The first time I ever decided I had a “problem” with my body weight, I was 14.
The usual solution is to follow a diet and exercise program. Right?
I want to weigh less, so I’ll change the food itself and I’ll exercise more. “So simple” we say.
It’s a math problem!
We’ve all heard over and over how food plans and dieting and exercising in ways we find unpleasant and controlling our food doesn’t ultimately work.
It doesn’t get us to where we truly want to be: A person who doesn’t even think about over-eating or under-eating. Someone who doesn’t have a concern or fear or rebellion about eating.
I was once at a conference standing in the tea/coffee line with a doctor, having a lovely conversation. We had a long time, as the line was very long.
When I mentioned that I had an eating disorder for many years, she said “oh, you’ll probably need to be vigilant about that for the rest of your life, right?”
How did I move into a much greater peace with eating, food, and weight?
I worked with the heavy weight of my emotional life. It was very heavy.
I still experience swirling emotions, grief, heartbreak, anger, anxiety, nervousness. These are simply experiences that appear to be common, bubbling and normal for me. I’m not emotion-free.
In fact, in the past, when the weight of my emotional life was so heavy, before turning toward my emotional experience with compassion….
….my goal was to have zero intense emotions.
I could tell they came in and took over, and I wanted to shut it all down.
Who would we be without this story that being upset, troubled or anxious is bad or wrong? Who would we be without the story that the emotional and feeling life is torturous and must be avoided? Who would we be without the thought my feelings are frightening?
It may not feel comfortable, but it does feel human. For me, to be human is to feel. What I notice is….having feelings is a part of reality, whether I like them or not.
You want your body to be thinner?
Let’s turn it around: I want my thoughts about feelings to be thinner. I want emotional experience to be thinner.Just start with ONE fearful or troubling experience. You don’t have to handle all your terrors, upsets or grief at once. Begin with one, and study it, investigate it, chew on it, allow it in, allow it to be digested and to pass through you with understanding.
One of the best ways to do this?
The Work of Byron Katie.
Start with one difficult emotional experience where you felt betrayed, cut off, unloved or hurt, and take it through the four questions, then find turnarounds.
It may be easier to handle than you think.
It’s certainly worth the trip, because on the other side is a relaxation about having emotions without shame, and allowing them to live with compassion.
When this happened for me, I simply didn’t feel like binge eating, or starving myself, anymore.
“Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What The Work gives us is a way to change the projector–mind–rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.” ~ Byron Katie
Since the beginning of time, I was trying to change my weight and my body and my eating so I could be happy. This never worked, because it approached the problem backward. What The Work gave me is a way to change the projector–mind–rather than the projected–my body, the food.
I thought there was a flaw on the screen–my body itself–and I tried to change it constantly. I also tried to change this feeling and that feeling, trying to change myself and all “my” flaws when they appeared.
It was futile for me to try to change the projected image–the body, the food, the diet, the vision of perfection in the future, my feelings.
What worked instead was to clear the lens by questioning the beliefs and feeling the turnarounds with surrender, acceptance, trust.
I always say, if I can stop having an eating disorder and really notice the obsession to think about food is no longer present, then anyone can.