There’s something that I’ve been thinking about over the past few months, and it keeps coming up in conversation and in weird ways in my life.
It’s about the power of words, and how we manifest the things in our life with the words we use or the thoughts we think.
I can’t think of any more powerful example of this phenomenon than in the following two sentences:
“If it’s in your house, it’s in your mouth.”
“That’s not my food.”
For a while, I was in a food addiction program where the expression, “If it’s in your house, it’s in your mouth” was hammered into the participants. Folks were advised that if they lived with a spouse who insisted on keeping addictive food substances (salty, fatty, sugary food) around after they were asked not to, that they should divorce them over it because clearly the spouse doesn’t give a hoot about them.
I say this not to shock you or to criticize the program, only to illustrate my point. The intentions of the leadership of the group are good. They are coming from a good place, trying to help and not to hurt anyone, of course.
The leaders were very serious in drilling into us the idea that if you saw food that was not on your plan, that you would have no defenses against it and that eventually, maybe not today, but someday, that food would land in your mouth and then you will have blown your program. So it was imperative and worth any cost to make sure that your home was free of trigger foods.
On the one hand, the statement is likely to be true for food addicts. It certainly does make our “sobriety” all the more challenging to have addictive food substances in our homes and in our faces. And to be totally fair, for the most extreme food addicts in the program, they really, really needed to hear this message, take this seriously and get their trigger foods out of their house because they had no hope of recovery otherwise.
But I started to wonder if this idea, “If it’s in your house, it’s in your mouth,” wouldn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy for other, possibly less susceptible, participants. I wondered if thinking this way would actually cause the opposite of it’s intended effect, eventually. And from the conversations I had with some of the participants, I think it did.
Recently, through my journey in Bright Line Eating I was reminded of the phrase, “That’s not my food.” NMF (not my food) and NMD (not my drink) are popular ways for food addicts to communicate with each other about potentially triggering foods for others in their group. These acronyms are used in both of the food addiction programs that I’ve been in recently.
The more I thought about adopting “That’s NOT my food” or “That’s not MY food” as one of my mantras, the more powerful I felt I had the potential of becoming.
When I spoke about the idea of “That’s not my food” during a recent Facebook Live presentation that I did for The Engine 2 Seven-day Challenge group, it garnered incredible interest and support.
Instead of being scared of being at parties and restaurants, I could continue my active social life with an empowered mindset, one that serves me and my life vision in the long run, not one that keeps me socially isolated and at war with my loved ones.
For those of you familiar with DBT (Dialectical behavior therapy), you might be aware of the concept of holding two conflicting truths in your mind at the same time. Both statements or ideas are true, but they can still conflict with each other. I believe that is the case here with these two statements.
So yes, if the trigger foods are in my environment, I am more likely to eat them. But at the same time, maybe I could train myself to be less likely to eat them if I envision a hard line of “That’s not my food” and I don’t try to sterilize my environment. What if I use the opportunities I have when I am in contact with NMF to strengthen my resistance muscle?
It reminds of the word Antifragile.
I don’t know much about this word, other than that it exists. I know that there is an author who writes about it and I imagine that his thing is guiding people in becoming antifragile. Just the word has me feeling incredible hopeful.
I want to become antifragile, the exact opposite of fragile.
Maybe exposure to the stressor (my trigger foods) while maintaining my stance of not eating them, can actually lead to better outcomes than my feeling like I need to totally avoid the sight and smell of those foods for fear that I will binge on them?
In the words of one of the reviewers on Amazon, Taleb’s book is a “rallying cry for people to stop drinking the cool-aid of economic and social quick fixes, attempts to overly-isolate people from the natural vicissitudes of life as well as from the consequences of their own actions. We learn and grow from the stressors of life (up to a point), and this is how we become ‘antifragile’.”
I’m not saying that we should all go out and start watching The Food Network compulsively again or looking at food porn on Pinterest in order to make ourselves antifragile, just that maybe building up a strong resistance muscle to all of the NMF might actually be a more effective response to our problem than creating fear and anxiety around “not my food.”
On a old coaching call that I listened to in the Bright Line Eating program I heard Susan express the following idea. I’m not quoting her, simply sharing what I took away from her observation.
None of this is about being perfect. It’s about what you do after you’ve gone off track that sets apart the strong from the weak. If you have a solid plan of action for how you are going to learn from your mistakes, and you actually follow that plan, that’s what determines whether or not you have long term success. If you are perfect for an extended period of time and you have no idea of how to learn from and move on from a mistake other than to throw your hands up and decide that if you can’t be perfect, you might as well binge, well, that’s a recipe for failure.
So I don’t need to be so terrified of screwing up, if the end result can be that I learn from it and that it has the potential to strengthen my program in the long run. I can take the risk of being around NMF for the potential tradeoff of becoming antifragile
In BLE, I was provided with a road map of what to do if I eat off of my plan, and I’m not stupid. When it happens, I can simply get it out and use it!
It’s my 2017 Word of the Year.
There is real power in our words, so we must choose them very wisely.
I think it’s time for me to get myself a copy of Taleb’s book.
Have you read it?