In today’s post I’m going to be discussing how Internal conflict can really Iess with your best intentions about sticking to your healthy food plan, whatever that looks like.
In case you missed the first post in my series about my first year on Bright Line Eating, you can catch it here. Thank you to all of you who left comments. You warmed my heart with your condolences, your words of understanding and your deep connection over our shared experiences. It’s comments like yours that keep a blogger blogging.
Now onto the second most important lesson that I learned in my first year on Bright Line Eating.
Okay, I lied. I didn’t first learn about lesson Number 2 in Bright Line Eating.
Nonetheless, it was my experience in Bright Line Eating Boot Camp that brought me back to a fascinating idea I picked up from my husband Randy. He learned it when he studied the esoteric writings of an Armenian mystic named Gurdjieff, a long, long time ago.
But it was only in BLE that this philosophical/psychological and actually scientific phenomenon came into play in my long recovery with food. That idea is this:
There is not one person living inside of me.
Bear with me.
I’m not talking about schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder.
I’m referring to the many different personalities that exist within any person at the same time, often causing deep and painful internal emotional conflict.
Depending on what school of thought you come from, this is either caused by the two hemispheres of our brain (the right brain and the left brain) having really distinct types of thoughts. This results in our having two main and distinct personalities: the one who cares about what is best for us in the future and the one that wants what feels good right now. Thank you Michael Blackstone and his free webinar for explaining the fascinating science behind this that came as bonus material in the Bright Line Eating Boot Camp.
Or, if you are familiar and schooled in Internal Family Systems (aka Parts Work), you might understand that there are lots and lots of different personalities within each one of us. If this is new to you and you are interested in more information about IFS, go here for the Wikipedia page on it. It’s far less scientific than Michael Blackstone’s approach, but in the end, the conclusion of both is that we are not one unified personality . . . AND I LOVE THAT! (LOL, thanks Kyle Cease!)
Either way you slice it, the result for me was the same when it came to sticking to any prescribed healthy food plan: intense, annoying, often debilitating Internal Conflict.
Here’s what I’d like to share about Internal Conflict:
- many of us struggle with having conflicting thoughts/feelings/urges that seem to randomly show up throughout the day
- you are NOT alone, this condition is very common
- there is help available so that you can understand yourself on a much deeper level
- the work that you do towards understanding all parts of yourself is well worth it when it comes to food because until you understand what you have going on with this war in your head, and until you begin to attend to the needs of ALL of the parts of yourself (whether it’s two or twenty-two), it may be very difficult for someone to achieve a decent amount of recovery or any peace at all.
Here’s how internal conflict shows up in my life:
I wake up in the morning feeling really peaceful and excited about my Bright Line Eating day. Sticking to the plan is too easy! I love to follow the rules. I want to be in my right sized body a.s.a.p.!
That’s the right brain talking. The right brain thinks about what is good for me in the future. I call that personality Wendy. Usually we are all well rested and our physical needs are met, so Wendy is in control.
As the day goes by, and my willpower becomes depleted (this happens to everyone, it’s not just you), my mind starts to play some serious tricks on me. I start having thoughts that are not real, but seem really-real. My brain (actually, now my left hemisphere) starts to say things to me like “I feel like having fun! Going out to one of my favorite restaurants sounds like fun. I deserve this. I don’t have the energy to do BLE right now. Who cares what I eat as long as there’s no sugar, no flour and no animals in it. To hell with my quantities!” (Here she comes. I call her Willa now. She loves to be a rule breaker and cut loose, especially when her emotional or physical needs aren’t being met.)
Turns out when you ignore the different parts of yourself, they don’t go away. They keep showing up. And showing up. And that’s when you start to think you are crazy, tell yourself that you are a miserable failure at whatever food plan you are on, and start to beat the heck out of yourself.
You might think that you have an evil saboteur living inside of you that tries to punish you or hurt you. Personally, that always sounded like a bunch of b.s. to me.
But once you educate yourself about some brain science, you have another option. You can get to know these parts of yourself and get them talking to each other.
It turns out that at the end of the day, they both want what is best for you.
Here’s a non-food related way that this type of thing can show up in someone’s life. It’s an example from my own life, but I’m sure many of you can relate.
When I worked full time outside of my home, I longed to be a stay-at-home mom. I wondered if I was seriously nuts. I loved my job. I knew I didn’t even like being at home all day and I appreciated contributing to my family’s financial stability. My work allowed me to develop all of my best qualities into a profession, but somehow the pull was always there to be at home for my children, and frankly because I craved the peace that simply being at home brings me. I think we all know that work is stressful, that’s why you get paid. If it were summer camp, you’d have to pay to be there.
But now that I’m home full time, I’m continuously cooking up new ideas for how to use my skills to make a difference in the world, and to make some money (which generally comes with some amount of stress and pressure). Even though I know working this takes a lot of time and mental energy away from my family, I’m like a moth to a flame. I literally cannot stop myself from “working.”
What is wrong with me?
There are simply many different and distinct parts of myself and none of them allow me to neglect them for very long before we are all, Wendy and Willa, feeling pretty sad.
The reason I bring this up today is not to teach you how to heal the different parts of yourself. That’s best left up to the experts. You can contact Michael Blackstone (see below) or find an IFS therapist.
I mention it because this is a series on the effects that Bright Line Eating has had on my life this past year.
The knowledge that I have gained and understanding of the different parts of myself and what to do with them has been transformational for me. Not just because I can forgive myself much quicker for eating off my plan, but because I actually understand where it comes from and why I don’t do it to hurt myself. There’s actually a part of me that is in pain when I do it, and until I acknowledged that this part of me needed my love, understanding and attention, I had no hope of true recovery. I’m very grateful that I was able to discover this in Bright Line Eating.
In my new favorite book, The Little Book of Big Change by Amy Johnson, PhD, she explains it like this:
Your Habit is a Misunderstanding
Acting out destructive habits is not self-sabotage. You may intellectually know that your habit is harmful, and you may be thoroughly confused as to why it appears to have a hold on you. One thing I can tell you is that you are not doing it to sabotage yourself.
What often looks like self-sabotage is a misguided attempt at self-love. It’s you doing the best you can in the moment to feel better, driven by love for yourself and a deep desire for wellness.
You’re not doing it because you have low self-esteem or an “addictive personality.” You’re simply caught up in some habitual thinking that doesn’t feel like fleeting thought. It feels much bigger and seems to suggest something about you as a person. It does not.
Now not everyone struggles with Internal Conflict that gets in the way of them living their best life. But I’d venture to guess that if you are here reading this blog and you haven’t found a happy place with food, there’s a pretty good chance you suffer from significant Internal Conflict.
Thank you for showing me the way Michael Blackstone. I love you very, very much my friend. (If you’d like to get on the mailing list of this genius, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Blackstone does a ton free coaching calls and his webinar, The 2 a.m Syndrome is available free on YouTube for a limited time.)
If you’d like to hear more about the science behind Bright Line Eating, you first have to take this free quiz here.
After you take the quiz, you’ll be directed to a video where Susan Pierce Thompson explains what your score means for your Food Freedom. In the next week or two, she has two additional videos to share with you. Together, these three videos are the Food Freedom series. It’s ALL FREE and it all starts with the Susceptibility Quiz. YOU CAN TAKE THAT QUIZ HERE.
Bright Line Eating is having the last of it’s big boot camps where thousands of people go through the program at the same time (broken down into much smaller, more intimate Facebook groups for unparalleled support). There’s going to be lots and lots of amazing excitement and good vibes around this last large boot camp launce, so if you’ve been on the fence around experimenting with BLE and a boot camp, there’s no better time than now to give it a try.
After this, anyone can do a BLE boot camp at any time and they don’t have to wait for a big launch, but you don’t get that same feeling of excitement.
If you’ve got any questions about what BLE boot camp is like, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments section.
Catch you soon with the third most important thing I learned during my first year in BLE: SIMPLY RESUME!
This post contains affiliate links.