Innocently, when we are struggling with an overeating or binge eating habit, we can come to believe that peace of mind exists outside ourselves. We can believe that ‘if’ or ‘when’ certain scenarios happen – like, when we stop overeating or binge eating – only then we will feel peaceful and begin to love and appreciate ourselves.
Today coach and podcaster Beka Elle is here to share that, actually, peace of mind and feelings of well-being exist within us all the time. We cannot ever be separated from them. And it is when we lean into this idea that we begin to experience lasting change.
Beka Elle helps people come home to themselves. Whether it’s feeling stuck with unwanted habits and anxiety, or feeling a lack of purpose, she points people back to their own innate wisdom. she is passionate about helping people find freedom from their limiting beliefs.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- How are thinking is so changeable yet our essential nature is constant
- On the different approach the inside-out understanding takes to healing issues with food and overeating or binge eating
- How our minds innocently try to optimize our experience of life
- Why holding onto thought patterns doesn’t set us free
- Learning to welcome all feelings and how that improves our relationship with food and ourselves
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Dr. Amy Johnson
- Beka’s post: Guilt around food choices isn’t helpful
- Beka’s post: The gift of bad habits
- The Lived Podcast
- Beka’s monthly free Soul Huddles group
Transcript of Interview with Beka Elle
Alexandra: Welcome to unbroken Becky Gagnon.
Beka Elle: Thank you so much, Alexandra.
Alexandra: I’m so glad to talk to you.
Why don’t you start out tell us a little bit about your background and how you got interested in the Inside-out Understanding
Beka: I came into this understanding out of desperation actually. I struggled for about 12 years with cycles of eating disorders, which started out as innocent dieting in my teenage years. And then that turned into overly restrictive dieting, where I lost too much weight. And then my body fought back and I became a binge eater.
Then I became a bulimic, when I felt like I couldn’t get the binge eating under control, but I still felt like I needed to lose weight. So I struggled with that. And then there was depression and anxiety in there too, sort of just this overall feeling of feeling lost, not feeling like myself, whatever that meant. Feeling as one feels when they’re just over identify with their own mind.
Since the mind changes like the weather, it felt like I changed with the weather and just feeling like I didn’t know why I was here. I always felt like I needed to lose weight or be better in some way, or prove my worth in some way.
So I started with that for about 12 years and tried a whole bunch of things from traditional therapy to different like spiritual understandings, techniques, different types of diets. I thought that if I was just addicted to sugar or something or some food and if I eliminated that, then all the problems would go away. But of course, none of that really worked.
I happened to stumble upon Dr. Amy Johnson, just from searching on Google, for somebody to help me with binge eating. And I ended up doing coaching with her for I forget how long the package was, I think maybe nine months or something. And slowly but surely, I just began to see things in a totally new way.
Then I trained with her to be a coach. And now I coach people to help with those same things and more.
Alexandra: You said something really interesting in there. Well, you said a few interesting things.
You said your “body fought back with the binging”. Can you say a bit more about what you see there?
Beka: The way this looks to me is, our body is really wise, and wants to keep us alive. And so when we restrict too much, the mind interprets that as a period of starvation or restriction. And there’s some brain science that points back to as we evolved the mind would become obsessed with food after periods of non restriction, so that if you saw a bunch of berries, or whatever, you would eat all of them in order to be able to stay alive for for any upcoming periods of starvation.
So that’s how I see how my brain reacted to that, and just how brains react to dieting in general. I see this cycle with a lot of my clients, too, it’s where it’s just like, anytime there’s like some restriction or they are trying to lose weight. They’ll go on some diet that’s either eliminating a ton of different kinds of foods or just not enough, they’re trying to eat under a certain number of calories.
And then binge eating is almost a natural rebound from that. That just looks almost like cause and effect to me at this point.
Alexandra: I was going to say, and the way you’re describing it, it just sounds completely natural. It doesn’t sound normal when we’re restricting so hard.
Beka: It’s like of course like our body wants to stay alive. Of course it’s going to do that.
Alexandra: Another thing I love that you said was that you said you thought that when your mind changed, like the weather, that you changed as well. For listeners, can you describe what you mean by that?
Beka: What I see about minds is that they’re always just churning out information. They’re like little computers. They’re always making predictions, analyzing the past, they’re just always computing. And what we see about it, when you really pay attention to it, in one moment something that looks like a really good idea will, in another moment, look like a really bad idea.
You might do something one afternoon and then wake up at four in the morning being like, oh, my gosh, that was a horrible decision. Why did I do that? We see that about so many different types of things. I think that’s why people talk about how the ego is inherently insane and I feel that the mind too, it’s just always, in the moment, just throwing out a bunch of ideas. And none of them are true, or, like necessarily good or anything like that. It’s just churning.
When we’re constantly focused on the mind, when it looks like that’s who we are, which to most of us, it does look like that’s who we are because it’s there all the time. It’s literally in our head, controlling the way that we see life a lot of the times. And when we don’t really see that there’s another place to look, we feel crazy, like we’re just going with we, it looks like that thing that we really, really regret doing? And was really wrong in this moment. And how could I have done that? And then the next thing you’re doing it again.
I felt this with food a lot. My mind would tell me that it was like the best idea ever to go and binge. And then five minutes later, beat me up for it.
Alexandra: How is that different from the constant that is you?
Beka: The constant, to me, feels like this oneness essence. One way that I’ve heard it described, that I really like is, it’s the thing that’s observing throughout your entire life. When you were a kid, it was there. It was observing, and it was aware of everything that you were thinking and feeling and seeing and doing.
Even though everything about you changed, including your body, and your mind, and your brain and your beliefs and your opinions, and the fact that you have a name, and all of those things, even though all of that changed about you, you’re still the one looking through the lens. I think that’s the easiest way to get an idea of it.
It’s like that awareness of the whole thing. And I think when we sink into that, we have this feeling like that thing is connected to everything. And it’s this peaceful presence that is never perturbed and can’t be broken or tarnished in any way.
Alexandra: What do you see as the difference then between the other techniques and modalities that you tried to heal your eating issues versus this one?
Beka: There are a lot of things that are different. I think, again, that identification with the mind is really a key thing. Seeing that we are not our mind. I think a lot of traditional therapy as I went through it, or a lot of coaching practices, or even things like law of attraction type stuff, it’s all about changing thoughts with other thoughts, or replacing thoughts. And it’s not that that’s not helpful.
I still like to think about how to view things in different ways. But I like to do that when it’s available to me. When my mind is in a place where it feels natural. I think the main difference with this is seeing that the mind is not you and those thoughts aren’t you and those thoughts aren’t true. So when we really see everything as that everything changes.
I think another thing that separates this understanding is along that vein, I don’t really see us as being in control of our thoughts, even though sometimes it looks like we are. Sometimes, like I said, we can try on new ways of thinking or whatever. I don’t really see it that way. And that’s something that’s is, I think, really different about this.
It’s like seeing our thoughts and feelings as the weather. No matter how hard we try, we can’t change the weather. And if we do try to change the weather, especially outside in the middle of a storm, it’s going to be really, really, really frustrating and hard and we’re not going to get anywhere. So, yeah, I think that’s another difference.
And then just the idea that there’s a home to come back to. There’s a peaceful presence, an awareness, that’s just always there. That’s not trying to judge a situation, not trying to make it better not trying to get you out of a habit or anything like that. It’s just observing. I think being able to come back to that is so cool. Because even in those situations, where you’re like, Why did I do that? Or man, I really wish I could do this thing, or I’m going to do this or when we’re in that mind spinning place. We know that there’s more to see, it’s just that we’re really pressed up against the glass.
That was an all over the place answer. But it basically comes down to instead of adding on strategies, it’s more of like a subtractive way of seeing things.
Alexandra: I thought your answer was great. I’d love to know, your last point was about that peaceful presence, that home base feeling.
Was there anything that you did or saw that helped you to connect with that?
Beka: That’s such a good question. I think there are some things that I can think of to put us there. But I think one thing that comes to mind is just this idea that you’re never disconnected from it.
I think that usually people are like, Okay, how do I connect to it? Or how do I feel that more? aAnd just seeing that that’s a mind wanting to perfect and experience as our minds are always doing. In my mind to there are still moments where I’m like, Oh, I want to be in the oneness more or whatever. But just seeing that that’s exactly what a mind does, and was designed to do, is try to somehow optimize this experience, or grab that one more thing.
So just seeing that, like, even as we’re asking that question, we’re there. We can’t be disconnected from it. So I think that’s a key point.
And then also, I’ve seen a lot of people point to meditation or something like that. Personally, I don’t really meditate regularly. I’ve had some good meditation experiences. But again, I think that’s like when that feels available and right to you, that’s something to do. But it’s just sort of stepping back and stepping back and stepping back from everything that you think defines you and your experience if you wondering who you are, if you’re not your name, if you’re not your body, if you’re not your life experience, if you’re if you’re not your habits, if you’re not all of your opinions and beliefs.
I don’t know if I said that already. But if you think about what you’re not, then what you are is the void in which all of those things arise. So the one thing that I think it can be fun to play with, when it feels fun to play with that but it doesn’t always but just knowing that even if it doesn’t feel available, you can’t be disconnected from it. It just can’t be so.
Alexandra: Right. And that goes back to your point about the subtractive nature of this understanding.
When we want to grab on to doing something or figuring something out there’s actually so much less to do than you think there is.
Beka: Yes, I see so much about how to love yourself. And it’s like all these practices: do this for 20 minutes a day and then do this and then affirm this and all that. And it’s like, oh my gosh, it’s a full-time job.
But when we realize like, no, it’s so much simpler than that. It’s really just right there in front of us, or even just in us all the time. It’s so nice, because we realize this is the is the way and releasing feels so good.
Alexandra: So true. Let’s talk about your work a little bit.
You have a post on your website about guilt and shame, specifically around food, and how they aren’t helpful. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Beka: I think we’re used to seeing, somewhere along the line, we get told that guilt and shame are really good motivators. I used to think that if I could hate myself enough, then I would have the motivation to starve myself more. And I just don’t see that as the way to lasting change anymore. It might influence behaviour in the short term but it just doesn’t work long term.
With food, especially, I think guilt and shame and in any arena are actually not helpful. I know that can sound almost like a controversial thing to say. But that’s just how I see it. But with food stuff, in particular, it’s such a good illustration, because a lot of the time the reason why we have any habit, and food or comfort with food is one of those, it’s because we’re trying to avoid a painful feeling, really. It’s the mind’s solution to not feel something that’s going on.
Shame feels really, really bad so that’s something that we want to avoid. So what I see a lot of the time is people will carry so much shame around their body, like not being good enough, needing to lose weight, needing to change in some way. And then all that heaviness that that brings has us reaching for that food, and then it’s like just this double whammy, because then you feel so much shame around doing the behavior.
Then that shame just makes you want to do the behavior more. So it becomes this just awful spiral that just feels terrible. I think in general guilt and shame are just heavy thinking. They’re just really like some replaying of a painful past, memory or belief. And we don’t need to carry that around.
In fact, and the ironic thing is, when when we’re able to release those stories a little bit, or release our grip on them, and feel whatever’s coming up and sometimes do the habit sometimes not but when there’s not that heavy energy around it, things fall away so much more easily. Holding on to any thought pattern isn’t going to set you free. It’s the opposite of freedom.
Alexandra: Do you do you find that your clients have an easy time letting go of shame and guilt? Or is that something they struggle with?
Beka: I think it depends. Sometimes I think we’re all waiting for permission to not have to carry those around. And just having somebody be like, hey, I don’t actually think those are helpful or serving you in any way. It’s like, oh, like there’s something and then they’re like, okay, good.
I think it can be hard if if it’s something that you’ve felt for a long time, especially if it looks to you, and it usually does look to them, at first, like it serves them in some way. People usually think that if they didn’t feel those things, and if they weren’t so concerned about bodily shame, then they would just eat all the time, and just things would be so out of control, and their binge eating would be worse. But they don’t realize that it would actually be a lot better if they didn’t believe those things.
I guess I should clarify too; sometimes those feelings come up when we’re programmed to feel them. They’re going to bubble up. Maybe you eat something that you previously never allowed yourself to eat, and you feel a shame response to it come up in your body. It’s not about fighting that, or saying like, Oh, that shame, I shouldn’t feel that.
You can feel anything and welcome anything, but just seeing that you don’t have to believe the story that it has around it I think is the key thing, and the more we can ironic, again, it’s like, I feel like there’s so many like, things that look like contradictions with this. But if you can feel that and just be with it, I think it wants to come up and out of your system. But if you if we sit there and believe the story and think like okay, well, this is how I’m going to fix it, or this is how I’m going to diet next time or whatever.
Alexandra: It’s so interesting, isn’t it, that feelings like guilt and shame only contribute to making a habit worse. And yet somehow we convince ourselves that those feelings are going to make it better.
I myself who struggled for 30 years with overeating. I never figured that out until somebody pointed it out to me and you’re right. We think, “If I felt more guilty or more shame, maybe this would get better.” I don’t know why we don’t clue into that. more quickly. It’s just one of those crazy things about life.
On the the flip side of this, you also share on your website that bad habits are a gift. Tell us about that.
Beka: I think something that I noticed with food behaviors that I definitely noticed with myself is, as I said before, we engage in a behavior in order to not feel stuff, that’s how it feels to me. And a lot of the times, we have these running stories or beliefs in our head that make up their links to things that are so painful that we’d like just don’t want to look there in our mind, or to anything to get us to just not look there.
Sometimes I would notice that, maybe I’d be like sitting watching TV and there would be something that will come up on the TV that hit something in me. I don’t really love to like talk about triggers, or whatever. But that’s how it feels sometimes, right? We hear something and then I would all of a sudden find my hand and a bag of chips. Or find myself walking over to the fridge.
I began to see, Wow, that’s so interesting that that happens, because sometimes it really feels like we just do these things really automatically. And we do that because I think because we’re trying to avoid feeling whatever it was we’re avoiding, the awareness of some belief or story.
The cool thing is that action of going and doing that thing showed us that a lot of times I think we do these things because we feel like crap, but we don’t realize that we really don’t necessarily need to feel like crap. We do because that’s the human experience. And we’re in this contrast and whatever. But when it’s something that we’ve just been holding on to us, like some belief we don’t have to hold on to it.
Our habit is almost like a little alarm clock that wakes us up to this idea that there’s something there that I’m believing. There’s some false story here that I’m believing that I just haven’t even been able to look at. I don’t want to say confront it, because that sounds like you’re about to like go to war with it, but shine a light on it. It’s like a gentler way.
I think bad habits feel like a gift in that way. Because sometimes I’ll be like, even still, I’ll find myself like walking over to the fridge. And I’m like, wait, I’m not like, oh, like, what? Someone just said something and it reminded me of something. And now I’m like, Oh, that’s so nice that I had this little this little thing that my brain does. To tell me like, No, it doesn’t have to be so hard. Life doesn’t have to be so painful.
Alexandra: I totally agree. I use the analogy of the check engine light. That those those behaviors because we don’t like them necessarily, or they feel out of place. They are just like you said a little, a little alarm clock to wake us up to what’s going on.
Beka: I love that analogy, the check engine light one. Yeah, that’s awesome.
Alexandra: I love that on your coaching page you mention that you help your clients ‘come home to themselves’. I just thought that was such a nice phrase made me feel so good.
Can you tell us what coming home to yourself means to you?
Beka: Coming home, to me, means coming back to, like we talked about, coming back to that true you. Which to me, it’s that awareness. It feels to me like, and obviously, I don’t know if this is true, but it feels to me, like we come into this life experience from the oneness that we all are. And we’re seeking contrast, and we want to like come into this life and play and do all these individual looking things.
We’re built with this beautiful, like you said, check engine light, or like a little alarm system to show us like, oh, hang on, you’re going a little far into the individual part. You’re going a little far into the contrast. Can you back off of it? And so yeah, I think that is what I help people see is that there’s, there’s a place to come back to when we’re feeling not ourselves.
People come usually feeling like they’re in some hell, because they’ve been trying to kick this habit for so long. It feels like it’s ruining my life, it feels like it’s stopping me from pursuing the things that I want to pursue. Helping people see that there’s a home in themselves that has never left them that they can come back to. And it’s always there, and they can go out and they can play in the contrast and then the individual but then always get to know that like they can they can come home to themselves.
Alexandra: I really agree. I think that’s something that we’re not taught; that we we are our own safe place. That peace and well being exists and is there like we talked about earlier all the time, you don’t need to even access this. It’s just there. And it’s just something that escapes us as we go along.
You mentioned playing in the contrast, and I haven’t heard that before. Can you explain what that means?
Beka: I think it probably came from I don’t know, I probably heard that from like Abraham-Hicks or something. Because if we are all just connected, and we’re all this peaceful energy, it’s the idea that the contrast is like this idea that there are different things. There’s a you and there’s a me, there’s like my cat, there’s a computer, there’s like these boundaries that our mind draws around things. And when we view life in that way, like it really actually gets to be fun.
It’s like a game almost like that we get to experience all these different kinds of emotions and different personalities and we get to be in fear and be in happiness and all this stuff. So it’s like, getting to play with that and experience all of it and let all of it move through us is like there’s just this giant fun game. So that’s what I think about when I think of contrast. The individual separateness that we see in this world that our brain is very much a part of, and really, really good at playing.
Alexandra: Okay, thank you. That’s awesome.
I wondered if there’s anything you’d like to share about this understanding that we haven’t touched on today?
Beka: I think one thing that comes to mind is just following a feeling, following a curiosity towards it. I think sometimes, especially if people are new to seeing life this way there can be almost like a confusion, or, “What are you talking about?” But what about this? And what about this, and just knowing that, like, that’s all perfect and fine.
Even if it doesn’t look like life could be viewed this way, just knowing that anything that you’re going through is temporary and if people are going through pain or whatever, just knowing that everything moves through. Life is just wanting to move them through that. So just staying in curiosity. And following that, and following a peaceful feeling that you might get from hearing the stuff that you talk about on your on your podcast and stuff we talked about today.
Alexandra: That’s a lovely point. Thank you for saying that. That’s great.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Beka: My website, you can go to BekaElle.com. You can find everything there. I have a podcast called The Lived podcast that you can find on there. You can find my Instagram, I sometimes post little things related to this understanding. And you can always reach out for one on one coaching.
I also have a little free community called Soul Huddles that meets once a month. That is completely free. People join for zoom calls. It’s like an office hours style thing. Those are all ways that you can find me and I’d love to hear from you.
Alexandra: Great. I’ll put links to those in the show notes so that people can find you.
Beka: Thank you.
Alexandra: Well, thank you. It’s just been so lovely talking to you, Becky. I appreciate it.
Beka: It’s been so lovely talking to you, too. I’m so glad that we connected.
Alexandra: Oh, you’re so welcome. Thanks again.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai