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In this first episode of Unbroken, Alexandra Amor introduces herself, shares about the path that brought her to the Inside-Out Understanding and how it helped her let go of a 30-year overeating habit. She also shares why she works with people to help them let go of their unwanted habits.
Alexandra Amor is an author, coach, and explorer who helps those who want to let go of unwanted habits, including overeating.
For 20 years Alexandra has been writing both fiction and non-fiction books, all with the themes of love, connection, and the search for understanding. She began her writing career with an Amazon best-selling, award-winning memoir about ten years she spent in a cult in the 1990s.
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.
- Growing up in an alcoholic household and the affect that had
- Joining at cult at age 22
- A very brief look at how cults work and how we get ensnared
- On the origins of an overeating habit and what I tried to fix that
- Learning about the Inside-Out Understanding
- Noticing changes starting to happen without doing anything
- How we innocently look in the wrong direction to try to fix an unwanted habit
- What this podcast will be looking at and who I’ll be speaking to
Resources mentioned in this episode
- Book: Cult, a Love Story
- Book: It’s Not About the Food
- Free video series: Freedom From Overeating
Transcript of podcast
Welcome everyone to Unbroken. This is episode one, and I’m your host, Alexandra Amor.
I wanted to take the opportunity in this very first episode to introduce you to who I am, and why I’m here, and the work that I do and why I’m doing this podcast. So let’s dive in.
About Alexandra Amor
I’m an author, and a coach and an explorer. And I’ve chosen the title, Unbroken, for this podcast for a very specific reason. And those of you that are familiar with the Inside-Out understanding, or the 3 Principles, will know or perhaps maybe have an idea of why I’ve chosen that title. And for those of you that aren’t, that are less familiar with those things. I’ll explain along the way.
I want to talk today about the reason I do this work, and one of the biggest reasons is that I had an over eating habit for 30 plus years that I tried to fix with all kinds of things, All The Things, as the kids say, these days, and nothing worked. It wasn’t until I found this, Inside-Out understanding that that started to change. So that’s one of the motivations behind the work that I do.
I particularly focus on working with people who do have an overeating habit or other kinds of habits that are causing them suffering. And again, we’re going to talk about that a little bit more coming up here in just a moment.
Childhood Trauma and then a Cult
So a little bit of background on me. I had what I would call sort of your basic, growing up time, kind of a generic Canadian family; a mom and a dad and I had a brother, and my parents divorced when I was 11. Unfortunately, my dad was an alcoholic for his entire adult life and that really affected his behavior around everybody. I found him to be quite frightening, especially as a little child, but even into my adulthood. He was loud and big and scary, very angry.
I know now that looking back that his alcoholism was, to him, it was a solution. It was a solution to the uncomfortable feelings that he felt. I think it was something that he used to soothe himself. With hindsight, I can see I have a lot of compassion for him, and a lot of understanding about what he was going through, but as a child, of course, not so much. I was frightened of him.
I think what that led to was that when I was coming into adulthood, I felt very insecure, and uncomfortable in my own skin, and was really looking for answers. So that led to just after I left university, I was just about to turn 22 and I accidentally joined a cult in Vancouver. It was 1989 I guess.
I should clarify and say that everybody joins a cult accidentally. Nobody does it deliberately. You join a group of people who have similar values or are fighting for a similar cause. Whatever it is, you have something in common and the group feels like a safe place initially. And in my situation, it certainly was the case; it was actually a meditation class.
It was being taught in downtown Vancouver by a woman who fancied herself a psychic medium. And when she was teaching these meditation classes, and my mom had been going for a while and I had just moved to Vancouver didn’t know a soul other than my family, so I went along with her.
How Cults Work
With cults, then what happens is it just gets kind of weirder and weirder. But at a very slow pace that when you’re on the inside of it, you don’t really notice. And that’s how they get jobs, as they say. So, you know, at the time, I think I think I believed the cult had a lot of answers to those questions that I had about my own confidence and insecure lack of confidence, and insecurity and the things that I felt were, quote, unquote, broken about me. And the cult was very much about being broken.
I can see that now looking back, that one of the ways that those of us who were in the cult were controlled, was an emphasis was placed on our brokenness, on our never measuring up, which is a classic element or strategy, I guess, I should say that cults use is that making, on the one hand, building people up, and then on the other hand, tearing them down. I definitely felt like there was so much wrong with me, and that the cult would provide the group would provide answers.
Meanwhile, the cult leader and and the other leaders in the group, had created an atmosphere when nobody was ever good enough. And there was this constant striving for acceptance, and to be good enough. And it felt like that those kinds of things were just around the corner, it was just out of reach. And if we just worked a little harder, did a little more, that would come to us. Of course, it never, ever did.
Leaving the Cult
So after about 10 years, through a set of circumstances, I left the group. And I’m very grateful that that happened to me, because there are some people who were involved who are still involved to this day, and that this is 20 something years later. So I’m very grateful that I got out when I did.
What that created was that when I left the cult, I was going through a process of recovery. And that took about I mean, it’s always ongoing, but I would say the main part of it was seven or eight years, almost a decade after I left. And it had ingrained in me, the cult had, this habit of needing to fix myself, a feeling of being broken, of feeling like I was never good enough. And I needed to improve and change. And there were all these things that I needed to fix.
What that created was just that habit of needing to fix myself and believing that I was broken. And in a minute, I’ll talk about how this inside-out understanding, also known as the 3 principles is so different from that. I was really trying to fix myself from the cult stuff, but also I realized, from the things that have happened during my upbringing, and one of my biggest issues, starting in my 20s was my unhealthy relationship with food.
Overeating and trying to fix that habit
I had developed an over eating habit. And I felt that if I could fix myself enough that that habit would go away. Until very recently, it didn’t end. All the things I did didn’t seem to make a dent in what I was trying to do, trying to fix that problem. Get rid of that habit. And the approaches that I took, were really healthy. I would put them in a healthy category. I never really subscribed to things like crash diets and really restrictive diets of marmalade and grapefruit for three meals a day or anything like that.
I did things like a lot of talk therapy, especially after coming out of the cult, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, mindfulness, EFT I think that stands for emotional freedom technique, that’s the tapping, one where you start tapping different parts of yourself, weightwatchers and something called the solution and hypnosis.
You get the idea. So alternative therapies. I can think the one thing I didn’t try was acupuncture. But maybe if I had gone a little longer, I would have done that for sure. And then, in about 2008, I had done enough cult recovery, that I felt like I was sort of moving on from that, not moving on from the trying to fix myself stuff, but moving on from the specific therapeutic work that I was doing around cult recovery. When you’re in a cult, it really ties your brain in some pretty serious knots. And I could talk about this for 9 or 10 hours. But what it does is it really changes the way you think, and really limits your choices, for one thing.
There was a lot of work to be done to kind of untangle all that stuff. And I liken it to, if you were taking a brick house apart, with myself being the brick house, pulled every brick out and examined each one and I had to decide is this something I believe in because I believe in it? Because it’s true for me? Or is it something I believe in, because I’ve been told that it’s true. And that’s very labor intensive work, and it took a long time.
But then finally, and about, as I say, 2008, I was feeling like I was coming to a good place with that. And I realized that I wanted to write a book about the experience. So while I was in cult recovery, the main part the the tricky, challenging, intense parts at the beginning, I was looking for books to read. And at the time, there were a lot of books available that were in the sociological, psychological, textbook kind of area, like they were written by psychologists and sociologists studying the phenomenon of cults. And they were fantastic, they were incredibly helpful for me, I really appreciated them. Additionally, what I really wanted to read was somebody’s personal story about how they got in to the cult, and then what the recovery process looked like for them. And I couldn’t find that memoir. Now, 20 some years later, there are lots of them. And I’m thrilled about that. But at the time, I just couldn’t find the type of book that I was looking for.
Writing an award-winning cult memoir
So in 2008, I started to write my own book. And it was published in 2009. And for those of you on YouTube, I’m holding up the cover, it’s called Cult, A Love Story. I was very pleased with how it turned out. And it won an award when it was published. So that was pretty gratifying.
Since then, I’ve heard, especially at the beginning, lots of people letting me know that it really helped them with their journey, exiting a cult and understanding what had happened to them. So that was great. And I really enjoyed that experience of writing that book.
I went on and focused my writing career on writing mystery novels at that point, and had a side hustle, doing various things, as a self employed person, virtual support for other people, and doing as much writing as I could. And, as I said, trying all kinds of healing modalities to heal my relationship with food and none of it working and my weight kept going up.
Discovering the Inside-Out Understanding
And then in 2017, a friend… well actually let’s back up. In 2015, a friend of mine, a very close friend, had started mentioning this fellow Michael Neill that she was following. And because of my cult experience, I wasn’t interested and so everything she said just went in one ear and out and out the other. I just wasn’t prepared to follow anybody in the sort of spiritual, psychological realm at all, I mean, I still kind of have a bit of a guru trigger. And so I unfortunately dismissed what she had to say.
I guess if she framed what she was learning from Michael, that it was the Inside Out understanding or the 3 principles, I didn’t hear that part. So then in 2017, we were chatting on the phone one day, and she said something, something that Michael had said, or some something from a class of his that she was attending. And finally, it really caught my attention. I thought to myself, Oh, that’s sounds really interesting. I wonder what that’s about. And unfortunately, I don’t remember what it was, she said.
When we finished the phone call, I went to my computer, and I went to Michael’s website. And he’s got this series of information pages called The Basics on his website. And I just went and looked today, and it’s still there. And it walks you through a very preliminary introduction to the Inside Out understanding or the three principles. I read through once, and didn’t really get it didn’t at all, didn’t really understand what the heck I was reading. It didn’t seem to make any sense. And it was unlike anything I’d ever read before.
So I went back, and I started at the beginning, again, read the whole thing all the way through again, was just as confused. But I was very intrigued. And as a self help junkie, at the time, I thought, Okay, well, I’ll try anything. So let me dig into this a little bit.
I read Michael’s book, The Inside-Out Revolution, and thus began my exploration of the Inside-Out understanding. And I’ve been following that… well, how should I say it; I’ve been deepening my understanding, deepening my learning about it ever since. I found that it really turned my understanding of myself and of life on its head, in a really good way.
I noticed that gradually, over time, I became much more peaceful, much more joyful, much more connected with the people in my life that I love. Much, much calmer. And started to notice that things like I had had this a sort of anxiety, urgency, a feeling of urgency. For decades, it was just always there. It was like a demon breathing on the back of my neck all the time, no matter what I was doing, I felt I should be going faster, and doing more and getting it done quicker. I noticed that started to slip away. But not as a result of me doing anything.
That was the really interesting and peculiar part. So I continued writing my mystery novels and focusing on that part of my career. And then in I would say, late 2021 or early 2022, I felt things starting to shift with me and I wasn’t sure what direction they were going or what was changing. I went through for those couple of years, really not having a clear direction.
I can look back at it now and see that, that people use the expression ‘caterpillar soup’. When a when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, it doesn’t just go into the cocoon, and turn into a butterfly, it basically melts down into goo, or soup. Looking back, that was happening to me.
Then in early 2022, I started to feel that things were starting to starting to shift. I didn’t still didn’t entirely know what was happening. But I knew enough. And I felt like it was the right thing to do to just trust whatever was happening, and to resist it as little as possible. So that’s what I did.
One of the biggest impacts that had happened to my life was my relationship with food. And early in 2022, I think it was, published a book called, It’s Not About the Food. The book is about the 3 Principles or the Inside Out understanding as it relates to habits and to my relationship with food. I really felt it was important to share what I was learning because there’s so much suffering that goes on with people, with their relationships, to food, and to other habits. It was definitely, definitely the greatest area of suffering in my life.
When I started to finally, finally be seeing some relief from that, because of this understanding, I just felt compelled to share it. Now, I have to say, I rushed the publication of that book. My gut was telling me not to go ahead and do it, and I did it anyway. And then I ended up unpublishing it, and this must be in 2021, actually, not 2022. And then, later, in late 2022, I was able to revise it, I took some things out that I didn’t feel I had articulated properly, and added some things in, the things that I had learned in the ensuing year.
That book is now available everywhere. And it’s in ebook, paperback, hardback, and audiobook and large print. So I’m very happy about that happy about how that turned out. And about finally being able to articulate what was going on with me, related to food and to this understanding.
How not to heal a habit
What I realized, once I had learned enough about this understanding was that in terms of my relationship with food, innocently, I was adding so much noise to what I was perceiving as a problem. So the problem I saw was that I had an overeating habit. And then with all those modalities that I mentioned earlier, those strategies and techniques, I was heaping more and more and more noise, and interference on to what it turned out wasn’t a problem at all. And, of course, I say innocently because we don’t know this until we see what the Inside Out understanding is pointing to.
We’re always always just doing the best we can with the tools that are available to us at the time. I did do my very best for those 30 plus years with all those other different kinds of tools. And now, in hindsight, I can see that. There was a lot of suffering involved, and I don’t I wouldn’t want to repeat that experience. Let’s say it that way. And at the same time, having gone through, and tried absolutely everything else to heal that relationship and utterly failing and falling on my face so many times, what then happened was that when I discovered the Inside-Out understanding and my over eating habits started to fall away. That was really good proof to me, personally, that I was on the right track, that this understanding was pointing to something very different.
And the more I explored it, the more change I began to see. And the more I realized that I was, and am and always am, and so are you, unbroken. Hence the name of this podcast. We are whole. We are always whole, even when our health maybe isn’t great. We have innate health. And when we see that and begin to understand it, insightfully, when we begin to see that we are whole and well, then then what happens is this need to medicate ourselves, falls away, because there’s no need for it.
I particularly thought that one of the things that I was doing was medicating myself with food, because I needed to soothe myself. Soothe myself because of the traumas that I’d experienced, growing up, and then also from the cult, and then all the other everyday, middling traumas that happen to any of us. What I began to see is that that became unnecessary, because I began to understand that our life is flowing through us, and it has a natural ability to calibrate itself and to bring us back into equilibrium. That happens automatically without any interference from us or with and without any of the tools and techniques that I was applying, that we’re adding this noise to, to the perceived problem of my over eating habit.
And I guess, that kind of brings us up to date. Once I had decided to republish It’s Not About the Food, I realized that I wanted to share this understanding in a in a wider way. And that’s why I’ve begun this podcast. And it’s why I’ve began coaching and mentoring people who want to let go of their over eating habit, and other habits as well. And so I just started working toward that.
You Are Unbroken
I’m so happy to be here now, releasing episode one of this podcast. I hope that you will join me on this journey if you’re suffering from some sort of habit. I plan to provide an interview every week. Every Thursday, there will be an interview with someone else who is exploring this understanding. And very often we’ll be talking about habits, but sometimes we won’t. Sometimes the person I’ll be speaking to maybe focuses on another area of life.
For example, I have an interview coming up with TanIa Elfersy, and she tends to focus on working with women about perimenopause and menopause symptoms. Now, that sounds like a very different situation from having an overeating habit. However, she’s pointing in exactly the same direction that I am. She’s looking toward wholeness.
When we begin to understand the universal nature of how being a human being works, it affects every area of our life. So everything from an overeating habit to perimenopause and menopause symptoms, to our relationship with our spouse or our friends, to our running our business or doing our job. It touches everything. And that has certainly been true for me, absolutely, as I’ve explored this. So that will be every Thursday.
And then on Mondays, I’ll be doing Q&A episodes. So if you’ve got a question about an overeating habit, or any other kind of habit or any anything else, you can email me. And I’ll answer those questions on a Monday Q&A episode.
The address for to submit the form to do that is AlexandraAmor.com/question. When you get there, you’ll see a little form and you can fill that out and send it in and I hope you do.
What I’m going to do today is in the shownotes, at unbrokenpodcast.com, you’ll find links to my books, and to anything else else I’ve mentioned during the show. And every week, that will be the same, you’ll be able to find all the episodes there.
If you’re watching this on YouTube, then I’ll put those down below in the little description box.
I think that’s it for me, that’s a little explanation of who I am, where I’ve come from, what I’ve been exploring and why it matters to me and the change that I’ve seen and therefore, why I want to share it with you.
Thank you for being with me here today. I really appreciate it. You can look forward to episode two, which is coming out on Thursday, February 16 2023. My guest is Christian McNeil, who has written a book on this very topic. The book is called Addiction: One Cause, One Solution. You can look for that soon.
Thanks so much for joining me. Take care and I will talk to you soon. Bye
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash
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