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What Happens When You Have Too Much Pleasure?

What Happens When You Have Too Much Pleasure?

What kinds of pleasure do you seek? How do you know when you’ve had enough pleasure? What happens when you have too much pleasure?

Pleasure is different for different people. Because you’re reading this blog, I’ll assume that food is pleasure to you. But I bet you know people who find food low on their list of delights. Instead they relish swimming laps, reading a novel, watching the NCAA finals, planting flowers or touring Paris. Whatever your choice, you likely anticipate doing it and get a buzz of dopamine thinking about it. Then while you’re engaged in the pleasurable experience, you’re anywhere from happy to ecstatic. And either later that day or sometime in the future, you look back on your enjoyment and smile and smile. 

Does the above happen to you when you’re eating mindlessly or overeating? Perhaps in the first few moments pleasure soars but, as quickly, it wanes. You continue to eat from habit and perhaps to re-experience the pleasure you had in those first few bites. But the pleasure aspect of eating vanishes quickly—in minutes usually—especially when you’re shoveling food into your mouth without tasting it. 

When food no longer tastes heavenly, you’re no longer experiencing pleasure. That phase of eating passes quickly. Then what do you feel when you’re gobbling down what’s in front of you but not actually tasting or enjoying it? Entitled, driven, numb, obsessed? That doesn’t sound like pleasure to me. When you’re on the downhill side of joy and delight, you’re likely experiencing some sort of pain or distress. 

That’s the answer to the question of what happens when you have or seek too much pleasure. You feel pain. Always was the answer and always will be. Think of the formula that too much pleasure equals pain, a pain you know all too well. I remember it myself and can identify with every heart-breaking binge a client describes to me. Not only that, I barely recall the pleasure of my food binges, but the pain of their aftermath will be etched into my brain for my whole life. The point of that pain was to tell me that I had passed the point of no return and had better stop eating. 

How, then, do you know when you’ve had enough pleasure and are fine with stopping eating because you know that consuming more will drive you into both mental and physical torment? You know because the pleasure ends, signifying that you’re done. But you won’t know that unless your appetite is tuned in and paying attention, unless it’s on the look out for when pleasure wanes and pain picks up its pace to replace it. Is such a small bit of pleasure worth all that pain? You don’t really believe it does, do you?