The Slippery Slope of Indulgence: Recognizing and Overcoming Cravings 

We all have our vices – whether it’s a weakness for salty snacks, an addiction to online shopping, or a pattern of Friday nights out drinking with friends. While an occasional indulgence can be harmless, for some individuals, the pattern of overindulgence can become problematic and detrimental to their well-being. 

The Neuroscience of Craving 

Indulgence is one of the six facets of the “Stress Quotient” factor of the Big 5 personality model. Those who score high on Indulgence tend to experience powerful, hard-to-resist cravings that frequently lead to overindulgent behaviors. This inclination is often rooted in a propensity toward short-term gratification over long-term consequences. 

The signs of indulgence manifest across various domains – substance abuse, compulsive gambling, emotional or binge eating, workaholism, and more. While the objects of desire may differ, the underlying drive to satiate an urge remains consistent despite potential negative impacts. 

At its core, indulgence behaviors serve as an attempt to fill an emotional void, escape reality, or self-soothe in the face of stress, anxiety, or other difficult emotions. However, as the cycle perpetuates, the temporary relief gives way to shame, guilt, and a deepening of the issues the indulgent behavior was meant to ameliorate. 

Breaking the Cycle 

Overcoming the gravitational pull of indulgence requires a multi-pronged approach rooted in self-awareness, accountability, and developing healthier coping strategies. Here are some key steps: 

1. Identify your triggers: Become attuned to the situations, emotions, or environmental cues that activate your cravings. Awareness is the first step towards change. 

2. Practice mindfulness: When urges arise, pause and observe the craving without judgment. Mindfulness can disrupt the automation of indulgent patterns. 

3. Seek support: Whether it’s a therapist, support group, or trusted friends and family, having a network to provide accountability and encouragement is invaluable. 

4. Explore alternatives: Devise a toolbox of alternative activities or behaviors to substitute when cravings strike. Exercise, creative hobbies, or simply stepping outside can redirect your energy. Become intentional at choosing one of your tools to utilize when the urge arises.  

5. Be patient and persist: Dismantling deeply ingrained habits takes time and commitment. Celebrate small victories and treat setbacks as opportunities to learn and adjust your approach. 

While overcoming indulgence is rarely linear, the rewards of breaking free from compulsive behaviors that compromise your well-being are immense. By cultivating self-compassion, determination, and a willingness to explore the root causes driving your indulgences, you can reclaim control and live a life aligned with your authentic values. 

Steve Utech

Steve Utech

Steve’s life mission is to unlock the mysteries of complex human interactions to make people’s work and personal relationships more meaningful, productive, and satisfying. All things niche and complex are food for his ADHD brain. He’s a geek at heart with irreverent humor, but also has a deep love of people. An experienced leader in the areas of culture optimization, organizational effectiveness, and team development, Steve is the visionary and founder of illumyx. His background in both the hard sciences and the art of family dynamics allows him to take a behavioral and systematic approach to organizational change and transformation. He has worked with Fortune 1000 organizations and executives in a variety of sectors to help them optimize their culture and achieve results. Steve holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Denver in Colorado and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. An adventurer at heart, Steve spends his free time exploring nature with his 4 kids and anyone up for testing their limits. He enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, and finding brief moments of rhythm out on the dance floor. Above all, he enjoys seeing people grow and develop by giving them the freedom to explore and try new things. As someone once put it, “Steve makes it safe to be dangerous.”
Steve Utech

Steve Utech

Steve’s life mission is to unlock the mysteries of complex human interactions to make people’s work and personal relationships more meaningful, productive, and satisfying. All things niche and complex are food for his ADHD brain. He’s a geek at heart with irreverent humor, but also has a deep love of people. An experienced leader in the areas of culture optimization, organizational effectiveness, and team development, Steve is the visionary and founder of illumyx. His background in both the hard sciences and the art of family dynamics allows him to take a behavioral and systematic approach to organizational change and transformation. He has worked with Fortune 1000 organizations and executives in a variety of sectors to help them optimize their culture and achieve results. Steve holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Denver in Colorado and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. An adventurer at heart, Steve spends his free time exploring nature with his 4 kids and anyone up for testing their limits. He enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, and finding brief moments of rhythm out on the dance floor. Above all, he enjoys seeing people grow and develop by giving them the freedom to explore and try new things. As someone once put it, “Steve makes it safe to be dangerous.”
Max Kresch

Max finds creative problem solving deeplyfulfilling is highly disciplined in his approach to research. He brings an advanced mathematics background to illumyx with significant experience in machine learning techniques, computer programming, and complex statistical analysis.

 

Max has experience working on complex Department of Defense projects and he recently transitioned his career into social science research. An erstwhile lecturer on data science at the University of Wisconsin, Max is gifted at communicating complex topics in easy-to-understand ways. Max assists the team in survey analysis and reporting and provides oversight on research design and analysis.


A father of two with a passion for music. In his free time, you’ll find him at a local park with his kids, cruising on his rollerblades, or jamming on his guitar with one of several bands he plays in. 

Max Kresch, PhD

Senior Data Scientist

Andrew Fleck

Andrew (Drew) Fleck, PhD, is a results-oriented organizational leader, certified executive coach, behavioral scientist, consultant, and entrepreneur. Drew is driven to add value to peoples’ lives by helping them become more self-sufficient. No matter what role he plays, he focuses on helping clients build strategic foresight into their organizations. He is a natural collaborator who looks for opportunities to partner and build-up others’ skill, knowledge, and confidence.

 

Drew is highly pragmatic and objective with a unique ability to think clearly under pressure. We can thank the US Air Force for that trait.  His studies and practical experience make him an expert in leadership, learning, organization design, organization development, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Over his career, he performed a number of strategic roles that aligned him with his love for travel and learning about different people and cultures.  He has a reputation for transforming organizational systems from a reactionary transactional approach to a proactive strategic approach.

 

Drew started his career in High Tech, but has since worked across a variety of industry and government sectors. Drew holds Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University and a Master’s in Management and Organizational Behavior from Silver Lake College.

Andrew Fleck, Ph.D.

Chief Behavioral Scientist

Kristy Krautkramer

Kristy is a highly organized, strategic thinker and planner. She helps bring focus and levity to the nerd kingdom at illumyx. Committed and caring are two words that describe her best and she has endless energy to support projects and causes she believes in. Her background in music, teaching, and finance brings greater efficiency and harmony to illumyx’ processes and team interactions.

 

Kristy leads operations for the illumyx team, specializing in administrative functions that include finance, HR, and employee onboarding. Her love for order and accuracy frequently find her leading qualitative analysis projects for illumyx.  A former educator, Kristy has a Master’s degree in Education from St.Norbert College.  


Kristy is the mother of four boys. She often unwinds by hosting large gatherings for family and friends, having a good laugh, enjoying a glass of wine (or a swig of tequila), and diving into niche romance novels.

Kristy Krautkramer, M.A.​

Business Specialist & Qualitative Research Analyst

Dan Ritter

Dan is a data geek with a passion for computational social science and its applications in the workplace. Dan has never been a fan of the left-brain vs right-brain dichotomy–he is a dedicated all-brainer. He believes in the power of data to help us better understand human behavior at scale, and also that a healthy dose of humanity is required to accurately interpret data and apply insights with wisdom and tact.

 

Two of his favorite quotes sum up his approach to work:

 

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion,” W. Edwards Demming

 

“...people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” Maya Angelou.


In his free time, Dan enjoys wilderness camping with his family, reading, and tinkering with anything that can be taken apart. A lifelong learner, he holds a BA in Education, is currently pursuing his MS in Data Science, and has amassed a growing collection of certificates from fine institutions around the country.

Dan Ritter

Director of People Analytics

Steve Utech

Steve’s life mission is to unlock the mysteries of complex human interactions to make people’s work and personal relationships more meaningful, productive, and satisfying. All things niche and complex are food for his ADHD brain. He’s a geek at heart with irreverent humor, but also has a deep love of people. An experienced leader in the areas of culture optimization, organizational effectiveness, and team development, Steve is the visionary and founder of illumyx.

 

His background in both the hard sciences and the art of family dynamics allows him to take a behavioral and systematic approach to organizational change and transformation. He has worked with Fortune 1000 organizations and executives in a variety of sectors to help them optimize their culture and achieve results. Steve holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Denver in Colorado and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota.

 

An adventurer at heart, Steve spends his free time exploring nature with his 4 kids and anyone up for testing their limits. He enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, and finding brief moments of rhythm out on the dance floor.

 

Above all, he enjoys seeing people grow and develop by giving them the freedom to explore and try new things. As someone once put it, “Steve makes it safe to be dangerous”.

Steve Utech, MSW

Founder, CEO, and Director of Consulting​

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