I’ve recently found myself coaching a client who’s trying so very, very hard to release her focus on binging and purging only to fall back into the struggle…ahhh…the cycle of bulimia.
As I talk with her and text with her each day I feel what she’s going through. The daily battlefield of the mind. It seems to have so much power and control over us that we wonder where we ever went wrong.
Asking ourselves questions like…why would a person as smart, capable, conscious as me live this f*cked up life?
Why would I eat all this food?
Why would I hide out from friends and exhaust myself with purging…sometimes for hours?
Why would I labor on the treadmill or in the gym endlessly to shed those calories?
Why can’t I stop this incessant craziness?!
Why can’t I resist the urge to binge when I just want to live a normal life?
Guess what?! The last few seconds you spent asking yourself all those questions is EXACTLY what continues to perpetuate the insanity. No joke.
Your Momentum & Law of Attraction
Let me attempt to simplify how the law of attraction works in a single statement:
What you focus on you attract more of into your life.
There. Not hard, right? It’s really simple in theory.
Now…understanding how it works and actually applying it is a different story. Believe me, I’m still a student of momentum…just in other areas than food thank God. Well, I’ll be honest, food momentum can grab hold of me like when I get my focus on chocolate in the afternoon. Same principle in action.
You see momentum within our bodies is like the energy of pushing a small boulder down a big hill. It will quickly pick up speed if something doesn’t get in its way.
Your thoughts – your emotions – are a lot like that boulder running downhill. If you start to think a negative thought another negative thought will match up with it and then another and another. As a big fan of Abraham-Hicks I’ve heard Abraham say that you have a window of 17 seconds of focus on something before the momentum starts. You choose to focus on something for 17 seconds and then 34 seconds and beyond…the momentum gets stronger. The boulder speeds up, more speed, more thoughts, more energy, more stress, more anxiety…whatever.
Shift Your Focus to Slow Momentum
In working with this coaching client recently I realize I am acting as her sounding board and helping her push that boulder down the hill faster. When I listen to her stories in the heat of what’s bothering her I may actually be helping her perpetuate her negative momentum.
As her coach, I recognized what was happening and started to guide her with new questions to elicit new thoughts. I asked her to only tell me her new story, not the one that she no longer wanted to live. I encouraged her to not keep telling the broken record story she felt compelled to talk about because she felt better “getting it off her chest”.
My hope is you’re realizing that asking yourself those questions and retelling your worries when you’re in the midst of negative momentum is not helpful. It serves to increase more thoughts in that same downward spiral.
What Can I Do to Stop the Anxiety? The Stress? The Compulsion?
There is no one size fits all answer to the question of how do you stop the compulsion when emotions like anxiety, stress, frustration, self-hatred, anger and those type of feelings arise. In general, here are my tips for how to get off the roller coaster before it reaches the top and takes you down with it:
- Realize you’re creating momentum early – you are the thinker of your thoughts. Thoughts are what I like to call “bubbles of ideas”. You HAVE thoughts. You are NOT your thoughts. Just because something comes into your mind – or if you’re like me you hear it in your ear/head – doesn’t mean you have to believe it, act upon it, or respond to it. Just realize you’re the listener and thoughts are happening. Self-awareness is powerful!
- Take a breath – pausing when you begin to notice you’re all wound up is key. Creating a pause, a small space of time between one thought and another is an opportunity to regain your sense of self. Ground yourself. Do something radical with your body like jump up, swing your arms, take 10 deep, slow breaths, or simply walk around/get up/lie down – anything to change the configuration of your body.
- Shift your focus – what you’re focusing on is causing you to feel the way you’re feeling. One of the best ways to shift your emotions is the move your body (physical) and the next best thing is to shift your attention off of whatever it was you were thinking about. For example, if you are anxious about a relationship or something happening at work, take a time out and step back from the situation. Go to the bathroom, your car, step outside and just get some fresh air and allow yourself a moment or two to focus on the past or future. Maybe think about what you did that morning, what you need to do after work, what plans you have for the weekend, or maybe simply reflect on one thing you can appreciate in the moment. It may be a challenge to shift from anxious to appreciation that quickly, so find some tools that work for you.
- Practice self-soothing exercises – there are an abundance of self-soothing exercises you can have at the ready and I share all of my best in my ebook about how to stop a binge, but to name a few: tapping, go for a walk, say calming things to yourself like “this too shall pass”, call a friend, or do some light stretches/yoga to slow yourself down and get into your body. Whatever it takes to slow you down physically the better.
- Don’t let momentum start – often people reach out to me when they’re in panic mode. They’ve let themselves get past their comfortable place and they’re in crisis because food is all they can think about or they’ve already overeaten. That is really not the time to try to slow the momentum from rolling downhill. You need to get out in front of the boulder/energy/thoughts when it’s just a single thought or has very little momentum. That way you can shift your focus and sooth yourself sooo much easier than when momentum is bigger than your ability to control it.
I share all of these things to help you get new insights into slowing your momentum down before the urge takes you over. However, I want you to know that the best thing you can do is to focus on the good in your life, your day, so much that the momentum of what’s not working doesn’t have space or time to gain any momentum.
If I had a preferred method of helping you stop the urge to overeat, I would tell you to be more grateful, to be more helpful to others (volunteer/help someone), to remember what there is that is going right in your life and to acknowledge yourself throughout your day for small wins. I’ve found that it’s not about recovering from the anxiety that creates a win – it’s about putting new focus in your life so the anxious moments are few and far between.
If you could carry around with you a list of questions that you could look at whenever possible, they would include reminders like:
What’s great about this moment?
What’s great right now?
What’s going well for me?
Who do I love and why?
Who loves me?
What have I done in my life that I am proud of?
What am I doing that is furthering me along in my life in a positive way?
What did I do today that made me feel good?
What if everything were working out for me?
How would I feel?
How would I feel if I knew that I was loved unconditionally?
These are but a few ideas. Maybe you have some of your own to offer?
Gosh, I would love to hear your ideas, too! I’ve had so many nice comments from you guys lately [big smile]. Thanks for all of the amazing feedback and shares you’ve contributed to our community recently.
If you have comments on this post or ideas for what you can ask yourself to guide you to remember what is great in your life each and every day, what would your questions be?
Please share below in comments.
You freakin’ rock!!
I look forward to reading your comments – or email me a question if there’s something I can help you with.
With love and light, Polly