Lesson From A Mob Wife: The Psychology of Instant Gratification

Reality television does more than just entertain us. Many of these shows actually teach us a thing or two about cooking (Food Network’s Chopped, Iron and Master Chef), managing a business (Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares, Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible and Bravo’s Tabatha’s Salon Take Over), and about the challenge of overcoming addiction, like VH1’s Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab, Hoarders, and A&E’s Intervention.

But, is there something to learn from the lives of the women of VH1’s Mob Wives? Apparently, yes. Outside of their mob connections, these “hell on heels” women have to cope with issues of self-esteem, addiction, parenting and relationship, like many people.

Mob Wives (MWs) Season 1 ended with Renee Graziano’s “girls” (MW’s Karen, Carla, and Drita) urging her to return to the dating scene. Renee’s father, Anthony Graziano, and ex-husband, Junior are both mafia members. Anthony was a high ranking member of La Cosa Nostra according to the Federal Government and is currently serving time in North Carolina. Renee’s ex-husband Junior was arrested in January of 2011 in the largest mafia bust in New York City’s history

Mob Wives Season 2 opened with Renee Graziano getting a complete plastic surgery body makeover to help her to feel more attractive and desirable to the opposite sex. Shortly, after surgery, Renee’s stitches in her back ripped open. She was rushed to the ER and lost 6.3 pints of blood. “I knew something was wrong,” she admits. “I felt my life slipping. I felt everything drain out of my body. I knew I was dying.” Renee’s battle to stay alive required a 16-day hospital stay.

Why did Renee choose plastic surgery instead of diet and exercise to get her body into the shape she desired? “I wanted instant gratification“, she said. Renee wanted to lose 35 Lb “today, not tomorrow”. Unfortunately, she got more than which she had bargained. Her emotional scars rival the scarring from her extensive surgery.

The Psychology of Instant Versus Delayed Gratification

Instant Gratification is the desire to get immediate satisfaction by acting in a certain fashion. You hope to achieve quick happiness and also to relieve the pressure of a need or impulse.  All of us give in to a need or impulse at times that may not fit into our long-term goals or be good for us. Just this past holiday, I indulged myself with more sweets than was good for me, resulting in a migraine. Short-term pleasure short-circuited my better judgment.

Instant gratification is a problem when it’s more your mode of operating  than a diversion. If you tend to solve more serious problems of physical or mental health, relationship, or finance through a quick fix mindset, you are apt to bring about consequences that negatively affect you in the long-run. This is what Renee Graziano found out.

This also calls to mind the three people who died following a sauna-based spiritual cleansing ceremony that was led by self-help guru Arthur Ray. These persons paid $10,000 dollars to get spiritually-cleansed over a long weekend. Instead, they lost their lives

In contrast, delayed gratification is the ability to weigh the consequences of what feels good at the moment with what benefits you for the future. You have to be able to keep your goals in mind, while considering the risks and benefits of acting in one way versus another.

We know much more today about the thought and emotional processes that give us the ability to weigh the pros and cons of solving a problem for immediate versus delayed reward. Research has found that there are differences in the brain activity of people considering solutions that offer delayed versus instant reward. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shows that the region of the brain that is involved in planning, imagination, logic and reasoning, and inhibition of impulse (the brain’s frontal lobes) has more active connections to the emotional center of the brain (the brain’s Limbic Structures). The emotional you is able to converse with the reasoning part of you, and vice versa, balancing out your emotions with reason.

For example, I taught myself how to walk away from that pretty dress at Nordstrom that seemed as if it were made just for me. By changing my language, I learned how to create a connection between the emotional and logical me. My emotional brain said, “What a beautiful dress; I’d look good in it. It’s my colors; oh, they only have one of it in my size. I have to buy it now. Never mind that it doesn’t fit into my budget this month. I’ll work it out.”

I changed my language, to resist my impulse. “It will be there tomorrow,” I said. Suddenly, my emotional and reasoning brain started to converse. “There’s always a beautiful dress. You know better than this. Wait until you feel better about buying it.

What did I do that helped me to delay gratification of an impulse? By changing my language, I balanced out the value that I placed on happiness today for happiness tomorrow. The emotional brain wants to spend more than we have, eat that extra dessert, and do whatever else is needed to feel good. While the rational brain says stop and think how this affects your goals and self-esteem in the days that follow.

If you have a tendency toward instant gratification, don’t despair. You can learn how to wait, to control your tendency to jump at a quick fix for your problems. Choose to minimize the bad things that happen to you.

The following will help you to strengthen connections between your emotional and rational brain regions. The next time you want to spend more money than you have, eat that extra dessert, tell off your boss, or get a beauty procedure that poses a risk to your health, you will have tools to cut your impulse off at the pass.

Delay Gratification of Impulse and Reward: Create A Connection Between Your Emotional and Reasoning Brain Parts

  1. Know When Your Emotions Are Taking You Over. You have to become present to thoughts, feelings and behaviors that alert you to highly charged emotions that may cause you to act impulsively. Black and white, all or nothing statements like, “I want it now; I can’t wait, It will change my life for the better, solve all of my problems; and I can’t live without it are signals that your emotional brain is taking over. You have to acknowledge the emotional scripts that cause you to act impulsively.
  2. Change Your Language, Diffuse Emotions, and Create a Hookup to Your Rational Mind. Find a statement that you can say to yourself that stops your emotional brain in its tracks. With regard my example about the dress, I made a decision to implement this strategy at some point, and then started to live by it. It worked, for me. You have to find what works for you. Create a rational script that opens up your reasoning process. By changing the language around your need and desire, you  diffuse emotions. Now, when your reasoning brain gives you a call, you can hear it! It’s like strengthening a muscle. The more you practice, the greater connections you will form between your emotional and rational brain areas.
  3. Learn to Value Your Future. People who are inclined to act impulsively have poorly defined goals and values for the future. You have to give your reasoning brain something important to say when it calls on you. Identify your most important goals and values. What you perceive is important to you determines how you act with regard to your problems. It’s easier to act with purpose if you know what is most important to you in the long run.  Clarify your values and goals, and then, actively try to live by them.

I hope you enjoyed my post today. There is much to learn from popular culture, if we reflect deeply on it. If you like my post today, please say so by selecting the “Like” button that immediately follows. I welcome your thoughts, experiences, and comments. Warmly, Deborah



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7 Responses to “Lesson From A Mob Wife: The Psychology of Instant Gratification”

  1. avatar Ron Cummings says:

    Thank you for that blog, I find that I often deal with this issue being single I want it when I want it and nobody can tell me any different.

    Realizing this could be a problem I decided that I would not buy anything that was not on sale so I would walk away. In doing so I realized after a time that I found the object or item was really not that important to me, thus I saved my money, and relieved myself of the stress had I bought it in the first place.(buyers remorse) As a result the item either lost it’s allure or it had gone on sale, either way I felt good about my decision. This doesn’t work 100% of the time but for the most part it has helped.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      I agree Ron. I like what you say about the item or object “losing its allure” once you balance your emotions with reason. Well-said. Thank you for visiting Ron. Warmly, Deborah

  2. avatar prince says:

    excellent article ,after very hard work i found it….superb

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      So great that you were able to link up what you want with what is good for your whole being. That’s wonderful, Prince. Your desire to learn new ways that benefit you is admirable. Not everyone chooses to do this. Thank you for visiting. Hope to see you here again. Warmly Deborah.

      • avatar prince says:

        first of all lot of thanks ,that you reply my post ,most of people do not do this . i have one problem , i want to deal with my unhelpful,self destructive ,nonconstructive urges like overeating ,over self stimulation (masturbation),surfing net etccccc. what can i change about it or what cannot i change about my such urges,can you help me?

        • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

          Hello prince! I’m always pleased to reply; that’s what this is all about–connection. I think the ideas in this article on instant gratification can help you to understand what you are trying to cope with and change. I admire that you want to control your impulses. You want to be the captain of your ship, rather than be a victim of impulses that pull you toward the gratifications that you say here. Prince, one of the things about impulses is that they do not like a calm, centered mind. Because thoughtful reflection puts a stop to them.

          There is no easy fix to this problem. But, there is most definitely a solution. Are you willing to put in the time and effort to become less a victim of your impulses? If you are, here is the remedy.

          1). You must begin to calm your mind and body so that your impulses do not have a chance to take you over. This is a youtube video link on a deep breathing, calming exercise called Alternate Nostril Breathing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cnNf_9qk-Y ) I recommend you practice this two times per day daily. Also, when you feel very drawn to an impulse to over eat or self-stimulate — do this exercise. It will lower the tendency to gratify yourself because you will be less tense and relaxed. Remember, the addictive, impulsive behaviors you mention here take hold of you because you are tense. They are tension-reducers. thus, you want to compete with them by introducing a healthier tension-reducer.

          2). I have two articles that I want you to read on this site. Perhaps, you have already read them. But, the ideas in these articles are exactly what you need to become less impulsive and to connect up your mind with your emotional response (what I talk about in this post).http://www.psychologyineverydaylife.net/2012/10/25/self-talk-what-you-say-to-yourself-about-you-matters-dr-deborah-khoshaba/ and the post on mindfulness:http://www.psychologyineverydaylife.net/2012/11/10/become-mindful-dr-deborah-khoshaba/

          Regards to you Prince. Let me know how it goes for you. Warmly Deborah.

          • avatar prince says:

            hello dr deborah-khoshaba ,i really appreciate your advice from bottom of my heart ,i would try my best and let you know about it . thanks


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