“Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating” – Part 3

love2eatinpa, 12 February 2010, 10 comments
Categories: Helpful Books
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Continuing from the past two posts, here is the last list of 10 “nuggets” I got out of this awesome book “Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating” by Geneen Roth.

Scales belong on fish
1. Scales have the power to turn a previously depressing day into one with sunshine, and a previously bright day into a miserable one. When we got on a scale, we say, “Tell me, machine, how I should feel about myself today.” A scale, however, is just a scale – a cold, lifeless piece of metal – until we give it it’s power. We make it into the instrument that tells us if we should like ourselves that day or not.

2. Awareness, in contrast to judgment, is the quality of attention that is spacious and light. Awareness is attention that observes what you are doing without pushing you in a particular direction. Awareness is a voice that notices. Just notices.
Awareness is the crux of breaking free from compulsive behavior because as soon as you are aware that you are being compulsive you are no longer being compulsive.Therein lies the value of compulsion: removal from discomfort. And therein lies its tragic flaw: you cannot remove yourself from discomfort without also removing yourself from a large portion of your life.
We don’t need tricks to help us lose weight. We don’t need diets or special foods. We need to decide whether we want to remove ourselves from our lives or whether we want to participate in them. Awareness is the process of joining yourself, of keeping yourself company while you live.
Awareness and compulsion cannot possibly exist together in the same moment. When you turn on a light, it is no longer dark. No matter how compulsive you are, no matter if you’ve been bingeing for thirty years or 30 minutes, as soon as you are aware that you are bingeing, it is no longer a binge.

3. …but if compulsion is marked by absence of self, awareness is marked by the steady, unobtrusive presence of self. And it is precisely this difference that changes the nature of compulsive behavior. When you are watching what you are doing, you simply will not behave in the same way as when you are not watching. Awareness works at the root level of compulsion by defusing the momentum of your actions.

4. Everyone eats compulsively. The difference between those who go to the workshops (Ms. Roths’) for it and those who don’t is that the latter eat and go on with their day; the former eat and let it ruin their day. The difference is not in the action, it’s in the attitude about the action.

On trust
5. If I don’t trust myself to stop eating a certain food, If I don’t trust myself to take what satisfies me without devouring the rest of it, then I won’t eat that food. But the hunger for it doesn’t go away; it stays and I make it worse by compounding it with fear. What could have been a simple straightforward act of satisfying my hunger turns into a serious of push-pull behaviors (I can’t/I want it/I can’t/I want it/I can’t/ I’ll have it anyway) that eventually results in a binge.

6. Eating what you want also takes courage. You have to believe your hunger will end; you have to believe that you are a good enough human being to have what you want. Eating what you want is a way of telling yourself that you believe in yourself, that you needn’t be afraid. Eating what pleases you is part of the complex need to trust yourself, to trust that what you want will satisfy – not destroy – you.

On courting and befriending and forgiving yourself
7. When I see only grace and beauty in other people, I think something is wrong with me. I think, living comes easy to them; they are naturally graceful, kind, generous, thin. Whenever I glowingly describe a person to a friend, she says “they sound wonderful.” Then she pauses and says “so what do they struggle with?” Her response immediately puts my canonization of them into perspective. It forces me to remember that everyone struggles with herself- that every has bad dreams, that everyone cries and fails miserably and is selfish, lazy and bitchy.
Write a letter to yourself. Begin it with “Dear ___________, I love you because….” And spare no modesty.

On powerful women
8. Being powerful is giving yourself permission to feel good. Being powerful is allowing yourself to be as creative, outrageous, honest, sensual, and demanding as you are. Being powerful is realizing that you don’t have to hide anything from anyone.

On pain
9. Most people never touch the bottom of their pain. They become compulsive instead, and in so doing, they exchange one pain, that of being alive, for another, the pain of compulsion.
Neither road is easy. Compulsion is painful and living without compulsion is painful. Compulsion has its joys; so does living without it. The biggest advantage I see in living without compulsion is that you stop being afraid of pain.
If you know that pain-any pain, no matter how huge, even the pain that comes from the death of someone you love-will not last forever or rip you apart, then you can allow yourself to experience it fully. When you allow the depth of pain to take its natural course, it comes to it’s natural end. When you push away an emotion, it remains in the wings of your heart, waiting to enter, threatening you, haunting you with shadows.

On compulsion
10. A compulsion is a valuable messenger, it tells a story, makes a statement, asks a question, and thereby presents an opportunity to reexamine what has been lost, pushed away, ignored. A compulsion questions the quality of your life; is is an indicator that are fighting for your life. I think that along with such obvious compulsions as alcoholism, drug addiction, cigarette-smoking, and overeating, compulsive behavior includes relationship-hopping, exercise addiction, continual shopping sprees, workaholism and spiritual rigidity.
Bingeing is a way of telling myself the something major is going on, that I should slow down and pat attention, and perhaps learn from this one.

Well, these last three posts were points that really spoke to me when I was reading the book. I hope even one of them spoke to you as it did for me.

One Day at a Time... Nurture myself... Awareness... Letting Go... Listen to my Body

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10 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Michelle@Eatingjourney
    13 February 2010, 1:43 am

    I love the ‘scales belong on fish’…it’s so true. The new site looks great 🙂


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thanks! i loved the scales being on a fish thing too. sadly, what she said about the scale was all so true for so many of us.


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    13 February 2010, 10:10 am

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  3. Anonymous Fat Girl
    13 February 2010, 11:21 am

    Love the scale analogy. It’s amazing how we can let a hunk of metal rule our life when it’s only a snapshot of that particular moment. We give it way too much power sometimes!


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thanks, i love how the author put that too.


  4. Trust In The Moment, and Trust In Yourself
    13 February 2010, 3:15 pm

    […] […]

  5. Jill
    28 February 2010, 10:33 pm

    I totally agree about the scale thing, we can become slaves it very easily and let it dictate to us what our moods should be.


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i know and it’s sad, isn’t it?


  6. Jill
    01 March 2010, 3:16 pm

    It definitely is sad. I mean its just a piece of metal, but we treat it like so much more than that.


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    only we can give it that power.


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