When you love to read as I do, you’re always coming across quotes which make an impression on you. Initially, I don’t always know exactly why a particular quote by a particular author inspires me; I only know that it changes my emotional state.
Over the years I’ve learned to respect this feeling and examine the quote more carefully because it’s possible to use just about any quote which changes your emotional state to help stop emotional overeating episodes.
In this short article I’d like to share a few which have been powerful in helping both my clients and myself to reverse that “screw it, just do it” feeling which most people experience just before they’re about to turn an upsetting emotional experience into a mini-food orgy:
- “A life of discipline is better than a life of regret” – Jim Rohn: When I first read this my heart skipped a beat. There was something very profound in it which resonated in my own personal experience. I had so very many deep regrets about the eating patterns I’d let get the better of me over the years, and I knew from other areas of life that when I added discipline my sense of freedom and accomplishment actually expanded. And sometimes even just the smallest discipline yielded a disproportionately large payoff. For example, walking for a minimum of five minutes every morning before breakfast made a tremendous difference in my mood, and encouraged me to eat healthier all day long.
- “You can have anything you want but you can’t have everything you want” – Peter McWilliams. I think this one is self-evident. I could have two donuts with breakfast if I wanted to every morning, but I couldn’t have the slim and trim body I desired simultaneously. Life is about choices, and with determination and focus you can achieve virtually anything, but by the very nature of focus itself, you can’t achieve everything.
- “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, only by lack of meaning and purpose” – Victor Frankl. Dr. Frankl was a psychiatrist who endured the concentration camps during World War Two. He observed a key difference between people who succumbed to the oppression and torture vs. those who made it through. The had a reason to live. They wanted to get back to their children or to carry the story so it would never happen again, etc. I discovered that when life feels unbearable without some type of food treat, it’s only because I have let myself become disconnected from meaning and purpose in my own life. I’ve also learned that with this piercing insight in hand if I sit with whatever thoughts and feelings I’m having long enough, I do indeed find my way back to my soul. In fact, the thought that I can’t, mustn’t, and shouldn’t ever allow feelings of boredom and/or emptiness seems to be fueled by the desire to binge itself. Boredom, emptiness, etc. are a natural part of the road to meaning, and they are much more short-lived than most people think.
- “The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost. A more poetic way to encapsulate the above.
- “It takes constant repetition to force alien concepts on reluctant minds” – Sigmund Freud. Listen, I don’t agree with everything the man said but this one was a good one. Establishing a new behavioral pattern with eating almost always requires constant repetition and intense, purposeful reinforcement for a period of time before it takes hold. For example, one client who stopped overeating at night always says “Dinner and done!” when dinner is over and repeats this whenever the urge to break arises. One of the coaches who works for me claps her hands three times as if she’s dusting them off and says “Kitchen’s closed” in the same situation. Most clients who’ve stopped nighttime overeating also have fairly clear and consciously articulated decompression routines they engage in before bed. Constantly. Repetitively. Persistently.
- “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill. How many times do overeaters need to get up and try again before they succeed in creating a new behavior? This also brings to mind the quote “A winner is just a loser who tried one more time!” (Unknown author)
OK, those are just a few quotes to get you started. What quotes inspire you, and how can you use them to stop emotional overeating?