I want I want I want
We are encouraged to set goals and climb that mountain to success. We envision a hard ascent through a rough and rocky terrain, but we also picture ourselves reaching the summit in a glow of self accomplishment and satisfaction of success. But what happens after that is the main question. How does our brain handle it when we reach our goals? Are we wired for relaxing for awhile or does our brain keep wanting more and more?
Our Brains on Dopamine
Dopamine is a chemical in our brains that has mostly been associated with pleasure. As scientists have continued to study this chemical, they have found that dopamine is released when you really want something. So, instead of just being a pleasure based hormone, it is actually desire based. What that means for people like you and me is that once we have the drive to set a goal and accomplish it, at the end we have a let down instead of the feeling that we can relax for awhile now and ride out the goal we reached. The truth is, we will want to set another goal and have another mountain to climb.
According to Science
In The Molecule of More, Daniel Z. Lieberman explains that experts that studied the hormone found that when an individual was introduced to something they highly desired, the dopamine surge would diminish after acquisition. Dopamine, it turns out, is not the chemical that gives you pleasure, it’s the chemical that gives you the pleasure of wanting more.
Sabotaging our own Goals
Most of us already realize that reaching a goal we have set will not give us the feeling of success we were hoping for. The brain takes this let down at the end of our accomplishments very seriously. This vicious circle of desire, acquire, and let down starts to sabotage what we really want. Though we’d like to sit back with contentment in our lives, our desire for more and more can be tiring. This is how we secretly sabotage our own wants, we know it won’t be enough.
What is Happening in our Brains?
When we start to run after our desires, many different things start to occur within us. Our minds know that there will be a let down after we arrive where we have set out to be.
- Fear creeps in and we may actually slow down our efforts.
- We see others that have what we want and resentment can build.
- When we get what we want, we also fear losing it, pushing it away even.
- We have a difficulty shifting from wanting to having.
Having a strong desire for something may lead us to also have unrealistic expectations of what it will be like to actually have it. We imagine that our lives will be better and may even think that this one thing is the answer to all of our problems. Our expectations can become really high and unrealistic.
The problem with this growing expectation is that it is fantasy. Having one thing that you want, a house, a partner, a new job, none of this can change every problem you have in your life. We may even tie up our self worth into the having or not having what we want. Each set back can be a blow to our self esteem. We become our desire.
However long it takes you to reach your goal, there will be disappointment in the end. The initial joy will be short lived as you slowly realize that all the expectations you have built up in your mind aren’t being realized. This is often seen as a failure in our own minds.
Surviving Your Goals
In conclusion, there are several things that we can do to be happy with our accomplishments and not sabotage how and when we achieve them. Keeping your expectations realistic will help to not have a let down effect at the end of your goal. Realize that there will be a transition period from wanting to having and that the change is often difficult, requiring patience. Anything that is new can be uncomfortable simply because we haven’t experienced it before. Give some time to simply accept the changes and eventually this too will be familiar and comfortable. Self sabotaging is a complicated issue, but understanding how your brain is working against you at times, can help to encourage your success.