November 14, 2020 at 11:29 pm #10074
I have been thinking over the Freedom of Choice assignment for this week and am getting a little stuck. The idea of freedom of choice makes total sense to me in theory, but I have a hard time applying it. Perhaps I’m just overthinking it, but I can’t seem to reconcile the need to give myself freedom of choice to “continue eating too much sugar and continue to gain weight,” with the fact that I really really don’t want to do that. And so I feel this immediate emotional resistance to the idea of giving myself that freedom. I find myself thinking that even if, technically speaking, I could keep eating too much sugar (which of course I do!), in reality that would be a terrible choice and I could never actually let myself freely choose it.
Should I be able to be totally emotionally neutral to the idea of “Sure, I can continue to eat too much sugar and keep gaining weight”? Should I be able to give myself permission to do that?
Am I just overthinking this? I think I’ve tied myself up in circles.
November 15, 2020 at 9:40 am #10075GillianParticipant
Thanks for this excellent question. I’ll be exploring this issue in more detail in the Webinar for Week 4 later today, so it will be good for you to see that.
Briefly, I do understand the fear and resistance you feel to giving yourself the freedom and permission to eat too much sugar. First, understand that there is a real downside to your prohibitive thinking: a craving that’s “an incessant drum beat in my head” and you “can’t focus on anything else”.
A good clue to the way forward for you is that “sometimes just making the decision to obtain the food I’m craving will give me relief”. So, in other words, it eases up as soon as you give yourself free choice (remove the prohibition). In the past, that removal of prohibition has always led to the overeating you want to stop doing – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Removing the prohibition leads to free choice; it doesn’t necessarily lead to overeating.
November 15, 2020 at 11:48 pm #10077
Wow. This is so helpful. I had not noticed that connection with my past comment about how just obtaining the food often brings me relief, but that makes so much sense. I am starting to see that what my mind is really wanting is permission, and that I can give it that permission without actually overeating.
I think I still need to work on disentangling that giving myself that permission does not mean I *want* to overeat poor quality food or that I am *encouraging* myself to overeat that food. But I know that taken too far, or depending on how I say that to myself, I could end up slipping back into prohibitive thought patterns. I wrote down what you said today in the webinar and will try to incorporate that – something along the lines of “I want to stop overeating. Very much. I want to lose weight. Absolutely. Totally. I want those things. But I haven’t got to do it.”
And thank you for exploring this further in the webinar today – you hit on so many points that really resonated. It is 100% true for me that I fear addictive desire and it helped me see that so much of my overeating is just to avoid that feeling, sometimes preemptively. For example, I frequently run to the bakery in the morning, *before* I even feel the urge, just to head off the feeling so that I can be assured that nothing will interrupt my ability to focus during the day.
November 16, 2020 at 5:43 am #10078Caroline EParticipant
I can relate to this also, we are going away this weekend and I caught myself getting very anxious about the food stops we may make on the way up in the car and how to handle it all. I reminded myself that I can eat anything and everything I can get my hands on..I can pack the car full of food and also eat anytime we stop on the way up, I have complete free choice. I felt so free and excited instantly. I realised that it’s the feeling of freedom that I’m after not necessarily the food, because I can only eat so much before it feels awful and not enjoyable anyway. But knowing that I can be completely free and choose to eat what and how much I like anytime is an amazing feeling. I just have to keep reminding myself though, I seem to forget quite easily! I’m enjoying the course thankyou.
November 18, 2020 at 9:29 pm #10103Bev GParticipant
Thanks Jessica and and Gillian and Caroline E . Reading your accounts of this difficult step – of really knowing and accepting that one is free to choose to overeat – is helping me see that it is something I am struggling with, too. I knew I was struggling but I wasn’t sure what with!
I tend to shuttle (like a pinball) between the 2 points of: ‘I have an addictive desire’ but: ‘I mustn’t overeat’. Intellectually, I know the safe place between those two points is: ‘I am completely free to eat addictively’ but then so often my knee-jerk reaction to that is ‘No that freedom is too scary’ (because I fear it will lead to addictive eating). Now I feel I’m going round in circles!
I would really welcome your comments on how I can get out of this stuck place,
November 19, 2020 at 5:05 am #10108
Hi Bev G – I’m glad to hear this post is useful. I too am still trying to really get my head all the way around this – but I loved what Gillian said in the webinar last week about how it is actually *fear* of the addictive desire that leads to overeating, not the AD itself. I know for myself that is very true. I have only ever known to avoid the feeling of AD by eating whatever it is I desire. Now I am trying to think of a different way of reacting to that feeling – to work through it instead of just have a knee-jerk fear of it.
I hope that once I truly believe that I don’t have to eat something just to prove I can (because I have learned to really embrace freedom of choice) – that the AD might fade and I might realize I don’t actually want it. Hopefully!
November 19, 2020 at 9:39 am #10110GillianParticipant
Bev, it looks like you’ve posted your own answer in another thread:
“…the only alternative to eating addictively is to experience, in that very moment, my addictive desire – and trust that it will play itself out, nothing terrible will happen…”
As Jessica says, the freedom to overeat is only scary when you fear and fight addictive desire. You say, “the safe place between those two points is: ‘I am completely free to eat addictively’. But the safest place is ‘I freely choose to accept and allow this feeling of unsatisfied desire’.
November 19, 2020 at 10:26 am #10112Bev GParticipant
Thanks Jessica and Gillian – I shall keep on practising!
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