the itch that never ends


Imagine your wrist is itching right now. It’s the kind of itch that just has to be scratched – it doesn’t matter what you are doing, because the urge to scratch rises up and blocks your ability to concentrate on almost anything else. I am sure you know this feeling – the sudden intensity of the itch narrows your vision to a tunnel. You stop, you scratch, you resume whatever it was you were doing.

Now imagine that keeps happening.
Again and again. You itch at random all over. Your nose itches, you stop and scratch and take ten steps before your knee itches. The aggravation becomes unbearable – every few minutes another urge to scratch, another pulsating itch.

But after a while, a funny thing happens – you are so consumed with scratching and itching that you realize that you can ignore some of the milder itches.
Your mind blocks them out, because otherwise you’re just in a haze, waiting for the next tickle on your shoulder or your ear. You realize, hey, I can block these itches out.

Before long, you are blocking out more and more of these urges to itch.
After a while, you can ignore almost all of them. Your mind learns how to block bigger and bigger urges, until only the most pressing itches needs scratching. One day, you realize that although you still itch all over, you don’t need to scratch anymore. You have conquered the urge and no longer have a knee-jerk reaction when it strikes.

This is more or less the way you need to approach spending if you’re in debt, or eating if you’re trying to lose weight, or getting over a bad habit of any kind. It may seem like an oversimplification but that’s what it is. Your mind is an amazing tool (but also a dangerous one) but you are its master.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Sugar Pond