Some time ago I came across a saying that stopped me in my tracks. It read – “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now”.
Admittedly, I’m a bit of a collector of inspirational material whether it’s quotes and posts I see on Facebook, blogs, in daily reader books, books in general or listening to some of my favourite speakers on YouTube. Eckert Tolle, Brené Brown, Thich Nhat Hanh to name a few. I come by this habit honestly as it’s something my mother has passed on to me.
The good addict that I am, I’m constantly on the lookout for that ‘thing’. You know that one message or nugget of wisdom that’s going to make a monumental difference in my life. It’s the answer, or big fix, and once I’ve heard it everything will instantly become clear. I will have some kind of life changing, spiritual type experience and instantly be at peace with food, and within myself once and for all. Can you relate?
Being abstinent, today, after having several months off sugar and flour behind me once again, I am finally able to apply “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now” in my daily life. The learning for me is that inspirational sayings like this are something I need to apply rather than something I need to get. They are not something I’m supposed to read and absorb, and then by some magic I’ll be transformed. There is work to be done. Yes, I hear you, isn’t there always work to be done?
When I’m actively in my addiction, “in the food” as we say, I am simply not capable of using helpful reminders like “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now”. There is no choice when I’m eating sugar and bingeing. I am on automatic pilot.
But once I put down sugar and flour I start to get some equilibrium back and there is some space between my thoughts and my actions; just enough space… like a seven second delay, for me to stop, think and then to decide. I can decide how badly do I really want this? Is the relief I am going to get from this food, whatever food happens to be promising me that delicious numbness at the time, going to be so powerful that I am willing to accept the predictable consequences: the shame, guilt, self-hatred and losing my abstinence?
I negotiate with myself. Will I be able to stop if I have a reasonable amount, something that a ‘normal’ person would have? Could I have this sort of controlled or contained break and get some badly needed relief that flour and sugar promise to deliver? Just this time if I give in then I’m sure I’ll be able to handle things so much better – the big lie. I’ll feel strong like I can take on whatever life’s challenges happen to be overwhelming me at the moment. Sugar and flour do for me what spinach did for Popeye; they are the fuels that give me secret power – aren’t they?
My experience is that the relief is there in that moment and in whatever food it is that I happen to be fixated on. It’s true and I won’t lie about it. Yes, food works!
However, where I end up once I get started eating is something I am not in control of. If you are, or think you are, a food addict like me than you’ll likely be able to relate. When I am active in my addiction all of the inspirational reading in the world isn’t going to make a difference. If I am abstinent, not eating refined sugar or flour, I can walk into a store or coffee house and when I see something decadent that makes my mouth start to water, and my brain starts showering me with dopamine, or at least that’s what it feels like, I get the grace of a seven second delay.
In that seven seconds I tell myself “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now”.
From the path…