Dear Dr. Simon,
Recently I’ve been reading a great deal of your work, and it has helped to start a healing process in my life, which hopefully continues. However, there is just so much to get through that it seems impossible. My outer world seems quite normal – I am an elementary school teacher and do well at my job. However, my inner world is a mess. Since I was 15 (I am now 30), I have struggled with depression, and a feeling of complete worthlessness. This has led to a severe eating disorder, which is damaging my body. It has been the cause of failed relationships; since I never feel that I have anything to offer anyone, I usually push the people I love and care about out of my life out of fear of being a disappointment to them. My life is dominated by obsessive/compulsive behaviors ranging from exercising far too much to cleaning things several times a day. The list goes on . . .
I’m guessing there is no easy way out of this. I’m worried that my self-destructive behaviors are so engrained in me now that I can never break them.
I’m just wondering if you have any tips for breaking this cycle, for getting free from this burden, for putting an end to the pain.
Answer: When we sense that our world is out of control, we may attempt to create some sense of order by controlling what we put in our mouth. Even as infants being spoon fed by our parents or caregivers, the only control we could exert was to close our mouth and shake our head in refusal. It’s not surprising then that many people manage stress by overeating or rigidly controlling what they put in their mouths. But as you have experienced firsthand, the short-term relief this coping mechanism provides is far outweighed by the long-term damage it inflicts on your physical and emotional health.
The way out of this cycle must occur on two levels:
1) Consciously go through an emotional detoxification process to release the misunderstandings and residue of pain that set your eating disorder into motion. I would encourage you to consider attending the Free to Love workshop at the Center as a way to start this process.
2) Develop the ability to generate an internal state of happiness that is independent of the people, situations, things, and circumstances around you. Meditation is one of the most powerful practices for cultivating this inner state of calm. I would suggest learning Primordial Sound Meditation and consider going to the Seduction of Spirit meditation retreat so that you can directly experience the unconditional bliss emerging from the deepest level of your being. Then, you will find that your controlling tendencies will be naturally replaced by an authentic sense of acceptance, surrender, and trust.