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The Less Obvious Problem With Obsession

June 19, 2009

By Lori Hanson

What do you think of when you hear the word obsession? Perfume, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), a stalker, a golden retriever that wants to play ball all the time? For people with eating disorders their lives and thoughts are a chronic cycle of obsession.

I know only too well from personal experience. From the moment they wake in the morning until their head hits the pillow at night their internal dialogue is all about food and the body. First thing in the morning are thoughts of what clothes might fit, what body will be staring back at them in the mirror today and who they have to meet that will certainly notice their weight gain or the imperfection of their body. Each meal brings stress with a lack of control, or too much. Depending on their “performance” and how perfect they are there is an additional chain of thoughts ready to berate them for eating too much and screwing up.

As the day wears on there may be many temptations and a continued fight to stay on the straight and narrow. As evening calls resolve leaves and they fall prey to the food that has taunted them all day. By bedtime, the goals that were present that morning are long gone and they hit the pillow with huge regrets, chastising themselves for screwing up yet again and trying to figure out how to get the weight off and make their body acceptable. When they wake the next morning, the remorse and cycle start all over again.

As I’ve shared many times before, with an eating disorder you live in a bubble. People with eating disorders can’t even connect with real life because it’s outside of the bubble they have created for themselves. The bubble is filled with obsession of food, body image, low self-esteem and hatred for themselves. This creates a cycle that is incredibly difficult to break. One reason this is true is because of the basic law of attraction. What a person focuses on and feels with intense emotion is what they attract into their life. For instance, if you spend all of your time focused on how much you hate your body and spend hours everyday filling your mind with these thoughts…guess what? It contributes to the unhappiness in your existence. If a significant amount of your time is focused on “fixing” something about yourself, and you want it real bad, that intensity holds it steady in your world.

In order to change a habit or stop an obsession – stop focusing on it! This is essential to helping individuals make the shift. Instead they need to identify why they want to look a certain way, or reach a specific goal weight. What will it bring them in life? If it’s freedom, peace and acceptance, they need to spend time focused on what it feels like to have it. They can write a journal about a day feeling accepted, peaceful, happy and joyful. Describing it without referring to their eating disorder and without judgements. What is the day like? How does it feel like? How do people treat them ? How do they treat other people? What are they doing that day that they would never do now? What makes them smile?

This practice can be applied to much more than eating disorders. It is powerful. It may seem simplistic, but it’s a small step that will make a huge shift in learning to let go of obsession or changing unhealthy habits.

Learn how you can get started now, read the award-winning book, It Started With Pop-Tarts…An Alternative Approach to Winning the Battle of Bulimia. It’s a brutally honest story of low self-esteem, obsession and the path to freedom, peace and learning to ride the waves of life.

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