Episode 85: Compulsion Cathersis, Part I
Do you feel helpless in face of your food compulsions? Do the chips call your name and consume your attention? Learn the anatomy of a compulsion and how to transform it into a springboard to your own Naturally Slender evolution.
Renee Stephens: Welcome to Inside Out Weight Loss. I’m your host Renee Stephens, and together we’re accessing and adjusting the control panel of your mind/body/spirit system, bringing ease and joy to your weight loss journey and fullness to the rest of your life. Inside Out Weight Loss is about transforming our relationship with food and with our bodies, so that healthy eating and exercise become a steady comforting foundation that supports us through whatever life brings us. Inside Out Weight Loss is about naturally slender living. Here we learn how to release whatever’s been holding us back, whatever’s been keeping us stuck, to release our self-criticism, our judgment, our push/pull struggle with ourselves and with life. Here we step fully into our gifts, our joy, our community, living, enjoying, creating, sharing and thriving. I’m so glad you’ve joined us to transform from the inside out.
Renee Stephens: Lets take a moment to drop down inside where real change happens. They say the soul speaks in whispers, so we must be quiet to listen and gentle when we speak. Surface level change, behavior level change only occurs in a lasting way when there’s a deep foundation beneath it making it easy. If we try to change our behaviors without changing what drives our behaviors, then we’ll end up frustrated and discouraged, as yet again we fall back into the same old ways. You know what I mean. You have all the resolve in the world. You grab the latest diet book, which makes a whole heck of a lot of sense. You relate to the stores and to the author. You’re inspired by the pictures. You think, “Yes, this is it. This is the thing that makes sense to me. I’m going to change, I’m going to do this, and everything will then be different.” And so you set up your new rules and you say, “That’s it, no more carbohydrates” or “No more acid” or “No more alcoline” or “No more”, goodness knows what, “white flower or white sugar”, all of which is, may very well be healthy habits. But if we try to slap them on our lives it ends up being like putting a band aid on a broken leg; it’ll never last. To make healthy behavior changes, to keep and actually enjoy behaviors that support you, that are that solid foundation, that comforting steady routine that carries you through the ups and downs of life, we have to transform at a deeper level, deep inside. We have to transform at the levels of thoughts, that secret stuff that goes on in our heads when no one else can hear, at the level of beliefs and identity, soul and spirit. In short, we have to transform from the inside out. So as you take this moment to quiet down and listen to the whispers of the soul so that you can speak gently in an open dialogue of evolution and transformation, know that dropping down inside is a skill that like any other requires practice. The more that you practice, the quicker and easier you can drop into the beautiful quiet state. In fact just listening to this podcast on a regular basis, you may have found that you can drop inside so much more quickly and easily than you could in the beginning. And this inner state, this state deep inside is so very powerful.
Renee Stephens: I remember a while ago I was sitting in a coffee bar – as you may know, I love to sit in coffee bars – indulging in a moment of quiet over a cappuchino. And this particular day it was Spring and there was some wind. And as I’m sitting there looking outside through the window I noticed that my eyes are beginning to water and my nose is beginning to get a little snuffly. I thought, “How odd. What the heck is this? Hmm.” And after a while it occurred to me that, oh, this seemed like a new allergy forming. Now I’m not one to have many allergies and I know about allergies, that allergies in fact are a mistake of the immune system. Basically what happens is the immune system perceives as extremely dangerous substances that in fact are fairly benign. So for most foreign substances that we encounter in our environment, the immune system has a passive response that can eliminate these substances from our system through the normal eliminatory mechanisms, which I will not describe in detail, thank you very much. It’s passive, no big deal, nothing happens that we can notice. The body just takes care of it and eliminates the toxins, like normal pollution on the street, dust, etcetera. With an allergy on the other hand, what happens is the immune system somehow goes on red alert over something that could in fact – and for many people – is eliminated in this very passive unobtrusive way. So the immune system goes on red alert and it says, “Expel, expel, expel”, the eyes water, the nose runs to get rid of this toxin ASAP because it thinks we are in imminent danger. And this mistaken response typically occurs because there are some emotion event, something highly emotionally charged going on at the time that one of these contaminants or pollutants is present, and so the emotional body is on high alert and there’s a substance and it accidentally associates the two. So for example it’s a spring day, there’s a lot of pollen in the air and on this particular spring day something big and emotional happens in your life, something upsets you a great deal, an argument, a loss, an accident, who knows what, and the next thing you know the body says, “Expel, expel, expel”, and it’s expelling the pollen instead of the sadness of the emotion. It’s really sweet when you think about it, the body just doing its darndest to get rid of something it doesn’t like. Anyway, I was there in the coffee bar taking in the spring air with the breeze and noticing that I was beginning to have one of these allergic reactions. Now I don’t know what emotional thing was going on that caused this misassociation or gone on the last time that I had the pollen in my environment, but I did know that it was a mistake. So because I’ve practiced a lot at dropping inside and going into this deep and quiet state, right there in the coffee bar, cappuchino in front of me, I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths to begin to settle down inside. And as I settled down I thought of my eyes feeling clear and open. I thought of my nose as being clear and breathing easily and well. And I allowed my parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that calms us down, to begin to calm us down. I then imagined myself breathing well and clearly, not just today but any windy day in my neighborhood with the air quality as it was in that particular moment. I thanked my body for its reaction, and I simply thought about a better reaction. In essence it was like a redo that I did from this deep and quiet state. Opened my eyes, clear, nose cleared up and that was the end of that. Now I have no test to prove what happened there, but I do have my experience that now I can certainly breathe clearly and openly in my neighborhood and with this sort of pollen in the air on a spring day.
Renee Stephens: So I tell that story simply as an example of what’s possible when you develop this skill, when you practice dropping deep inside to make these changes by thanking your body for doing the best that it can, and then having that gentle quiet dialogue to redirect it. It’s also a very powerful place, as you may have noticed from that little story, to do a predo or a redo. In other words, to go back in time and imagine yourself behaving in a way and feeling in a way that would’ve worked much better than what you did. So if you overate at an event recently or a meal at home or out and you want to do a redo on that, it really helps to drop inside to this quite, loving and appreciative state and redo the movie, redo the experience from that place. And of course this is also a beautiful place from which to set your intention, not only for this episode, but perhaps for your continued journey. What would you like to happen next? Remembering to set your intent stated in the positive. In other words, “I want this”, rather than, “I don’t want that.” Yeah, you know all about that by now, I’m sure. Or if not, practice is always a great things. Today I want to go in and talk about the detailed anatomy of a compulsion, because we’re about to go on a journey of cathartic compulsions. What does that mean? It means actually using a compulsion, which we think is a horrible thing, as a springboard for our own expansion and evolution. Say what? Yes, I’m talking about a compulsion as a gift, as a springboard, as a mechanism for our own dramatic cathartic evolution. I’m really excited about this because it’s something that I’ve been working on just recently in my private practice, an opening that just occurred for me. So lets get going right after the break. You’re listening to Inside Out Weight Loss on Personal Life Media. This is your host Renee Stephens and we’ll be right back.
Renee Stephens: We’re back now. And before the break we were talking about the anatomy of a compulsion because we are about to go on a journey of cathartic compulsions, because lets face it, they’re so bad, they are so miserable, so unpleasant and so, well gosh, compelling in the wrong direction, what if we just pop them out the other side so all that intensity became positive for us. What if all that intensity could just be popped right out the other side to be a springboard, to be a launch pad for our own expansion. Ooh, that sounds so good to me. I mean heck, we got intensity, lets use it. Do you guys remember towards and away from motivation from one of the early episodes? If you haven’t listened to those episodes yet, the quickie review is that towards motivation is a motivator that pulls us towards it, that attracts us to it, something that is really positive, we see ourselves as slim and happy and sparkling and beautiful and glowing and we are drawn to become that person that we imagine. That’s towards. Away from motivation is of course the opposite, something that is so horrendous to us, so scary that we have to run the heck away, and often times that is in fact our jeans not buttoning. It’s true; that can be our own personal red alert, and don’t we all know that already. So that’s an away from. And as we discussed earlier, the most powerful long lasting motivation is a combination of towards and away from, away from and towards. So lets look deeply inside a compulsion. And I’ll describe a conversation I had with a client recently to give an example. Now this client had a compulsion for, I think it was the 4pm snack; going for the chocolate, going for the sweets at 4pm, it was really powerful, or maybe it was the pint of ice cream, something that happened for her typically around 4pm in the afternoon. So we went back to that moment and she felt the compulsion pulling her towards it, the idealized image of the, lets say it was ice cream. And as we were going through it I noticed that the way that she was representing the ice cream, the way that we represent our compulsion, the object of our compulsion – and this has absolutely been true for me and ever person I know, this is the way, as far as I can tell that everybody represents something that we are compelled towards – is that we deify it. In other words, we make is seem super normal. We make is seem like it is the answer to all of our problems. It is bright and it is close, colorful, beautiful, alluring, sparkling. We see it high above. We see it on a cloud or elevated above eye level at some point. It’s as if we deify the ice cream or deify, make God like the chocolate, the sweety, the salty, whatever it is, and if you were to check inside right now for the way when you think about the object of a compulsion for you, you might notice that it takes on this almost supernatural God like quality. I hope I’m not offending anyone, but this is certainly what I have noticed and what makes it so strong.
Renee Stephens: Now lets go back. Now we think about… Lets take this one client. It’s 4pm and I said, “Well lets walk back right before you noticed the 4pm compulsion. What’s going on for you then?” And this is the piece that most of us completely forget. I think it’s like women, we forget what childbirth is like so that we can continue the species and get pregnant again, because it is so miserable we have to block out the pain or we’d never do it again. But fortunately we do, and so indeed, we do it again. The species continues. It’s really very handy to be able to block out pain. But we go back to that moment right before the compulsion and you might go right back before one of your own compulsions in this moment and think, “Well what’s going on”, and again and again and again, what I find right before that compulsion is a moment of pain, a moment of discomfort, a moment of unhappiness, we’ll just call it pain for now, just the general term pain, that moment of pain that can be excruciating. It could be a moment of loneliness, a moment of boredom, a moment of awkwardness. Another client, we were going into her compulsion and she said, “Well as I think about it, I’m sitting at work and if I’m feeling incompetent because there’s something I’ve been asked to do at work or that I want to do at work and I have a moment of feeling incompetent, that’s really painful”, and as she thought about it, that would precede her thought of getting up and going to the chocolate shop right outside of her office. So this is beginning to look really interesting. We have that moment of pain. In other words, we have a dip, we go down, we start to feel bad. And then to counter that, add a little springboard, we deify the object of our desire, we make it seem, we make that lump of brown stuff, which is chocolate, and notice that chocolate is brown and it is a bit of a leap considering other things that are very unpleasant to talk about that are brown, but somehow we make it seem fabulous. Our brains are so amazing. So it’s a lump of brown and we make it seem the most alluring thing on the planet. Why do we do this? Because we are trying to counter the pain that immediately preceded us. The pain is so bad, it might be very quick but it is acute in that moment. It is so bad that we need something to get out of it quick, pronto, right now. It’s like, “No, I don’t want to wait until I’m thin two months from now or a year from now or a week from now”, or whatever the heck it is, “I’m not waiting. I need to feel good now because I am hurting right now”, and we do not like to hurt. So we’ve got this contrast going on. The lower the pain, the higher the object of our compulsion. The worse the pain, the more compelled that we are. You with me, ‘cause I really want you to check in with your own experience to find out what is true for you. Don’t believe me. Find out what is true in your own experience. The key is slowing down enough and going to that moment right before the compulsion kicks in to find out where you are. So now we know if this is in fact true for you, that what we have is like a big, a wave that dips down, it’s like the pullback before the Tsunami, the pulling back of the loaded slingshot. And you wonder why it’s so hard to stop a compulsion in its tracks? We got some serious firepower going here. That’s why I tell my clients, once you’re in there, that’s not what I call a teachable moment. Forget it. Focus on self-correcting. Don’t worry about it in the moment. Let it happens, self-correct. If that’s the last time it happens then really you will be in great shape, literally and metaphorically. Ha-ha.
Renee Stephens: So where are we going with this? You know, because I already told you. We’re going to that place where the slingshot catapults us to something that is way better, because you see what’s happened is that we have attached positive feelings, we have attached salvation from our pain to food or alcohol or whatever it is the object of our addiction is, or compulsion. They just somehow got put together, they got slapped together. Who knows, maybe it was marketing because that’s the message that we get when we watch TV commercials or see those print ads where the food is so close up and sparkling and beautiful and we think, “Oh, that’s going to make us feel good.” That’s of course what works in marketing, so that’s what gets done. Maybe it’s from that. More commonly it’s because we model people important to us like our parents for example or friends. I know my first binge, I remember it so vividly, it was with my next door neighbor when I lived in Virginia, Northern Virginia growing up. And we had this big old can of Gorp. Gorp – I don’t know if you remember that – Gorp was I guess what you would call Trail Mix, it was like nuts and raisins and bits of stuff, very calorie dense. And we just had this crazy idea to stuff ourselves full of it, so we ate a huge amount of calories. I remember that so well. And it was nice because we were, we were together in it, we didn’t feel alone, and so we bonded, we learned from each other and we did this. Actually there were binges predating that, now that I think about it, chocolate chip cookies and light. The point is that we learn from somewhere or somebody. It really doesn’t matter who we learn from. What matters is that we notice what’s going on, and we utilize that understanding to transform the compulsion to something positive, which we will do in this series on compulsion catharsis, metamorphosis like the butterfly emerging from the cocoon. I wonder what color your wings will be.
Renee Stephens: What is your homework? I bet you can guess. Make a list of your compulsions. They can be specific food compulsions, category of food compulsions or time of day food compulsions, like my client who was a 4pm binger or overeater. And then walk back in time minute by minute to right before that compulsion hits and notice how you’re feeling. What the heck is going on? What is that moment? Is there a moment of pain? A moment of acute discomfort? Identify that in a list and we will use that in the next episodes to transform and launch you to your best self.
Renee Stephens: That brings us to the end of our show today. Thank you for being present. This is your host Renee Stephens, and I am on a mission to eradicate the weight struggle from the planet, enabling you to develop and share your abundant souls gifts. Join me as we evolve the world by evolving ourselves. Take good care.