” (taken from her podcast guide book “Celebrating 200 Episodes! Wisdom from the Life Coach School Podcast”).
Like I said, it’s whatever we do when we don’t want to be doing (or feeling, I’ll come back to this one) what we should be doing.
I knew I was doing this before I started listening to Brooke. I just didn’t know what it was called.
While we were renovating our townhouse in Northern VA and I was often finding myself having to do things that I didn’t know how to do, I would buffer big time. With food. Just one little bowl of cereal and then I’ll go get that trim on the island installed turned into three bowls of cereal, if I’m being honest. I mostly hated myself for it, but at the time, I didn’t think there was anything to do about it.
I’ve since learned that I was buffering, trying to avoid the discomfort of figuring out how to get jobs done around the house (we basically split up jobs with our contractor – I did everything I could conceivably do with the help of YouTube and my sister and he did everything else). Or perhaps I was trying to avoid the feelings I was experiencing at the time – discomfort and stress at the thought that I needed to do something I didn’t quite know how to do. Worry that it wouldn’t turn out looking right. Worry that I’d have to figure out a different solution or pay our contractor to redo the job. It was stress and I somehow, illogically, thought that a few bowls of cereal might help. It didn’t.
I wa so happy to learn about buffering and what I need to do to avoid it. Seriously. Because I realized that this terrible habit of stopping by the kitchen pantry anytime I was feeling overwhelmed just wasn’t working for me. At one point, I thought, “well, I guess this is the only house we’re going to remodel because I can’t keep on eating three bowls or more of cereal each day (in addition to the food I was eating at the regular meal times).”
I was making myself a complete prisoner to this idea that I should eat something (usually sweet!) to avoid discomfort. It was as though I wasn’t choosing, I was handing over my decision making capabilities to someone or something else. I don’t recommend you try this. It’s not pleasant.
I know better now. When I realized that my trips to the pantry for more cereal were really just a way for my brain to avoid the uncomfortable feelings associated with doing jobs that I didn’t really know how to do, I decided I could make a different choice.
This different choice started with processing those negative feelings, instead of trying to avoid them. Because avoiding or resisting feelings really just makes them get stronger. If we are willing to feel our feelings and fully experience them, they actually lessen and then go away. And sometimes they go away very quickly. It’s so much easier than the whole resisting game I was playing before. Follow along to the next blog post, where I’ll describe exactly what it looks like to process emotion. This is going to be a game changer.
When I’m willing to feel any feeling, there’s nothing to buffer against, so those buffering habits really just lose their grip on my life and my brain. There’s nothing to hide from. It’s a beautiful thing.