When it comes to breaking unwanted habits we’re up to our eyeballs in understanding. Why then do we struggle to change?
In this Q&A episode, Alexandra answers Carmen’s question about her habit, what she knows and understands, and what else there is to see.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the transcript below.
Transcript of episode
Hello, explorers, and welcome to a Q&A episode of Unbroken. I’m your host, Alexandra Amor. And I’m super excited today because I have my very first question from someone other than myself. So I’ll get to that in just a second.
If you would like to submit a question about resolving unwanted habits, you can do that just like this person did today at alexandraamor.com/question, and I would love to hear from you.
Today’s question is from Carmen. And here’s what she says:
After 7 to 10 days of eating reasonably and being conscious, I always have three to four days of falling back into my old behavior. Even though I’m aware that it is just my thinking, and that I am thinking, I still prefer to eat all the sugary foods and overeat. Why is this? I am completely conscious, and still put eating too much and the wrong things over losing weight and eating healthy.
I know that this is not bad. And I try not to judge myself. But I just think it would be better and much easier to stick to good eating instead of de motivating myself over and over again. After all, I want to eat healthier because of an insight. So how can I forget about that every so often.
And then she sent a couple of little points of clarification about her eating. So she said:
I don’t restrict myself, I try to eat less than before, by only eating sugar every second day. But I still eat enough. I don’t skip meals, and I eat bread, pasta, etc, whatever I feel like.
And she also says:
Even when I am completely at peace, and at my home base and connected to myself, it can still happen that I go and buy chocolate or cookies, and then eat until they are all gone.
Thank you so much Carmen for your question. I really, really appreciate it.
I want to address a couple of really, really juicy topics that are here in your question. This is such a great question. And I love it so much. So let’s jump in.
The first thing I want to address is in the early part of your email here actually, in the first paragraph, one of the really interesting things you say is, “…even though I am aware that it is just my thinking.”
This brings us to a really important point about the difference between understanding and insight.
You do mention that you have had an insight later in the email. But I want to start here with this clarification.
We would say you’ve got under some understanding, which is fantastic. And I really feel like you’re really headed in the right direction. That you’re experiencing your thinking. So that’s really great. And I’m thrilled.
What you need now is more insight.
You said you’ve had at least one insight about food or about your eating habits. But what that question that you put forward points to is that you need more insights.
I want to talk about that and about the difference between understanding and insight.
The example that I thought of is learning to drive. I remember that when I was learning to drive what they had us do first of all, before we even got in the car, was I had to read kind of a an education book about driving. I also had to go to a class, it might have been more than one day. And I had to take a written test at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or whatever it was called at the time I was in Alberta, and do that written test. And if I passed that, then I could have my learner’s permit, and I could start to actually get behind the wheel of a car.
When that happened, when the second part of that happened, and I did get behind the wheel of the car, that was a completely different experience to the learning and the understanding that I had about driving before I actually got in the driver’s seat. So it’s the same subject, but two very different experiences that I had.
When I got behind that driver’s seat, suddenly it was it was just very real. There I was, I could press the gas, the car would go, I could press the brake, it would stop. There were other cars whizzing by all that kind of stuff.
What I’m pointing to in that example, is the difference between understanding and insight. So, that example it’s a little clunky because insight isn’t always mechanical. We’re not doing something physically physical. But it gives you a good idea, I hope anyway, about how it really feels in our body when we understand something logically, and clinically, versus when we have an insight, and suddenly, everything just becomes clearer.
Every time I have an insight, small or large, or whatever they are, it’s the difference between fumbling around in the dark in a room, and sort of knowing where the furniture is and navigating it, versus having all the lights come on. I can even feel the shift in my body.
So that’s what you’re looking for, Carmen, you’re looking for insight, as all of us are, who are dealing with unwanted habits.
And I want to say to while we’re on this part of the question, that this aspect, this having lots of understanding is something that those of us who have been dealing with an unwanted habit, for years or for decades, we really have a ton of understanding.
We are up to our eyeballs and understanding, right?
All the things we’ve tried and all the books we’ve read, and all the messages we’ve received, about just putting our fork down and counting our points and all that stuff. All that is a tremendous amount of understanding.
I don’t know about you, but for me, that did nothing to circumvent my habit. And so that’s the reason that I place such an emphasis on the fact that we’re looking for insight, we’re looking for something quite different than understanding. Understanding is great. And it’s the first step. But then the piece that’s missing from the old paradigm, or the old way that we’ve learned to deal with habits is insight. And it’s a really important piece. That’s why we’re exploring it here.
I’m going to come back to this point about insight in a second. But now right now, I want to address the second part of your question. And what I highlighted was this.
“Even when I am completely at peace, and at my home base.” Carmen talks about when she’s even when she’s feeling that way, she’s still reaching for cookies and chocolate.
This is the second part of my answer.
I want to say that that drive that you’re feeling to reach for the cookies and the chocolate is perfectly healthy.
It actually is a really great sign because it means that you are working in perfect order. It’s very healthy, and it means you’re working perfectly.
The example or the metaphor I want to use is that that drive to reach for the cookies or the chocolate or whatever our “weakness” is, it’s like the valve on a pressure cooker. I have a pressure cooker now and my grandma used to use them years ago, but now they’ve been branded again. I use mine all the time; it’s called an Instant Pot. And it’s got that valve on the top.
Part of what you do, or what I do when I’m cooking with it, depending on how long the food has been in the cooker, sometimes it asks you to release the pressure by moving that valve and then all this steam and air and moisture. It whooshes out of there, and you can hear it and you can see it too, you can see the steam in the air.
Our habits, our drives to overeat, are just like that valve.
They’re entirely necessary. If that valve at the top of the pressure cooker wasn’t there, the pressure cooker might explode. And we definitely don’t want that to happen when it comes to us, that’s for sure.
What’s inside the pressure cooker?
To continue this metaphor, what’s inside is some insecure thinking or busy thoughts. Busy thoughts and insecure thinking is the same. It’s essentially the same thing. So your perfect human design is coming to the rescue actually, and it’s helping you to let off some of the steam from that busy, insecure thinking, by having your reach for your habit.
Because if you notice, what happens when we use our habit when we do our habit is that our thinking really calms down and quiet for a moment. That’s the service that the habit is bringing to you. And it’s actually a few different things. But that’s one of them is that it’s letting you let off some steam from your insecure thinking.
And then the second thing that it’s doing is, it’s like a check engine light. So whenever we feel that urge that drive, that simply lets us know that we are feeling our thinking. It might not even be conscious thoughts about a certain subject ora certain thing that’s going on in our lives. But that, that urge, that drive to over eat or participate in our habit is letting us know that there’s a lot of thinking going on within us, and that we’re innocently focused, even if it’s a little bit subconsciously on that thinking, rather than remembering that there’s really nothing to worry about.
We are entirely made of peace and love, and innate resilience, and resourcefulness. And we’ve forgotten. What happens when we forget is that our thinking gets really insecure, it gets really busy. And so that, like I said, that urge to reach for your habit is simply the red flag, the check engine light, whatever metaphor you want to use, that’s letting you knowthat thinking is going on that it’s inside that pressure cooker there.
So that’s my second point is that just a reminder that your habit is not a problem, and you are not a problem. Your habit is actually part of your perfect and very kind human design. We don’t think of it that way. Perhaps until we come across this understanding, but your design, my design, everybody’s design is perfect, and it’s extremely kind, and it’s always trying to help us.
Now I want to go back to the point about insight.
Both parts of my answer so far have been connected to insight. So when we feel the drive to overeat, it’s letting us know that we are that what we are looking for is insight about our insecure thinking. And so the question then becomes, of course, where do we where do we get that?
Where does insight come from?
I just wanted to wrap up by saying a few things about that. First of all, you know now that your habit is kind and that it’s trying to point you toward this idea that insight is available to you. And it will always do that for you and never give up on you in a way.
So you can therefore, at least what’s happened for me, is that I can hold the fact that I have an unwanted habit much, much more lightly, like 96% more lightly than I used to. It used to be something we I could really beat myself up about of course, because it felt like a you know, a willpower failing, it felt like I was broken in some way. And now that I see that it’s trying to work for me, that I was just misinterpreting the message that it had, I can relax about all that. All that extra thinking that I was layering on to the thinking that was already there.
Thinking about beating myself up and you know how maybe I was lazy or was broken in some way. So hopefully you can hold that habit that you’re having, that reaching for the chocolate and the cookies, much more lightly. And that in itself will reduce some of the pressure that’s in the pressure cooker.
And then the other thing I want to point out about insights is there’s an expression in this exploration, which is “stay in the conversation”. I didn’t really get it at first, but now I really see it is that it’s really that simple. Something happens when we simply listen to and explore this understanding with other people. It does encourage insight.
I know that you are doing that. You mentioned that you’ve taken some classes, and you mentioned you’ve read my book. Thank you for that. What I would say is in your…I don’t want to say search, because that sounds kind of desperate, but in your looking for new fresh insight about the thinking that’s inside your pressure cooker, I would suggest use you continue to explore.
Listen to the other podcasts that you enjoy. Read other books by other people who are exploring this understanding. I’ll mention a couple of here for anybody who’s listening, if you haven’t heard of these.
I recommend one called Addiction: One Cause, One Solution by Christian McNeil and Barbara Sarah Smith, that’s a really great one. I’ve interviewed them both on this podcast. So that may sound familiar.
I also recommend Joseph Bailey’s book called The Serenity Principle. Those two books specifically are about unwanted habits. So that’s really helpful.
But really, any book, any podcast, any webinar, about this understanding, it’s all pointing in the same direction. So even if it isn’t something that’s about habits or food, it’s still going to be looking in that direction, and it will be incredibly helpful to you.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to decide when insight shows up. If we did, if we could flip like a switch, turn that on, we all would, of course, because our unwanted habits cause us to suffer. So I’m afraid that the answers that I’ve given about where to look for insight, that’s the best I can do. They don’t come on demand, but they do come.
Here’s the thing, insight and wisdom is innate to us all. It’s all there within us. We don’t have to even create anything within us to make it happen. We don’t have to create an environment to encourage that. It’s all already there. It’s what we’re made of. It’s simply that the more we come to understand that, the more insight we will have, and the less we will need to reach for our unwanted habits.
I hope that’s been helpful for you, Carmen, and for anybody else who’s listening. Again, I love answering your questions about unwanted habits. So please reach out, go to Alexandraamor.com/question, and fill out the little form there and I’ll be incredibly happy to answer your question on a future episode of the show.
Big thanks to Carmen! I’m sending everybody lots of love and I will talk to you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai