Why Letting Go of Desire will Usually Help You Get What you Want

Why Letting Go of Desire will Usually Help You Get What you Want

Despite what I want to tell you, I don’t have my binge eating under control.

Quite often it flares up, and I’m left wondering why. Why now?

Why now, at the beginning of 2017, when everything is supposed to be regimented and better?

Why now, when all I see on social media is how good everyone is doing with their New Year’s Resolutions, am I’m sitting here stockpiling my mouth with leftover Christmas candy, telling myself it will be different tomorrow?

Why now, when I’m supposed to be getting better, when I’m so FUCKING SERIOUS about getting better?

It’s like the more I want something, the deeper I obsess over it. When it feels threatened, the monster inside of me rebels. It wants to remind me it’s still here and doing well. It wants to show me who’s boss.

I’ve noticed a pattern.

Continue reading “Why Letting Go of Desire will Usually Help You Get What you Want”

3 thoughts that have kept me from writing

untitled_artwork

oh, hey there. this is awkward.

 

It’s been awhile.

6 months, give or take.

I’ve been planning on updating this blog since last June.

I never got around to it, probably because I was paralyzed by these 3 thoughts:

  1. I thought I couldn’t be sick or struggling and continue to give people advice.
  2. I believe everything I typed up had to be flawless, accompanied with hilarious illustrations to rival those of Gemma Correll or Hyperbole and a Half. 
  3. I obsessed about writing, feeling like I absolutely HAD to do or my career would be over and/or I would never be able to write coherent sentence ever again. This makes the process incredibly unenjoyable, and I did whatever I could to try and avoid it.

Well, dear readers (if you’re still out there that is), here’s the honest truth:

I’m still sick. I still struggle, sometimes on a daily basis. I STILL believe the crippling thoughts above, making the idea of continued writing terrifying.

Since I’ve left you, I’ve had to increase my dosage of Prozac. My anxiety has gotten so bad it’s begun to wreak havoc on my digestive system (Hooray ACID REFLUX! Hooray HEART BURN!). I’ve gained weight from binge eating. I’ve lost weight from restricting. I’ve spent days depressed in my bed, legitimately frightened that I would develop bed sores.

But I’m still here. And even though I’m frustrated and uncomfortable, even though I’d rather be checking my Facebook a million times or  fighting with my boyfriend, I’m writing this.

I’m writing not because I’m well or happy, but because some of you have found inspiration or advice in my struggles.

So I’ll keep posting the ideas that help me, or even the one’s that don’t.

Is this Thinking Trap Making You Miserable?

Is this Thinking Trap Making You Miserable?

Do you ever take time to congratulate yourself for the small stuff? Do you appreciate the “minor” achievements in your life?

Or do you write yourself off?

Despite losing my job this week, I’ve been making some progress towards some personal goals.

I’ve been writing daily, and drawing daily.

I’ve mapped out a bunch of places I can apply to instead of wallowing in self-pity.

I forgave myself for stress-eating.

These are all victories.

These are ALL things I wasn’t capable of doing this time last year.

Yet, I find myself brushing them off.

Oh, so what I mapped out a plan for employment. That’s what adults do.

Yeah, I filled a notebook with sketches. But I still don’t know graphic design, so does it even matter?

How You Think Can Harm You

In psychology, this type of defeatist thinking is known as “discounting the positive”.

People who fall victim to this cognitive trap often find themselves discrediting everything and anything, no matter how small or great the achievement.

Nothing is ever good enough.

Living in your mind starts to resemble time-spent time with an apathetic, snarky teenager.

thinking traps positivity

thinking trap self-esteem

thinking trap self-esteem

If things come easy, they don’t matter.

If things don’t come easy, they still don’t matter, because they should come easy.

The problem with thinking like this is that it will constantly make you feel inadequate and unrewarded.

It will turn you into a perfectionist or you will start to avoid life. Either you will forever chase an unattainable goal, or you will lose hope and resort to idleness.

nothing but a downward spiral awaits you if you do not break this cycle of thinking.

Start to feel happier by breaking your habit of “discounting the positive” :

  1. Start to become aware of when you discount your achievements. It’s hard to break a habit if you do not know when it occurs.
  2. Allow yourself to feel joy over the simplest victories and pleasures. Keep a gratitude list with you, and review it often. Start today. Make a list of 10 things you did today that were awesome. If you’re struggling to think of 10, I challenge you to come up with 20. The more you can find to celebrate, the better.
  3. If feeling good just because is too difficult for you, give yourself some justification as to why you SHOULD feel good instead of why you shouldn’t.

For instance, if you normally say something like this to yourself:

“I finished my assignment today, but it doesn’t matter because Mary finished her’s two weeks ago.”

Try something like the following that does not involve other people:

“I finished my assignment today, and that’s awesome because this morning I didn’t feel like doing it at all.”

Or maybe you sound more like this:

“I didn’t binge today, but who cares. I wasn’t stressed out so it’s no big deal.”

 “I stuck to my meal plan today, but normal people do that.”

So try:

“I didn’t binge today. That’s a huge improvement. I used to binge

“I could have done nothing today, but I decided to stick with my meal plan. Yay me!”

Which of these life-responses do you use to avoid your true emotions?

Welcome back to”The Things I Learned in Acting School, and How They Can Improve Your Life” Fridays!

A lot of what you learn in acting school has to with point of you. How you FEEL about things.

We were forcefully encouraged to take everything personally. We were expected to express authenticity. My teacher would frequently keep on students who dodged their real emotions, and who resorted to what she called “life instinctive responses.”

Life instinctive Responses are the myriad of ways we deflect our true feelings about a situation. Many are deeply entrenched in our primitive brain. After all, submissive behavior allowshumans, among other animals, to thrive in groups.

We can however, begin to rely on these behaviors far too often. This can often spark avoidance and dissatisfaction. It’s important to recognize how often you utilize these behaviors, and if they’re masking uncomfortable emotions in your life.

Behaviors We Use to Avoid Our True Emotions

  1. Sarcasm – – We often rely on sarcasm when we don’t want to outright tell someone how we are feeling. For instance, if someone asks you if it’s your birthday, and you respond, “Gee, no. I’m just holding balloons and eating cake for absolutely no reason,” you may be masking your true experience of the situation. Maybe what we actually feel is something along these lines:

“I’m hurt that you didn’t know. I feel unimportant to you.”

“I’m too excited to explain this to you right now. “

“You’re bothering me, I’m trying to enjoy myself.”

  1. Apologizing – Instead of telling someone how they’re making us feel, we apologize for upsetting them, or bothering them, or eating their time.

I think people with eating disorders remain especially reliant on this life-instinctive response. We apologize for taking up space, for the energy it takes to sustain us, for our bodies.

Someone can say to us “OH MY GOD, shut UP already! You’re so annoying!” and we’ll apologize immediately to avoid confrontation. We’re compelled to stifle the fire before it even starts.

It reminds me of a joke I heard at an open-mic one time. The guy on stage said he felt so uncomfortable with himself that one time, when a homeless man spit on him, HE APOLOGIZED FOR BEING IN THE HOMELESS MAN’S WAY.

I thought it was ridiculous at the time, until I realized I would have done the exact same thing.

It’s easier to carry the guilt than it is to tell someone they’ve hurt you, or that they’ve humiliated you. Or made you feel worthless.

Or maybe it’s just easier to swallow the blame than it is to tell someone that they’re being rude, insensitive or cruel.

But why? What would it mean to stick up for yourself, and why are you afraid to do it?

Next week, I will be posting two more avoidance behaviors that we all fall victim to from time to time.

For now, if you’re interested in reading part one of “The Things I Learned in Acting School, and How They Can Improve Your Life” Fridays, click here.

A Little Thinking Trap that Keeps You Stuck

It’ll come of no surprise to you that I’m horribly inconsistent at writing.

In fact, I’m using everything in my arsenal right now just to sit here and commit to a word count.

When I woke up this morning, the thought “YOU COULD WRITE RIGHT NOW” flashed across my mind.

As quickly as it came, I pretended I didn’t see it. Tossed it aside like a senseless idea.

Then a deluge of pointless obligations took over. Somehow they were all much more vivid and tantalizing than writing at my computer. Somehow searching for Swedish massage deals on Groupon seemed more worthy of my time than something I actually find to be fulfilling, albeit challenging.

It hit me that whenever I hear “YEAH, BUT…” in my mind, it’s a TELLTALE sign I’m avoiding an impulse that wants to serve me in some important way. For example, my morning looked like this:

Impulse:

productivity self-improvement

Yeah, but I have to e-mail my advisor.

And then I should look up massage deals. And then…

productivity procrastination overwhelm

This scenario plays out in other familiar areas of my life.

Impulse: “I could eat breakfast.”
Yeah, but I’m not hungry.
Yeah, but I binged last night.
Yeah, but I didn’t work out yesterday, so I don’t need the calories.

Today, I challenged you to find your YEAH BUT moments, and do exactly what precedes them. Your mind will find a myriad of ways to convince you otherwise.

You don’t have to ignore these persuasions.

Sit gently with yourself, acknowledge these “ yeah, buts,” breathe.

And then try:
“Ok. But first…”

What Everyone Ought to Know About Making Mistakes

This is my first post in a series of articles I’m entitling “Acting School Fridays.” Every Friday I will cover a different idea I learned in acting school and how you can apply it to your own life.

This week is all about making mistakes and fucking up.

Let’s get started!

The Fear of Fucking Up

In June, I bite the bullet and chased after something I have wanted to do for a long time now. I enrolled in an intensive acting course.

The studio I attended specialized in the Meisner technique of acting.

One of the fundamental exercises in Meisner technique is called repetition.

Basically, you and a partner repeat something back and fourth to each other  until something changes. The exercise is meant to teach you how to respond to behavior: what is being said or conveyed is not nearly as important as HOW it is being conveyed.

Let’s say Alex and Annie are acting partners. Alex starts the repetition by making an observation or judgment of some sort. It encounter would go as follows:

Alex: Your shirt is cheery.

Annie: My shirt is cheery?

Alex: Your shirt is cheery (Sounds more insistent.)

Annie: Ok, my shirt is cheery.

Alex: Ok, your shirt is cheery,

Annie: OK, MY SHIRT IS CHEERY.

Alex: Yeah OK, your shirt is cheery.

Annie: This is annoying now.

Alex: This is annoying now?

Annie: Yeah, that’s what I said, this is annoying now.

Alex: Yeah, that’s what you said, this is annoying now.

Annie: Yeah, it’s annoying now.

Alex: Yeah, it’s annoying now.

(You may be questioning the usefulness this exercise, but this article isn’t intended to defend the Meisner technique. It's merely an example.)

Repeating the same thing over and over can start to mess with your brain. Words slide into each other, pronouns and prepositions collide, phrases you’ve known for years begin to sound like foreign tongue.

Eventually, you will hiccup. You will stumble over an R or L. Your heart will flutter and your mind will yell “NOW EVERYONE IS WATCHING ME, AND EVERYONE THINKS I’M STUPID.”

This happened to me on the absolute first day of class. I told my partner she had a snazzy belt, and while we were throwing this word back and forth in a heated match of verbal hot potato, I accidentally said “snaggy.”

I thought my life was over. I had spilled my stupidity all over the floor for all to see.

But I had to keep going. My partner was still hurling words at me, and I had to listen and respond. I couldn’t continue to obsess over having said snaggy, or else…

You bet. I said it again. Horror, take two. Maybe I even said it three or four times times. I have no idea. I just remember not being able to let my slip-up go, and sliding further down a slippery slope of errors.

Obsessing Over Mistakes Makes You More Likely To Make More Mistakes

I didn’t understand at the time that focusing on what I did wrong was pretty much ensuring that I continued to make errors (similar to the problem of focusing on NOT binge eating).

I knew I had to keep going, because my partner was saying things.I was only half hearing her. I kept obsessing over “SNAGGY,” And because my attention was on MYSELF, I faltered. Again and again.

Each slip-up fueled my sense of shame, and I became more and more determined to correct my blunder. The only solution I could come up with was to fixate even further on what I was doing wrong.

I’m a slow-learner, but I eventually figured out the importance of LETTING SHIT GO. I couldn’t continue to dwell on my mistakes. It was stunting me.

During the first few weeks of class, I remarked this phenomenon with a few of my classmates. Some stumbles were graceful, vanishing as quickly as they came, and yet others sparked resistance and awkwardness that seemed to linger throughout the entire exercise.

I couldn’t deny it: self-consciousness was at the root of the difference. It literally inhibited growth.

In order to progress with my partner, for our contact to unfold and bloom and change, I needed to just embrace the fact that I fucked up, and move on. That’s it.

It took a few weeks to get the hang of, but eventually I learned a key idea that really helped me to forgive myself:

You’re The Only Person Who Cares About Your Mistakes

Honestly, I promise.

The only reason we harp on ourselves for making mistakes is because we believe other people are watching us, and judging us, and laughing at us.

We do not want other people to think badly of us. We want to feel smart. We want to be well received.

But people are inherently selfish, and they do not care about your mistakes unless they directly influence their lives.

While my partner may have cared about my mistake (briefly), I can assure you no one else in the world did.

Everyone else in my class was busy thinking about their turn, or the time they messed up, or texting their girlfriend, or having to pee but not wanting to interrupt class.

Think about it. How often do you remember someone else’s mistakes? Sure, we may all feel a fleeting pang of embarrassment for the person who trips or pronounces something wrong, but do we carry this with us?

No.

So then why do we believe that people notice our faults so much? Are we fundamentally more interesting than everyone else? Are OUR mistakes so much more note-worthy than the rest of the world?

Don’t give other people so much credit. They honestly don’t notice you.

This could make you sad, or it could set you free.

Either way, you’re going to make mistakes.

Why You Should Keep Reading my Blog

Hi there friends.

I know I’ve been absent for quite some time.

I’m terrible at consistency, and sticking to schedules. Lack of “official” accountability remains deadly to my productivity.

I’ve learned this about myself, among other things, throughout the summer.

This summer has been, and continues to be, a mad vortex of personal change. I did a lot of things that were floating around my bucket list, things I never thought possible of myself because of anxiety, or depression, or eating issues, but I got through them nonetheless.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  1. Took an intensive summer acting program at an official studio, basically forcing myself to be social, brave and vulnerable. It was horrifyingly wonderful.
  2. Traveled on a shoestring to Montreal with my boyfriend. Stayed in an Airbnb, ate everything in sight (in a good way), rode a bicycle through the streets, Rekindled my love for travel.
  3. Began to tackle my fear of driving, starting to drive by myself on main roads and highways.

These experiences have given me a lot to work with…I’m hoping to update more frequently.

For instance, every Friday, I’m going to make a post featuring the things I learned in acting school and how they apply to everyday life.

Find the first one later today.

And thanks for sticking with me.

This Post is Going to Suck

First and foremost, thanks to all my followers for sticking with me thus far. I know I post sporadically, and I’m trying to get myself into a routine.

I’m not sure if that’s going to happen, however, as I’ve been struggling with making regular updates for some time now.

I find myself with a lot of excuses as to why I cannot or should not post a blog:

My ideas are stupid.

I don’t have a drawing that matches this entry.

My ideas are irrelevant; they’re only helpful to me.

I have no time.

I don’t have anything to say. I’ve run out of ideas.

This is only half an idea.

No one will read it.

 What’s the point?

Even as I write this, I feel as if I’m cheating you, squandering your time.

But as selfish as this may sound, I’m making this post for me, and not so much for you.

To show myself that it’s okay to not have an idea, or a great idea, and that the world isn’t going to implode if I commit to a less-than-perfect post.

I’m trying to push past all the negativity in my head.

THIS ISN’T LONG ENOUGH, it’s taunting. THIS DOESN’T’ COUNT AS BEING CREATIVE.

I’m trying not to care. I’m trying not to slow down and critique what I’m saying, I’m trying not to go back and look for spots to edit or rewrite.

I’m trying to look at this post as is and just accept it.

I’ve done some research into why I can’t seem to get myself to do the things that are important to me (writing/being creative daily, being at the forefront).

Most sources would say that my problem is crippling perfectionism, but I’m not sure if that’s accurate.

In any case, I’m striving to allow more imperfection in my life.

GHFHF

In what ways can you invite imperfection into your life today?

To Those of You Who Want to Stop Binge Eating, but Can’t Get Started

To Those of You Who Want to Stop Binge Eating, but Can’t Get Started

When will it click for me?

I saw this question asked on Reddit awhile back, and I felt compelled to post about it.

You may be asking yourself:

How many times do I have to stuff my body full of sugar until I FINALLY want to stop?

How many times do I have to obsess over the day’s meal until I’m fed up?

How much longer do I have to wait to start living my life?

Why has it clicked for other people, but not for me?

Maybe you’ve heard people say that unless you want something bad enough, unless you’re TRULY fed up, you won’t make a change.

Maybe you feel like rock-bottom hasn’t come for you yet, so you must settle for the way things are until the day comes.

stop binge eating

Are you accepting the status quo, hoping that one day you’ll stumble upon that “A-HA!” moment that will make everything from there-on out easier? Do you believe that maybe you just don’t hate yourself ENOUGH yet?

I used to feel this way, too. My epiphany was always lurking somewhere in the future, rendering all current efforts useless.

I used to think:

When I’m in college, I’ll mature and feel differently.

When I’m done with my senior thesis, I can really take the time to evaluate my life. Things will fall into place.

When I’m in France, I can learn the art-de-vivre, and I will know how to savor food.

When I start working full-time, I’ll see that I can’t keep doing this to myself.

stop binge eating

Eventually I got tired of waiting for some mythical day to come and rescue me from my own self-loathing. I put down my shovel, and tried to create my own epiphany.

Stop Binge Eating: Rock Bottom is Where You Refuse to Keep Digging.

If you’re anything like me, you probably have a tireless faculty for self-sabotage. There isn’t any moment “real” enough that would convince you to get your shit together. In fact, if such a moment existed, you would probably just beat yourself up about it, believing if you only tried harder, if you only hated yourself a little more, you’d make it out of this predicament.

Self-hatred is your shovel, and fear is your motivation.

These emotions don’t magically disappear when you feel horrible enough; you just have to make the conscious decision to stop acting on them.

stop binge eating

Many people who say they’re recovered make it seem as if one day, after a long series of trial and error and heart ache and indigestion, things just “clicked” for them. As if by magic, they perceived the error of their ways and changed course.

This is no-doubt true for some people, but I would imagine it doesn’t ring true for most.

For most people, the desire to change doesn’t occur in a single moment in time. It does not fall from the heavens, or strike like a muse. It is the accumulation of many steps forward and backward. It is a daily refusal to fall through the cracks of doubt.

Perhaps I’m guilty of making it seem like one day life just made sense, and I knew from there exactly what to do differently. This is untrue. Despite offering you all tips and tricks, I still have days where I can’t take my own advice. Yesterday, for example, I restricted despite being hungry, and wound up gorging myself on Nutella and Runts.

The difference is that I no longer use this “slip-up” as negative energy. I learn from it, using it to propel myself forward and UP OUT OF THE HOLE, rather than further down the tunnel of soil. Slip-ups become new tools, new ways of understanding yourself.

Use them to climb instead of burrow.

Every day, you must refuse to stop digging,

It’s OK if you mess up. This DOESN’T mean you’re broken or that you’re not trying hard enough. It doesn’t mean you’re a hopeless cause, or that you’re fundamentally different from everyone else.

A mistake simply means you’re a human blessed with the remarkable capacity to adapt and respond.

Today can be the day you waited for.

Put down your shovel, and begin your ascent.

Does even a bite of “junk food” make you binge? Here’s why.

If you’re anything like me, you know the following scenario all too well:

It’s been an exhausting day. You’re tired, overwhelmed and probably more than a little irritable. You know you should probably wash the sweat of your face and go to bed, but your mind is still abuzz from the day’s tribulations and mini-injustices.

If you could just calm down, you’d feel better.

So, to soothe yourself, you decide to indulge in a cookie from the packet you picked up from the supermarket (this week would be different, you thought, assuring yourself that future-you would be much more capable of fighting of any urge to binge). What’s the harm in a single cookie?

You DESERVE this cookie after picking up that extra shift at work. You DESERVE this cookie for not losing your cool with your mother-in-law.

One bite, and your neurons explode in pleasure (In fact, if scientists scanned your brain at this pivotal moment, they would probably confuse the image with an aerial shot of the Fourth of July).

This cookie was immensely satisfying, so much so that you consider closing the packet and heading upstairs to bed.

But guilt creeps in and suddenly, a deluge of thoughts:

 Well, I’ve already had this one, I might as well…

I screwed it up. Better take advantage before I have to give it all up tomorrow…

I can’t even resist one cookie. How can I resist this entire packet?

 binge eating self-sabotage

There is a small moment of silence before you buckle. FUCK IT! you think as you angrily begin to shovel fistfuls of chocolate chips into your mouth.

The Fuck-it Binge Mentality

What do flat tires have to do with binge eating?

In the past, when I’ve Googled ways to stop sabotaging myself by binging after eating one “unhealthy thing,” I stumbled across the following idea on more than one occasion:

“Binging because you felt bad about eating one cookie is like popping the remaining three tires when you’re upset that you have a flat.”

This never resonated with me. After all, the function of a car is to DRIVE, to propel itself forward. Even with a single flat tire, the car cannot function, so it essentially does not matter if there is a single flat tire, or four.

Of course deciding to pop the remaining three tires will increase the amount of time it takes to recover from the incident (15 minutes versus an hour or so), but I could always understand WHY someone would act this way. Maybe the release of frustration that followed popping the tires seemed worth the extra time it would take to repair the car.

When I applied this analogy to my own binge eating experience, I felt the same way. I TOTALLY understand why someone would eat a bag of cookies after attempting to eat just one. In fact, it doesn’t even seem THAT unreasonable to me.

That’s when I realized I was looking at the issue backwards. I was treating my symptoms (bingeing after eating something “unhealthy”) as the problem instead of addressing the cause: my rigid thoughts and food rules.

It’s not about the binge, it’s about your thoughts

The reason the aforementioned person pops their tire is because they’re frustrated by the failure of the PERCEIVED function of the car (moving, driving, taking them somewhere, etc.).

Let’s imagine, however, that another person perceives the function of their car as a place for them to live (they just lost their house, and have no money for gas, therefore driving is not relevant). Would this person sabotage their tires in frustration if ONE single tire became flat? Or would stress-relief be a none-issue for them, as the purpose of the car remains exactly the same as before? This individual may not be so upset about a flat tire, and probably wouldn’t consider popping the other three in despair.

What does this tell you?

Self-sabotaging yourself by bingeing is CAUSED BY WHAT YOU BELIEVE THE “GOAL” OF YOUR EATING TO BE. It is sparked by your thoughts.

 Rigid food rules lead to self-sabotaging binges 

In order to stop, you need to figure out what your hidden food rules are. You need to ask yourself what you believe to be “ruined” when you eat one cookie, and why you then feel compelled to eat the whole bag.

If you believe the GOAL of your diet/recovery is to eat healthy or clean or low-carb or paleo 100% of the time, then yes, essentially it does not mater if you had ONE cookie or TEN since the goal collapsed the moment you took that first bite.

From this perspective, IT MAKES SENSE to eat as many as possible and start fresh tomorrow.

But this type of black-and-white thinking leaves little room for progress or life, and is largely unsustainable. No one eats perfectly 100% of the time, and you need to allow flexibility in your life if you ever want to have a more neutral relationship with food.

How to embrace junk food without bingeing

First, compile a list of your food “rules/goals” that may lead you to self-sabotage. Here were/are some of mine:

  1. I must eat healthy 100% of the time.
  2. I cannot have more than one serving of carbs a day.
  3. I can NEVER drink my calories.
  4. If I’m going out to eat, that’s the only meal I can have for the day.

Find a way to alter these rules so that they allow more flexibility and spontaneity in your life.

  1. I will nourish my body with healthy foods as much as possible, but I am allowed to eat cookies whenever I feel like it.
  2. Nothing is off-limits, and I can eat what I enjoy throughout the day.
  3. I aim to stay hydrated with water and tea, but I can always enjoy a Snapple or other drink if I want to.
  4. Eating out is not an excuse to skip meals. I will care for myself no matter what.

By changing your perceptions, boundaries between “good” and “bad” eating become much more forgiving and fluid.

If you take baby steps, eating a bite of a cookie will no longer feel like a game-changer.