Many people have asked me over time how I ended my compulsive and addictive behavior, especially with food and eating.
Compulsive behavior can be one of the most painful cycles of human experience.
It’s lonely, desperate, grasping, repeats itself, and has “victim” stamped all over it.
On the surface, compulsive behavior looks like a terrible path. Like what freakin’ ding-a-ling would choose THAT?
It’s easy to see in someone else how unhappy they are, how stuck.
Drinking, eating, working, being helpful, over-exercising, dieting, using drugs, smoking, worrying, self-improving, checking email, cleaning, playing video games, watching TV, planning, shopping, porn, talking, researching the internet.
I once heard a woman share that to get over drinking alcohol, she formulated a structure to drink water instead. Even though she went to AA, she drank water every time she thought she had a craving for alcohol.
True story, she was at her doctor’s for drinking too much water, for suppressing her immune system and whatever else happens to bodies with too much water in them.
The definition of compulsive is to experience an irresistible, persistent impulse to do something.
It feels like a force that takes over consciousness…which brings in the VICTIM part. I am a victim of the force of this irresistible urge.
One thing I’ve talked about a lot is that the compulsive behavior is the result, it has to be the result, of compulsive thinking.
Even though it feels like the idea, craving, urge or command to eat comes out of the wild, blue yonder and descends like a cloud upon you…that’s the Great Illusion.
There was something there, in the mind, in the psyche, in consciousness, that was seen and believed and thought…and then a huge desire to avoid it, run from it, change it, transform it.
Work! Go running! Drink coffee! Drink rum! Consume!
Suddenly, the original worrisome idea, thought, dream, or memory vanishes and the mind is busy with something else instead. So it kinda works, temporarily.
I know I never would have eaten like a stark-raving lunatic if I hadn’t been deeply frightened, angry, confused, lost, or grief-stricken and been totally and completely against having these feelings.
I wanted to feel good, or neutral, or psyched at ALL TIMES.
I got really scared with almost any kind of strong feeling. I still get nervous sometimes.
One of the most powerful turning points for me in changing my cravings and urges was connecting with a group of people.
These people all were interested in being honest, open, authentic and understanding the truth for themselves.
The thing about getting truly close and vulnerable with other people is that; a) it is risky—someone may not love hearing what you’re really thinking if you speak it—they may leave, or fight, or dismiss you, and, b) you may not like yourself for what you’re thinking, let alone what you’re saying, and this feels pretty bad.
But telling the truth, exploring the truth, is worth it.
In fact, I would say that it is not just worth it, it is a matter of life or death.
A real, genuine, honest, powerful life….instead of a false, fakey, dishonest, powerless life…that feels like half-life or death.
When I stuffed myself, or drank a lot of alcohol, or smoked, or planned, or moved my home compulsively (I counted how many places I lived from age 18 to 30 once and it was like 22) I was either really nice, really fogged out or really hyped up.
Never calmly present. And I definitely never felt truly ALIVE.
The following items are the TOP FOUR things that helped me end really destructive compulsive behavior, apparently for….a very, very long time (these are also on my website page all about the One Year Program).
The very same four steps are what change my compulsive thinking, even without behaviors that are damaging.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got compulsive cravings and urges, but they are much more subtle…and I welcome them coming along overall.
- Having a guide(s) or mentor(s) and fellow travelers along the road who could see sanity at the end of my tunnel…people who could feel confident of my path, trusting, even amused in response to the way I am thinking
- Revealing my innermost thoughts, feelings and experiences to companions in total honesty…NO HIDING or running away
- Being asked by a facilitator powerful, direct, lazer-sharp questions, and answering them honestly, so I could eventually ask them of myself
- Staying with compassion (picture an owner saying to the puppy “STAY!”). Staying with my feelings, sensations, or painful thoughts without condemning or dismissing them, so they can be truly seen.
People….a group. That was the first big healing step, the first thing that shifted a dramatic change in my behavior.
Being honest with other people, over time…allowing contact with them that was revealing, vulnerable, expressive….this made all the difference.
I stayed with my first group for three years, almost never missing our weekly sessions. My binge-eating stopped during that time. I never went back.
I’ll continue more with this theme during this week in other posts, the rest of the steps….
…but what I learned about connecting with people authentically in this path of self-inquiry is how to love.
By not running away from anyone, especially in my support group, and agreeing that I would be totally honest….then I learned true love.
“The Master has no mind of her own. She works with the mind of the people. She is good to people who are good. She is also good to people who aren’t good. This is true goodness. She trusts people who are trustworthy. She also trusts people who aren’t trustworthy. This is true trust.”~Tao Te Ching #49
If you’re ready to connect with a small group for either 2 months, or one year, or half a day (in person) then come on over to a group class. Check out the list below.
If not this, find a partner to do The Work with. Share yourself.
The more honest and compassionate, the less compulsive your thinking will be.