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Why Quitting Gaming is so Hard

Playing video games is a sort of security blanket, a surrogate mother, wrapping you in its embrace when you don’t want to face life’s problems.

This escape hatch for life’s problems feels safe. It reduces anxiety since you know you can fall back into gaming’s warm embrace.

You become satisfied with working just enough to survive in order to spend the rest of your time gaming. It’s like this verse from the King of Queens show theme song:

I’m sittin’ here in traffic,
On the Queensborough bridge tonight,
But I don’t care cuz all I wanna do,
Is cash my check and drive right home to you,
Cuz baby all my life I will be driving home to you

Except instead of driving back to a loving spouse, it’s gaming–an all-consuming habit.

But you’ve been gaming for so long that this habit releases dopamine while also relaxing you. Over the years, your brain becomes rewired so that these pleasurable feelings are amplified due to neuroplasticity.

It feels like losing a best friend

This is why it feels like losing a best friend or loved one when you quit games. When your thoughts drift to pleasurable memories of gaming, you’re struck with melancholy as you realize you can’t return to games without relapsing and having to start over.

You have all of these pleasant memories of gaming. And if you’ve gamed most of your life, most of your memories may revolve around games. This leaves you feeling that you can only be happy while gaming. But this is a lie.

Fulfillment without games

It will be depressing at first, especially the first few weeks without games. But don’t believe the lie that you can’t achieve happiness without games.

You will experience a deeper sense of fulfillment through building real-life skills than you ever did with games. But this is difficult to explain in words and is something you must experience to appreciate.

This deeper sense of fulfillment starts to take hold after your first few months. Give yourself at least 90 days before expecting a reward while working on real-life skills that fit your life’s task.

Your life’s task, or mission, takes time to realize. Experiment with learning different skills to see which ones energize you and feel effortless.

Once you start building the skill set in line with your life’s task, you experience a slower burning gratification. And just like with the gaming habit, the more time you invest in a real life skill, the more pleasurable it becomes.

The gratification return on time investment is a steeper curve than gaming, but unlike gaming, it’s sustainable.

Gaming slowly erodes your quality of life. Building a skill in line with your mission slowly improves your quality of life.

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