Leo Babauta shares 14 lies that our minds tell us to keep us from shaking up the status quo. A few of them struck home for me simply because they shine an even brighter light on my relationship to food.
4. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Sure, I agree with this statement (as many of us would) but the problem is this is used to justify all kinds of crappy behavior. Might as well scarf down those Doritos and Twinkies, because hey, life is meant to be enjoyed, right? No. You can do without junk food and still enjoy life. You can exercise and enjoy it. You can give up pretty much anything and still enjoy life, if you learn to see almost any activity as enjoyable.
I know I’ve used that excuse in at least two forms, to indulge in unnecessary sweat treats, salty snacks or even healthy food binges. They are, ‘I’m going to die anyway’ and ‘I’ll enjoy it now and worry about it later.’
But really, where is the joy in eating the whole baker’s dozen box of donuts, in a an hour or a few hours, or even a day?
Oh wait, I know. The joy is in forgetting whatever it is that triggered me to eat the donuts in the first place. Although if it’s examined closely it’s not really joy, it’s protection – a diversion from the trigger and a release to equalize the emotional feelings and fear behind the trigger.
That’s when lies 5. I need comfort, 10. I’m tired, and/or 11. I deserve a reward/break show up. Another lie, one that an addict uses because the body wants a boost of whatever makes it feel good and free is a tweak on lie 8. Just this once. For an addict it’s more like, ‘just this one last time’.
It’s scary and unwise to simply drop a protective action which has worked so well that it’s become an automatic habit.
Yet Leo provides the step that immediately starts unraveling the pattern of believing the lies our minds tell us. He says,
“Notice the excuse.”
It works for him. It’s working for me. It will work for you too – if you use it.
What Is Noticing?
In this context it’s a verb – an action. We’re becoming aware of something through sight, feeling, sound, touch.
There is no danger in noticing. Nor is there judgement, no good or bad. It just is. It’s a fact and we don’t have to attach any meaning or emotions to the action.
What I noticed is this …
I thought about my non existent romantic relationship. I started feeling sad. The thought, ‘what’s wrong with me?’ ‘Am I unworthy?’ showed up. I can’t, shouldn’t and don’t want to feel unworthy. I want to feel happy. What makes me happy. I saw donuts. Donuts make me smile, make me happy. I bought donuts. I ate the baker’s dozen box of donuts in 3 hours.
Sure some other things are going on in this scenario, but these are the things I noticed.
What is the lie? 14. I’m afraid.
Now that I’ve noticed the lie, Leo says,
Try to have an answer for the excuse beforehand — anticipate it.
I don’t have an answer that works consistently (enough) for me yet. But I know some answers that don’t work.
Beating myself up. Wishing things were different. Feeling shame about my action. Pretending it isn’t an issue. Ignoring it. Using will power alone. Promising I won’t do it again. Believing that I’m weak, helpless or powerless to stop it. Believing I can’t change. Food avoidance.
But noticing? Noticing helped tremendously. I can see the lie. So first Just. Notice.
What do you notice when it comes to food and eating?
Note: I'm writing this as I live it, so I have no idea of the number of parts in this series.