A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how food and weight are not the problem.
Food, weight and body obsession can become a problem, for sure, but if we mistake them for the root cause, we are barking up the wrong tree.
Food and weight craziness are an attempt at a solution to the problem of self-abandonment.
Our dilemma is that life, by its very nature, is ever changing and rife with uncertainty. To be human is to continually have the rug pulled out from under us. There are no guarantees and there is no getting it together.
Instead of looking squarely at the nature of things, we walk around believing that there is something fundamentally wrong with us.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t feel so unhappy, inadequate and disconnected. Otherwise, we would have gotten it together by now.
Obsessing about how to fix the problem of “me” offers temporary relief from the very human experience of wobbliness and insecurity. Of nothing to hold onto.
There is no getting it together. There is no figuring it out. Life is not a problem to be solved. You are not a problem to be solved.
No one knows what the hell is going on around here, not even the grown ups.
We don’t like this. It’s a challenge to the way we’ve been taught the world should work.
So, we persist in doggedly seeking external solutions to this internal dilemma. Add in a hefty dose of cultural (I promise you will get more affirmation for loosing twenty pounds than you will for completing your PhD dissertation) and media reinforcement (which deliberately conjures a sense of scarcity and lack so that we will be willing to purchase the promised antidote) and we have the perfect set up for an epidemic.
Which is exactly what we have created.
Food, weight, and body image issues are not about vanity, nor are they about willpower or self-control.
Your relationship to food and to your body is a reflection of your deepest beliefs about what it means to be alive, to take up space, to belong.
As long as you continue to mistake the symptoms for the actual problem, you will keep shrinking your world down to mirror your mistaken beliefs. You will live at the outside edge of your life, waiting for something you can’t name.
There is another way.
It requires a radical change in perspective. It requires a willingness to look at problems with food and your body (at any problem for that matter) as opportunities to recover your wholeness.
The gift and the burden of obsession are one and the same. Obsession and addiction won’t let you off the hook for anything less than the full-on capital “T” Truth.
You have to want to trust yourself, to trust the process, more than you want a specific outcome.
This is not to say that weight loss or normal eating can’t happen but that you have to die to the idea that it will give you what you are truly seeking. That ship has got to sail.
Here’s a practice to begin that process. Be careful if you decide to use it—it works.
You’re going to need some support. I can help with that and I can also recommend some other great folks in different healing domains. Reach out.
Here’s a suggestion in the meantime: don’t change a thing. Just make a daily commitment to awareness. Start to pay attention to your thoughts and behaviors around food and your body, as you go through your day. Get really curious and drop any judgment like a hot potato.
What’s going on when you suddenly need to eat and you’re not hungry? What are you actually looking for when you want another bowl of ice cream? When you wake up “fat” even though you were fine yesterday?
How often do you measure the success of your day by whether you got to the gym or not? What is your attitude toward your appetite? How do you feed yourself?
How do you talk to yourself about your body? What do you tell yourself when you overeat or when you make a “good” choice? What are your judgments about other people’s bodies and food choices?
When I began this work of questioning my beliefs and changing my behaviors around food and my body, I often got the sensation that I was literally stepping off the edge of a cliff.
I didn’t know it then but I was experiencing the groundlessness that naturally arises when you challenge beliefs that uphold the structure of your identity. This is where lots of people give up because it is so disorienting and frankly, terrifying.
Don’t do that!
Because this is also where it gets exciting. This is the part where you discover that you are braver than you knew.
The aliveness, vitality and freedom you seek is right on the other side of who you think you are.
Get curious. Stay compassionate. Let me know what you find.
****This is the second in a series of posts…I have lots to say on this subject. If you want to follow along, please sign up for my newsletter so we can stay connected.
If you have a particular question that you’d like to see addressed or if I can be of service on your path, I always love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.