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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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More from Geneen Roth: on how our eating habits reflect our true beliefs about ourselves

Chapter 7 of Roth's Women Food and God begins to deal with the practical application of her approach. She begins by outlining how the way we eat reveals what we truly believe about ourselves here on earth.
In the moment that you reach for potato chips to avoid what you feel, you are effectively saying, "I have no choice but to numb myself. Some things can't be felt, understood or worked through." You are saying, "There is no possibility of change so I might as well eat." You are saying, "Goodness exists for everyone but me so I might as well eat." You are saying, "I am fundamentally flawed so I might as well eat." Or, "Food is the only true pleasure in life so I might as well eat."
She goes on to describe how many of us are so deeply caught up in the stories of trauma and hurt from our childhood or our past that we're essentially unable to live cogently in the present moment. I've expressed that insight like this: Perhaps at one time we used food as a necessary coping strategy to deal with truly negative events that were occurring in real-time, but even though those events are no longer at play in our lives today, we haven't shed those eating habits or those mind-numbing coping mechanisms.
Most of us are so enthralled with the scary tigers in our minds -- our stories of loneliness, rejection, grief -- that we don't realize they are in the past. They can't hurt us anymore. When we realize that the stories we are haunted by are simply that -- stories -- we can be with what we actually feel directly, now, in our bodies. Tingling, pulsing, pressure, weightiness, heaviness, big black ball of concrete in the chest. And by being in immediate contact with what we feel, we see the link between feelings and what is beyond them. We see that we are so much more than any particular feeling, that, for example, when sadness is explored it may turn into a lush meadow of peace. Or that when we allow ourselves to feel the full heat of anger without expressing it, a mountain of strength and courage is revealed.

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wraithinwings August 15th, 2010
This idea you're discussing really has played a role in my emotional development.
Our culture so plasters our media with pictures of perfect, bleached teeth, toned n' tanned 'happiness' that it's as if we as a collective have made pain taboo.
Somehow, I think our nation has made it bad to feel bad- unless, of course, you'd like to take part in emo culture in which one makes a dramatization of pain.
It is in the painful moments that we connect to the rest of humanity. It is not a fundamental flaw, but a fundamental element of our selves. As per usual, disordered behavior ends up being so much deeper than itself, eh? ;)

iamom August 15th, 2010
Thank you for this comment! You've hit several nails square on their heads with these words. Just last night my wife and I were discussing this book in detail with another friend of ours with eating issues, and we all had a bit of an aha moment about that obstruction we all seem to have with feeling painful emotions, and then how we use food to dull or avoid those emotions over and over and over again...

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