Sep 01, 2010
I’m going to continue talking about the stages one has to go through to be cured of the destructive emotional eating habit, and I will continue to use the comments to the last blog to illustrate what I have to say.
First, I want to remind you that the cure for emotional eating is a psychological cure, and the medicine we use to cure the mind is insight. As I outline the ten essential, and sequential, insights you need to be cured, I want to remind you of the major common sense principle one has to embrace first as the “truth”. If this is not accepted or acceptable, nothing else I have to say will be of any help. This is the only framework that I know that works. Here’s what I said last week:
"If I could boil down what I said in the first blog, my book, and the ShrinkYourself program to its simplest set of incontrovertible facts, it would be the following. There is a reality. Life is complex. You have the intelligence to deal with it, and you must deal with it. You are better off dealing with reality by using the most intelligent part of your mind. Using food to numb the mind in order take away the pain of thinking means you are shutting off the most intelligent part of your mind, and that is almost always costly, and causes unnecessary pain and suffering."
Here is the ten step insight path from food controls me; to I control my life and my weight.
1. I start with the conviction that my urges are too strong — nothing will ever work. I will try again, but I am ready to quit at any time. But others have made this journey, maybe I can.
Sarah represents this starting point when she commented last week, "Your article certainly rings true with me. My problem is that if I want to eat then I must eat. I get massive cravings for crisps, buscuits, chocolates, sandwiches, alcohol, coffee, chips and I just can't say 'no', I know that this sounds like a joke but it isn't. If I get a craving for crisps or chocolate or anything then I will HAVE to have it there and then. There is no stopping me. I can't be shamed out of it. I will eat regardless of where I am or who is watching me. I have no shame but I loathe myself and hate myself and get annoyed at myself for it. Afterwards I beat myself up wondering why I can't stop myself and what is making me do it."
Many others have described their overpowering urges as if there was another person inside of them taking control, making them as powerless as Sarah describes. This is a real feeling, but if you open up your mind a bit, the insight that will help you is; maybe this other person inside of me is me, and it is knowable, not forever hidden from view.
2. I need to eat the way I eat. Don't take it away from me prematurely. It’s too dangerous to learn more about why I need food to control my thoughts and emotions. I might understand what is happening and start moving out of my stuck position. But maybe that is good, not dangerous.
The mtn bike girl said, "I found this article very helpful. I’m starting week 3 and am realizing that I too have been using food to avoid difficult thoughts and feelings. However, as I write these things down, they don’t seem as insurmountable as I had thought they were. In total, they are pretty significant issues, but one at a time, they look manageable. I have been very hard on myself, blaming myself for not having any self-control but now I realize that the problems I’m struggling with are real. I’ve just been using ineffective coping strategies."
3. Now I see clearly why I need food to control my emotions -- I'm willing to question these reasons and look for alternative ways of coping.
Ben said, "Thank you for the thought provoking article. I often use food to numb physical pain minor arthritis. Often I resort to food once Im tired of trying to address the cause of the pain or I begin to beleive that I'm stuck forever with it. However, the article has helped, if for nothing else, because it has reminded me again and made aware of my relationship to food. I know there are better ways to cope and maybe even a solution. Thank you."
4. Maybe I am not so powerless in life that only food can comfort me.
Keri said, "Dear Dr.Gould, I was the second commentator in your last blog. I have read and re-read your comments as they have struck me hard. You are right about thinking itself not being painfulit is dealing with the thoughts and decisions that I might have to make. I am stuck at the stage of binge eating to numb the pain of possible changes in my life. The indecision and procrastination and the feeling that I will never get what I might need or want are keeping me fat and miserable.what a sorry state to be in. I must try to deal with this.thank you."
5. I am confident I can pause and then think instead of eat, but then I need help dealing with my problems.
This is where we want you to be at the end of the first four weeks of Shrink Yourself. You can’t be here 24 hours a day, but at least most of the time. When you are here, then the next four weeks of the program will work, and you could benefit immensely by looking at our companion program, My Virtual Shrink, because it focuses totally and comprehensively on problems in living and helps you answer the three most important questions:
What is bothering me?
What can I do about it?
And why don’t I do it?
The next five insights are relatively easy to learn compared to these first five. It takes concentration and effort, but you are on the downslope after you have done the arduous climb up the first five insights. When you are here, you are already in control, and not so afraid to face the challenges of your life or your feelings because you have been reconnected with the most intelligent part of your mind again. You are absolutely certain there is no other overpowering presence in your mind that makes you eat too much.
6. I'm learning how to face and solve my problems without using food as a safety net.
Liz said, "Great articles. I am a life long dieter and have hit an uncomfortable high weight again! I am emotionally mature enough at the age of 30 to realize I am past step one and am working on using my mind, to stay present, to think through the problems that come my way. I'm looking forward to see what comes next."
7. I am now strong enough in my ability to face problems that I can face my inner critic as well as those in my life that trigger this critic.
Margaret said, "What struck me is our connectedness of emotions, thoughts and body. When I first read your comment that eating soothes the pain of our thoughts, my first reaction was a defensive "no." But as I considered what really happens inside of me, I realized eating does not soothe the pain of my feelings but it drowns out the noise of my critical and negative voice inside of me...It was an 'aha' moment-- so thank you! Understanding that my way of operating was to make food choices, then my inner voice berates me. This is the space where my inner pain comes from, not from the food itself, not from my choices, but from what I say about those choices. This awareness has potential for some self- healing I do believe."
8. I am so good at facing my problems and my critic I don't need food to help me avoid or deny reality.
9. I'm so strong now I can look at the deeper reasons I may have sabotaged myself in the past.
10. I am so confident in my new skills and perspective that a bad food day doesn't scare me. It's just an opportunity to understand what is being stirred up inside me.