When we use the phrases ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ in the conversation about the nature of Thought, how does that relate to resolving an unwanted habit like overeating? What does the way we look at our thinking, and whether it’s upstream or downstream, have to do with weight-loss? Today’s episode answers these questions.
- What does looking upstream or downstream mean?
- Examples of getting caught in our thinking when we look downstream
- What does looking upstream entail?
- How does looking upstream resolve an unwanted habit like overeating?
Resources related to this episode:
Transcript of Episode
Hello Explorers, and welcome to another Q&A episode of Unbroken. I’m your host, Alexandra Amor.
Today our question is, what does it mean to look upstream when we’re talking about diet and weight loss?
Someone that I was interviewing recently touched on the subject of looking upstream or downstream. And this was something that confused me a little bit at the beginning of this exploration. And also, previously to that I remember some family members talking about looking upstream versus looking downstream years ago, and I didn’t really know what it meant. And now today, I find it a really, really useful way to look at what we’re exploring with the three principles understanding.
I’m going to talk about that specifically, as it relates to resolving an overeating habit, and to diets and weight loss and all that kind of stuff.
In this understanding, in the Three Principles Understanding, we’re always looking upstream. And I’m going to come back to that in just a second.
First, what I want to do is talk about what it means to look downstream.
In our culture, currently, what we tend to do reflexively, and because that’s what other people do, and because that’s where our culture seems to be focused, is we tend to look downstream at any given issue.
When you think about a river, which is really all this metaphor is about whatever’s going on downstream from where you are, is the stuff that metaphorically is more granular, more detailed, definitely. We’re more absorbed in the content of the things when we’re looking downstream at them.
The reason we use this metaphor is because what happens is when we look upstream, and we understand what’s going on up there, then the things that are downstream resolve themselves.
Let me give you a specific example, so that we’re on the same page.
When we think about dieting and weight loss and resolving an unwanted overeating habit, very often, and I absolutely did this, I spent a lot of my time looking downstream at all the details around that over eating habit.
- When did it occur during the day?
- What kind of foods was I attracted to?
- Did I feel like I had an unhealthy preoccupation with or an addiction to?
- And what sort of things could trigger me to want to engage in my overeating habit?
- Did any of my specific other kinds of habits in my life, or thoughts about things have an effect on my overeating habit?
I would get really caught up in all those kinds of details that, in the end, I realized didn’t actually matter. And that’s why we’re going to talk about what’s upstream. But I’ll give you a specific example.
I’ve talked more than once about my soda habit, and I talked about it in It’s Not About the Food and how that habit disappeared. But for 25 plus years, while that unwanted habit was ongoing, I could get really fixated on the fact that it always happened at noon. I didn’t tend to drink soda outside of that. It was always just something that I had at lunchtime. It wasn’t a habit that that I participated in throughout the day.
But at noon time, that compulsion, that drive to habitually have a can of soda was definitely with me. For years, I really tried to look at what I could do specifically about that situation and that time of day, and that specific substance that I was overusing.
Those are all the kinds of details that I would spend a lot of time looking at.
And then I would also and what we do when we’re looking downstream is then we develop strategies to deal with those kinds of situations and that sort of granular detail that we’ve gotten into about the unwanted habits. So for example, I would try things like having a glass of fizzy water with a wedge of lemon at lunchtime, instead of having my soda. I never did try diet soda but that’s something that’s that some people might do instead, so they’re still getting the, the taste, but less sugar, or whatever it is.
Those are the kinds of techniques and strategies that we tend to use when we’re looking downstream. And what I liken in it, too, is that it can eventually feel like when we’re managing our feelings around whatever our unwanted habit is, and the behavioral situations around them, it can start to feel like at least it did for me, like I was spinning a whole bunch of plates. So I’ve got all these thin sticks, and I’ve got plates spinning all over. And I’m trying to manage each of these different plates that are spinning at different speeds. I’ve started them at different times, you’ve seen plate spinners, no doubt on videos, it’s remarkable what they can do. But it started to feel like that for me.
It felt like that for a very long time. And that would manifest itself in situations like I don’t want to go to a certain restaurant at lunchtime because then I’ll feel like I want to have my soda at lunchtime, which I was trying to avoid, or I don’t want to have certain foods. I knew that if I had certain a certain food that matched really well with a soda, then that would be my downfall and I would have the soda.
I hope you’re getting a picture of the sort of things that we innocently, so innocently, do in order to deal with an unwanted habit when we’re looking downstream.
Now I want to shift and talk about what we mean when we talk about looking upstream, which is where we’re always looking with this Three Principles understanding. What’s happening when we when we’re looking upstream, is that we’re looking at how we work as human beings. As a species. How all of us work all the time.
We’re looking at the nature of thought, with a capital T, and what that how that affects our lives.
We’re looking at the fact that we live in the world of our thinking, not in the world of our circumstances. When we start to understand how we work as human beings, and what is true for all of us all the time, which are those things that I’ve just mentioned, then the things that are downstream, start to resolve themselves on their own.
When I started to see the nature of thought, with a capital T, and that I was living in the world of my thinking, when I began to grasp that, what that meant was that I stopped taking my thinking quite so seriously. I started to create a little gap between myself and my thoughts.
By doing that, that’s what enables the situations, the circumstances that are happening downstream to resolve themselves, because they’re not necessary anymore. And the tangled thinking that’s occurring as we look downstream, that’s resolving itself as well.
When we when we look upstream, what we’re also looking toward is the nature of insight and how we change.
Change always, always happens insightfully so we can think about it this way: insight is upstream, and what our minds know is downstream. I’ve talked before on the on one of these Q&A episodes about how our minds know what they know. We can get caught in knowledge loops. So another way to look at it is that all that knowledge and all those loops that we can get caught in are downstream.
But when we look upstream, what we’re ready to experience, what we’re what we understand is true about life is that change occurs insightfully. Upstream is the place where wisdom and insight and Universal Intelligence exist. Downstream is where our thinking is really busy and caught up in itself and innocently trying to inform us, trying to help us and trying to help us to understand what’s going on with us.
That’s where definitely I spent 30 plus years reading books and trying to increase my understanding about what was going on without realizing that there was another place that I could look for answers. And that is upstream.
The easy way to visualize this, too, is that if you think about a river, again, if someone is dropping, let’s say, food coloring into a river, and you’re downstream, and you’re trying to catch all the droplets of food coloring that are coming down the river, that’s going to be a really, really difficult task. Almost impossible because the river is constantly moving, and it’s flowing around you. And as soon as you catch on to one droplet of food, colored water 10, others are going to go rushing by. If the river is moving really fast, then your task gets even harder.
So the difference with this understanding is that when we go upstream, and we understand the nature of thought, that’s like removing the bottle of food coloring entirely from the flow of the river. It’s just not being dropped in there anymore. The activity is still going on downstream, but we understand what it is, we understand that it’s thought, that we live in the world of our thinking. But it’s a much, much more peaceful way to be. And we rely on insight to help us to resolve these issues that we have.
So I think that’s about all I have to say about that: the difference between looking upstream and looking downstream when we’re trying to resolve a habit. If you have any questions about that, if it didn’t make sense, please let me know. You can always fill out the form at Alexandramor.com/question, and I’m always, always happy to answer questions from you guys who are listening out there.
If you’d like to learn more about finding freedom from an overeating habit, I encourage you to go to FreedomFromOvereating.com. And there you’ll find lots of information about the online course that I’ve created. There’s over five and a half hours of content in that course. And you’ll find two lessons that you can preview for free. So that’ll give you an idea of what the course contains.
Listeners to the podcast save 20% on the course price when they use the code podcast at checkout.
I hope you are well and taking good care and I will talk to you again next week.