Attraction, overeating, shame, overcompensation…
There is a common cycle for any addiction. It amounts to two basic things: binge and purge. You start by indulging and letting yourself go beyond any normal level of restraint. Then, you swear never to do it again and go to the other extreme of avoiding the substance completely. That is, until your extreme restraint breaks down and you let yourself go fully for another binge.
This is the cycle of addiction. It doesn’t matter if it’s food, drugs, or any other substance or experience. It’s a mindset of “all or nothing” with hard corrective measures followed by uncontrollable indulgence.
If you were to take the same approach when driving, it would look like this. Anytime the car got near to the edge of the lane, you would overcorrect hard to bring it back. This is the white-knuckle driving you commonly see with someone who is just learning how to drive. There is tension and lots of overcorrection just trying to stay in the lane. It can cause an accident.
Compare that to a mature driver who is not so afraid of driving outside of the lane. If a mature driver notices the car drifting, he or she will not jerk the wheel back but will ease the car slowly back into the lane. A person sleeping in the back of the car would not even notice.
This is because the driver is aware of the drifting but is not reactive. He or she only makes enough correction to send the car back to the middle of the lane. In fact, the mature driver sees this as a normal part of driving. There is a natural weaving back and forth as the car moves along.
Instead of reacting and saying, “I don’t every want to overeat again!” a more mature approach would look like, “Oh, I just ate too much. Good to notice. Let me find my balance again.” There is no shame in it. There are no extreme measures taken, just a simple course correction.
But of course that is easy to think about in theory. How do you do it in reality?
What causes the reactivity and overcorrection is the mind’s attachment to a belief. It may be something like this, “It’s not okay to be overweight.” As long as the mind is believing this, it HAS to overcorrect. It reacts out of fear as soon as it sees what is happening.
But when this same thought is questioned and turned around (you have to go through the experience of doing this work), then the mind doesn’t see the natural fluctuations in weight to be a bad thing. There are no extreme measures that need to be taken. It’s okay to just be out of the lane for a bit, gradually moving back towards balance.
As long as you think being overweight is bad, you cannot be rational about moving back to balance. You have to be extreme. And that is what keeps the cycle of addiction going.
Join me for The Work 101 course, a course in stress management through the process of questioning what you often unconsciously believe. As you become more conscious, you become more mature. And in maturity comes balance.