If you’re reading this then I’m sure you’ve felt it.The drive to eat something even when you’re not hungry. Or the drive to eat a larger portion than you need.
(Note: I’m using the example of overeating, because that’s my experience, but you can substitute over drinking or gambling or shopping too much for that word. A habit is a habit is a habit. They all come from the same place: thinking.)
It’s likely that you’ve done various things to deal with this feeling. Used different coping mechanisms or strategies. Maybe you’ve also had lots of feelings about it. I certainly have.
Some of the things that might happen as a result of that drive to overeat are:
- feelings of shame
- feelings of helplessness
- beating ourselves up
- going on a diet and white-knuckling it
- giving in and feeling relief
- and then feeling more shame or regret
- wondering if anyone else feels this way
- wondering how it is that your friends who are thin don’t seem to feel that same drive
- hiding your eating from others
If you’ve been exploring the Inside-Out Understanding for a while, you may have caught on that one of the foundational principles is this: we live in the feeling of our thinking, not in the feeling of our experiences.
What that means is that everything we think and then feel about the drive to eat comes from within.
But without knowing that we’ve likely been caught for years battling the list of thoughts and feelings I’ve noted above, and others that I haven’t mentioned.
For example, I spent a number of years tackling the shame related to the drive to overeat and to being overweight. I read Brene Brown’s books and learned lots about self-compassion. I read Tara Brach’s book on radical self-acceptance.
But, as ever, trying to wrestle with those feelings of shame was like playing a game of whack-a-mole. I’d bop one feeling on the head, thinking I’d gotten rid of it or healed it, only to have another, or the same one, pop up again.
Set It Down
What I’m learning from the 3 Principles is an entirely different approach. And it’s so contrary to my task-oriented fix-it approach that it’s taking a little getting used to.
But what I am experiencing is that when I set down my thoughts and attendant feelings about food, weight and overeating I begin to suffer less. My feelings and thoughts have less weight (sorry) now.
What I’m beginning to see is that we are by nature whole and healthy. I don’t have any irrevocable proof for that, other than a firm belief that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. And that the spiritual essence in each of us can never be damaged.
I do notice that when I stop fighting with my thoughts and feelings they settle down and fade away much more quickly that when I wrestle with them.
Dr. Amy Johnson uses the metaphor of a snow globe for this phenomenon. If the flakes in a snow globe are swirling around we don’t have to do anything to make the swirling stop, other than set the globe down. The snow will settle on its own.
I see our thoughts and feelings about overeating like the snow in that snow globe. When we try to make the feelings and thoughts go away, we’re unintentionally and innocently shaking up the globe even more. Then we have a bigger, faster snowstorm to deal with.
I spent this past weekend with a friend. He’s six feet tall and weighs less than I do at my 5 feet 3 inches. And when we’re sharing a meal together I can see that he feels zero drive to overeat. It just doesn’t occur to him to want more food than his body needs. It’s baffling to me, someone who has a voice in her head when it comes to food screaming, “That’s not enough! More! You need more! This is a matter of life and death!”
I confess that it’s hard not to feel shame in that situation. And in fact, I did feel shame and many other uncomfortable thoughts and feelings this weekend.
But because I know where my thoughts are coming from, I let them be. I didn’t wrestle with them.
I’m still learning, still waiting for insight about how to change my eating habits and lose weight.
And in the meantime, what I do know to do is not worry about my drive to overeat. Like any thought or feeling, it’s temporary. And the more I see that, the more I expect the weight loss / food snowstorm in my particular snow globe will settle down.
PS If you haven’t read it yet, I highly, highly recommend Dr. Amy Johnson’s book The Little Book of Big Change, which is all about changing habits like overeating.
Also if you’ve already read it, try reading it again. I read it for the first time two years ago. Now that I’ve learned more about the Principles I’m reading it again and it’s almost a brand-new book to me. I’m getting so much more out of it, because I can see more now about what she’s pointing to.