Hear ye! Hear ye!
I come bearing wonderful news.
What we call “emotional eating” – it doesn’t exist. You actually just have terrible habits.
Who are YOU really?
A lump of clay? An eternal soul?
A child of God?
A descendant of Ancient Aliens????
I say you are a BRAIN. And maybe an alien also. I guess in some sense you’re a lump of clay too.
Whatever. But what you perceive, what you think, what you do – they are the all the same. They all originate in your brain, and they also shape your brain.
Your neuroses, your hangups. And yes – your eating disorder. These all happen to your brain. The people you love & hate. All of it, all of them – they only APPEAR to live in houses and apartments. Really, they live in neurons that fired together.
As Woody Allen once said, “the brain is my second favorite organ.” If I had a penis, I might agree. But since I have lesser genitals, my brain comes first.
Some small portion of my brain is conscious. That tiny portion wants to be dictator, and I don’t even know why.
But even though my conscious brain wants to be dictator, it can never be. It’s too small, and too powerless. The rest of my brain is less conscious, but quicker. It knows it can do better than “I” can do. It’s been around millions of years longer, long before I was a reptile-fish.
These “reptile-fish” parts, they are my instincts. On top of that, I have a bunch of “mammal parts” – my habits. They are stronger than my human parts. And the only way to control them is to help shape them.
The Power of Habit
What is your brain?
Is our “life” the current? Or the synapse? Or the things on both sides of the synapse?
I don’t know. It seems though, that whatever it is – it learns. In the evolutionary past, we couldn’t survive if we didn’t create shortcuts. We had to learn by making conscious associations, and then, by repetition, our brain made those associations unconscious.
Thus, we became habit machines!
We became so good at it, that we lived to tell the tale.
One of my favorite books is called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. You should give it a read. If you’re not familiar with this area, empower yourself.
Whatever you are – you are a bundle of habits. Your brain only leaves precious few things to its limited conscious control.
So when you are eating emotionally, are you really eating emotionally? Or are you eating out of habit? I say, the latter. And I’ll tell you why it matters.
..Why it Matters
Many emotional eaters feel they need to address their emotional issues in order to stop their emotional eating. But you’ll never address your emotional issues. You’ll always be fucked up. You have less than zero hope.
Does this sound cynical? Because it’s not. Be empowered. To me, this sounds like freedom.
I promise you this. You don’t need to address any issues in order to stop overeating. You need to address your habits.
You can be fucked up beyond belief, and still be a size 6. Or 8. Or 10. Here are just a few examples of people who are fucked up beyond belief:
- every single size 6 on earth
- every single size 8 on earth
- every single size 22 on earth
- every single nudist, nun, attorney and/or doctor on earth
If you’re fucked up, that only means you experience emotions. We all do that.
Of course there are extreme outliers. But 1/3 of the population having depression?? Give me a break.
Is a basic condition of being human really something you want to “fix”?
Maybe you do. But in any event, you don’t NEED to fix your emotional issues to fix your over-eating. Believe it or not, skinny people have emotions too.
Do Emotions Have Anything to Do With Your Eating?
Yes! They have everything to do with it.
Emotions trigger your habits, they help form your habits. The emotions you feel while doing an activity make certain habits “stickier” than others.
But you don’t eat because you’re emotional. You eat because of habit.
Habits are all about triggers. And even if you *THINK* an emotion is the culprit, usually that emotion is brought on by some kind of environmental trigger.
Mindfulness versus Fixing Everything
Maybe you should try to deal with your issues. I don’t know.
I tend to think that things sort themselves out when you focus on them less, not more. The less neurons fire, the more their connections atrophy and die off. That’s just my approach. So go ahead: ignore your problems. Repression is kind of a bullshit sham anyway.
Instead, be MINDFUL of your issues. Don’t try to fix them, just know what they are, know what your triggers are, and focus on a new behavior you can use to replace an old behavior:
Issue: I am fat and no one loves me because they are afraid I’ll eat them. When I sit on the couch and watch TV, I am reminded of my overwhelming size and sweatiness, and so I just eat more to cover my sad emotions.
- Classic solution that is pointless: I’m going to talk to a therapist about how fat and sad I am. She will probably refer me to a psychiatrist who will diagnose me with depression. Instead of recommending exercise or more time outside, they’ll recommend a drug. The drug might work, or on the other hand, it might make me suicidal. I’ll probably end up even fatter.
- Mindful Solution: I know that I FEEL fat and sad and that no one loves me. But I also know that plenty of fat people are loved, and that losing weight is possible, even if I haven’t done it yet. I know there is nothing INHERENTLY FAT about me. It’s only temporary. Every time I start to feel sad, I’ll go for a 20 minute walk, and see if I feel better. Even if I really really really don’t feel like walking.
What Happens When you Try The Mindful Solution?
You stop trying to fix things, which only reinforces their very existence.
Remember, the things you want to fix live in your brain! A brain that wires itself based solely on past experiences.
Instead, you focus on a concrete behavior that not only begins to REPLACE the prior bad habit, but is also a small step towards your goal. This kills two fatty birds with one habit-stone.
Because of the power of habit, if you repeat a behavior enough times, you’ll begin to WANT to do the new behavior.
Your new behavior won’t ever completely replace your bad habits. They’re already wired, and may always lie dormant.
But your new behavior will make it MUCH easier. And it will change your brain for the better.
..all it takes is a little bit of repetition.
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