It’s been said that behaviours often start for one reason and then continue out of habit or without thought. For example, someone may experience something very traumatic like the death of a loved one and begin using medication to sleep. Years, even decades later, they are still taking a substance when what might need to happen is to address the pain, deal with the feelings. Overeating is one of the easiest ways of numbing ourselves from what we don’t want to feel. Unconscious eating creates a vicious cycle of self-abuse that is remarkably sensitive to the power of staying. You can’t do both.
What is really intriguing is that for so many people I’m guessing that what they are pushing back from is nowhere near as painful as they imagine. We can indeed handle much more than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. It can be so liberating to discover that what we have been terrified of feeling actually loses it’s intensity when we slow down and let it be. AND what I’ve noticed is that the inherent guilt and shame that follows a withdrawal response is more damaging than the original pain.
While it would seem logical that people would want to eliminate their obsessive or numbing actions, when confronted with the reality of what it takes, some folks back down. In that moment when you find yourself … switching to a computer card game, scouring facebook for updates, mindlessly eating from a candy dish, reaching for an alcoholic drink or getting lost in the fantasy of winning the lottery … it’s time to stop. Often, we have been so conditioned (by ourselves) in our response that we are “in it” before we know it. When we challenge that by stopping ourselves – checking in on what we are feeling and staying with it – it can feel “rough”, except when it doesn’t and we are amazed at how easy it is to shift.
Staying with what is keeps us in the present moment, keeps us here – now; keeps us awake, conscious. There is freedom, joy and peace in letting ourselves feel what we are feeling – all the way through.