The pressure that comes from cravings can feel almost unbearable. It can be so powerful that it distracts us from other areas of our life. Is there a way to handle this?
In this Q&A episode, Alexandra addresses this concern, talks about why it exists and what we can do about it.
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.
Transcript of episode
Hello explorers, and welcome to another Q&A episode of Unbroken. I’m your host, Alexandra Amor.
A reminder that I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear your questions about an overeating habit or another habit that you’re struggling with. You can submit that your you can submit your question to alexandraamor.com/question.
The question today that I’m going to address is this:
When I feel a craving, it feels like life and death. How do I stop that?
So this, again, is a question from my struggle with overeating. And I hope it’s helpful for you to talk about this. When I experienced food cravings, they did really feel like life and death, they felt like I was possessed, it felt overwhelming in my body. Every once in a while, I would bump into someone really unkind who, if I was explaining that feeling, they would say something like, well just put your fork down, like, what’s the big deal? Just stop going to the fridge.
But the driving feeling that I experienced, wasn’t one that obviously was that easy to deal with, to battle to set aside and just pretend that it wasn’t there. Now I know enough to know that that feeling is part of our divine design, and that it was trying so hard to get my attention. And that’s why the feeling felt so strong. And I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for how strong it was. I’m grateful for how persistent it was because it finally did get my attention.
As I began to explore this understanding, the Inside-Out Understanding, and began to see what those cravings were really about that’s when they began to fall away.
Let’s go back to when they feel like life and death, which you may have experienced as well. I’ll just say a little bit more about what that felt like, in the hope that this might resonate with you. It felt like the craving, like it was on my mind and in my attention. If I was sitting watching a TV program and had a craving for potato chips, let’s say, I could think about very little else until I dealt with that, until I went and got the potato chips.
I could try to ignore it. But it did take a lot of energy to do that. And it often felt like the other things that were going on in my life, the volume went down on them, because I was having to pay so much attention to the craving in me and trying to fight with it. And then eventually I would just give up, of course, it was too hard. It took too much energy. It really felt compulsive. And again, that’s for a reason that feeling is trying to get our attention.
So I want to say a couple of things about this.
One is that when we feel that driving need, it’s not a comment on our moral failing, or our lack of willpower, like I talked about in last week’s episode, or our inability to take care of ourselves.
It’s not a comment on those sorts of things. And of course, that’s how we interpret them, right? We’re trying to get rid of the drive to overeat, we’re trying to stop it from coming around. We’re trying to circumvent it with all the tools and strategies that we use. And when we fail at doing that it can be really devastating. I know for sure that I had 30 years of feeling like a failure, feeling like I had this one task that I wanted to do which was just to stop my cravings or overpower them with my will. I failed and I failed again and again and again for all those years. And in one way, failing was a relief, because then I wasn’t using all that energy to fight the craving. But then of course, on the other hand, it felt terrible because I was falling down on this goal that I had set myself.
So yeah, a lot of kind of complex and, and feelings that were in opposition to one another. And we all know that cycle. I’ve even seen it described in some of the old paradigm psychological texts that I studied in relation to trying to heal this problem. That the tension of the craving builds up and up and up. And then there’s relief that comes with giving in to the craving, and then recrimination starts. And that goes up around in the cycle. And then the whole thing starts all over again. I’m very familiar with that. And I suspect you are too.
So that was the first thing that I wanted to say that, that when we can set aside any thoughts and feelings that we have beating ourselves up for fighting cravings and then failing and giving in to them, that can really lighten the load of our thinking. In our culture, it can seem very counterintuitive, but thinking less about this about this “problem” that we have, these cravings that we have, giving it a lot less weight, or holding it much more lightly. Not considering it to be a problem is a really great first step toward healing it.
That was something that took me a long time to grasp, because I was just so used to seeing those cravings as the enemy, they really felt like they were the thing that had to defeat, I had to figure this out. And the longer the battle that went on the worse, of course, I felt.
The other thing is that when we start to explore this inside out understanding, we do recognize that our experience is changeable. And variable. That’s another word that I talked to Christian MacNeil, and Barbara Sarah Smith, about on a couple of earlier interview episodes of the podcast. And seeing this is one of the things that actually really helps us to hold our cravings lighter, and to layer less thinking onto them, quiet our thinking down a little bit, when we realize that our experience comes and goes.
Our experience of life is like a river or like the weather, like the clouds in the sky. It’s shifting and changing all the time. And there’s really nothing we need to do about that. It quiets down on its own, and it speeds up on its own as well. When we begin to see that then a little space develops between us and our thinking and feeling. Because we realize the bottom line is we’re not responsible in a way for the things that are flowing through us. And so that was key for me as well was really seeing that changeable nature of my feelings, and knowing that I didn’t need to do anything about them.
So that’s the big thing very often when we have an overeating habit or another kind of habit that’s unwanted. We’re using the substance, whatever it is to, to control our feelings, to control our mood, to make ourselves feel better, and which is perfectly natural, perfectly innocent. There’s nothing wrong with that. And when we begin to see that we don’t actually have to do that, that if I’m in a bad mood. It’s going to last as long as it lasts, just like a rain storm and then it’s going to settle down again and go away.
This is really key to helping us to heal an unwanted habit. Because suddenly our peace of mind is not dependent on our moods and if we can be at peace, even when things are a bit stormy within us.
So those are the two main points that I wanted to make about that question about why cravings feel so persuasive. And how do we deal with that? I hope that’s been helpful for you.
And again, if you’d like to submit a question, please do. I’d love to hear from you. You can do that at alexandraamor.com/question.
I’m sending you away with lots of love and I will talk to you again next week. Take care. Bye.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai