For much of her adult life, my mother has suffered from what I could call an "over-stimulation/under-stimulation" conflict. In layman's terms, that would mean that she is easily overwhelmed by too many things going on, but also easily bored. This conflict has pretty much ruled her life and her moods for as long as I have been self-aware enough and mature enough to understand her behavior.
Because of this personality tendency, my mother is rarely satisfied with what she is doing or where she is. It has manifested itself in a desire to never remain at home, but really have no goal outside of the house other than to seek novelty. She wants to go to movies, local theater productions or concerts, eat out at restaurants, and, especially, shop. When her nervous system becomes overwhelmed with too much stimulation, she lashes out at others and blames them for things which are not their fault. A metaphor for this might be that she is a glass that fills rapidly and overflows (causing a negative emotional outburst) and then empties and immediately seeks to be refilled again.
This is a cycle that I am aware of in myself and have been for some time. One might conclude that this is a biological inevitability, but I don't accept that. For one thing, I have noticed that my actions can either exacerbate or slow down this tendency. It's as if feeding it makes it worse and starving it makes it better. If I don't strike out in 10 directions to act on my need for stimulation, the next time I might need only to strike out in 1 direction. The more I act on my boredom in a destructive manner, the more I build the tendency to be stuck in this cycle.
One of the things about this sort of predisposition is that food tends to factor into it rather heavily. Eating as a form of stimulation is something which is easy and gratifying if you need to be constantly occupied. I've also come to realize as of late that the tendency to multi-task or to attend to disparate tasks simultaneously rather than focusing on one thing at a time is a part of this character tendency. Eating is often a way of stimulating yourself positively on top of other types of things like watching television, reading, or even talking to other people. Many of us aren't happy unless almost all of our senses are engaged at once - seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling. Eating while taking part in entertaining activities gratifies this need.
As I have mentioned before, I think the potential to succeed in the long term with my weight loss is heavily dependent on understanding the underlying behavior which causes me to overeat. In terms of the psychological puzzle, I think this tendency to be in an over-stimulation/under-stimulation conflict is a component. I've also mentioned that stress causes all animals to eat and there is little more stressful than this situation when you are feeling overwhelmed.
In order to reduce my overall desire to over-stimulate myself and to focus on calming my mind and "training" it to be more satisfied with quiet and peace, I'm going to reduce multi-tasking in my life in a purposeful manner. That is not to say I will eliminate it all. For instance, I never watch television with my full attention and I don't think it is engaging enough to keep me fully occupied. However, I am going to be mindful of those situations where I'm scattering my focus when I may be better served by emptying my thoughts.
For starters, I'm going to begin by lifting weights for the limited duration that I do so with my eyes closed and with my mind at rest rather than watching T.V. or reading while I do it. The idea is not to be so interested in the activity itself, but rather to take part in a purposeful exercise where I'm fully engaged with the activity. I'm not a person who empties my thoughts easily, and it's one of the reasons that meditation has always been hard for me. I have found though that visualizing the ideas that pop into my head as leaves falling from a tree (as they do in autumn) often helps clear my mind (essentially, allowing the thoughts to drift down and away when they cloud my mind), as does focusing on some aspect of nature like a waterfall or a tree.
Considering the way in which I have used food to help satisfy my need to have my senses saturated, I'm hoping that focusing on single tasking and this sort of full concentration on some tasks will begin a process in which I seek less simultaneous stimulation. I want to train my mind to be gratified with less and to remain in the moment. It is my hope that this will draw me to food less and less as a form of simple sensory stimulation.