After my New Year’s confession, I took some time away from blogging and interviewing and the mechanics of the project, and I got focused on myself. I realized that when I first started “The Fat Hypnotist” project my heart was in the right place, but my implementation was all wrong.
I initially approached the project as a way to find a solution to a problem. Sensible, right? But in doing this, I focused too much on the problem, and my efforts were driven by an intellectual, analytical approach. That would be great if obesity was an intellectual problem, a simple matter of learning about calories and nutrition and exercise options, but obesity, for most people, is an emotional problem, and I wasn’t diving deeper into my emotions. Using my brain wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be; it was time to connect, through my heart, to this life challenge.
I spent a lot of hours reflecting on my life, and thinking about all the different factors that could have contributed to my difficulties with food and weight. More importantly, I spent a lot of time thinking about the emotional themes that came up over and over again. What kept coming up weren’t actually emotional themes, but behavioral themes.
The first theme is that of comfort. I consume a lot of things in order to comfort myself. Food and drink are the primary things that provide comfort for me. But the reality is that they don’t really comfort me; they just give me pleasure, and the pleasure never lasts, so I have to keep consuming and consuming in order to keep the pleasure going, but it never lasts. It’s a terrible model.
The second theme is avoidance. When I get stressed, or disappointed, or have any kind of mental state that makes me feel unworthy, I find activities to do that allow me to focus my attention on something else entirely. Netflix, social media, video games, and other such distractions allow me to withdraw from my real world experience and dissociate from myself into another world, another story, another experience. But those experiences are always transient; they can’t last forever. And when they do end, not only am I faced with the same unresolved feelings and thoughts that I had before I engaged in the avoidance activity, but I now also have the new negative feelings that I just spent a lot of time being unproductive, not doing things of greater value, like building my business, or keeping my home in good shape, or exercising.
Both themes involve consumption. In one, I consume physical matter, in the other, I consume mental material. In both cases, I’m firing off neurotransmitters in my brain that make me feel good temporarily, but that will not last forever and eventually put me right back where I was, feeling lousy again. This is a pattern that I’ve been in for over twenty years.
It’s just not working.
The consumer-based world we live in is one which consistently sends the message that if we have the right things, we will be happy. If you have a good job, and a good home, and the right clothes, and a cool mobile phone, and, and, and… then you’ll be happy. And it just isn’t true. While there are many things that can bring me pleasure, there is nothing outside of myself that can make me happy. This means that if I wish to be truly happy and healthy, I must reject the model of living that I have worked within for my entire adult life. And that is sort of terrifying to think about doing.
Human beings love certainty. We have a deep desire to know that our lives work in a certain way, and that we can continue to count on them working that way, and having that certainty makes us feel safe. For all these years, I’ve been prioritizing the certainty that I got from consuming the things I consumed over the other things I wanted to have and experience in my life. I’ve done it for so long, that the repercussions of my behavior now threaten that very certainty. I don’t have certain health anymore. I don’t trust my body like I used to in terms of physical activities. I’m not able to maintain the energy it takes to be productive at a high level, day after day. It’s imperative, at this point in my life, that I discard my old life model and develop a new one.
I am not saying that I’m going to give up all of my personal belongings and go live like a monk, and I’m not saying that’s what you have to do, either. I don’t think it’s an issue of having stuff or not having stuff. It’s an issue of what belief system you’re actively participating in, whether you realize it consciously or not.
My new life model must be one in which I am completely devoted to the belief that happiness will only come from within myself. Happiness is a product of how I think and behave. So whereas before I was thinking and behaving in relation to my understanding of things outside of me (job, relationships, belongings) I must now focus completely on things inside of me (thoughts and feelings). So the main shift is moving away from choices to consume things that will make me feel better and instead CREATE thoughts, feelings, and experiences that will bring me joy.
Creator instead of consumer.