Thursday, July 19, 2007

Inside Secret Eating & What Works

"The willingness to see takes a spoonful of courage & is the first step out of procrastination. Like other things in life, it's not as difficult as it seems. Take my hand & I'll pull you forward".... Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht

It takes quite a bit of energy to harbor a secret & especially for secret eaters. Through the years I've been invited into many secret rooms & have been able to explore the exquiste details & often original creativity of the secret's many facets. As a writer & nurse practitioner, these experiences have been invaluable for they allow me to work with a special set of keys. These keys allow me to know the questions to ask, either directly or indirectly & of course, whether we are questioning ourselves or others, everything is about asking the right questions.


Most individuals, including myself, want everything yesterday & the idea of taking time to wake-up is usually not popular. Unfortunately, this is the reason why it is so difficult to overcome issues such as these. Secret behaviors cannot be addressed while they are still locked in the basement & yes, it does take courage to be willing to open the door. That is why I often open the door for the reader/listener & then, gently show them that while there may be a mess, it isn't as terrible as they thought.

Metaphors or working images help enormously. The subconscious mind works backwards & so the images are about what is desired, "as if" they were already present. Just as the power of the "secret" was in the details, so is the power of the new imagery.

When I met up with Emma & her secret, she was middle of the night-bingeing on ice cream. Ice cream bingers have additional creative issues because if they live with other people, it's next to impossible to hide ice cream in the freezer. Because Emma binged at night, she was able to replace the ice cream the next day. Of course, she had already memorized the "original level" of the old container. That meant either eating down to the old level or putting that part down the sink. Each facet of her secret was involved with very specific emotions & each emotion had a need for it's existence.

The first image that Emma entered was a walk around the hours that were involved in the binge-behavior, only these hours were binge-free. She needed, not only to see what she truly wanted, but she also needed to mind & body visit all of the details. Mind & body visiting means hearing her thoughts & feeling the body sensations of being balanced & practicing healthy behaviors. This can be accomplished in many different ways.

I invited Emma to be the writer, producer & director of this segment of her life. In order for her to get the true feelings inside the healthy actorEMMA, she went on stage & entered the individual playing her part in the drama. This also gave her the opportunity to lighten any emotion she still felt was too intense & then, she stepped out & observed the scene continuing. This is called future-pacing & is an invaluable tool, both for writing, as well as in the therapeutic environment.

Emma was now ready to go back to the "old scene" & to invite the actorEMMA, along with the presenting emotions to come to the classroom for a Q&A. In the beginning, Emma needed some help with formulating her questions. Part of her was actually frightened of the size of some of the emotions, but as she came to understand that she was the mature-adult & truly in charge, she was able to build a new kind of relationship with these parts of herself. This was not about blame, guilt or shame. It was about a need to understand, to provide what was & may still be needed by those parts of her & to bring a higher level of health to her mind & body. Here are some questions Emma asked to the emotions involved in the old night bingeing...

Why do you do this?
What do you need?
How can I help you?
What needs to change?
What would you miss if we stopped this?
What would you gain if we stopped this?
What should we throw away?
What should we keep?

Usually the answers are quite child-like & that is because the emotions are truly a child-part of ourselves. Emma came to learn that her emotions needed much more release time. She tended to be a workaholic & rarely took a break, just to relax. She spent her day moving from one activity to another, while never feeling the sense of true accomplishment. Her emtions wanted this to stop. They wanted to be thanked & admired for what they had done & they wanted this to come directly from Emma.

They wanted to eat whatever she wanted out in the open. Most were tired of having to spend so much time running the binge. They simply wanted OUT. How great it would be to be free of all of this. Emma was a grown woman & if she wanted to eat ice cream every day, this was her choice. It was her responsibility as a mature-adult to decide how to run her nutrition & to manage her choices. If someone criticized her, she simply didn't have to defend her choice. She is the writer, director & producer of her life. This is true freedom.

Of course, everything we do has consequences & so Emma's work involves having a look & a the details of the consequences. This is where she will gather her motivators & as she does so, she will be alone & not with her emotional side-kicks.

We motivate on both negatives & positives. Emma needed to feel the negative consequences of over-eating ice cream. She came to experience what it felt like to be obese, as well as to truly have diabetes & heart disease. What does it mean to be locked into a killer disease? What does it feel like to wake up in the morning & to have your choices curtailed by a stroke? What emotions hang out in your day? What has she given up here? What about the other chronic diseases that have been fired off by these choices, such as arthritis or chronic fatigue? How has this impacted her creativity & productivity? What about relationships? How does she feel about herself in this living environment? All good questions.

Positive motivation is usually not as powerful, but can be enhanced by the choice of "feeling" words, either written or spoken. Feeling her clothes fitting comfortably or having everything in her closet one size! Liking herself without anyone else having to say anything. Feeling proud & balanced. Relaxed & creative. Reversing the aging process. Being in control. Sensing her true power.


Emma has much work to in relation to managing thoughts & emotions, not only concerning her ice cream binge, but in all areas of her life. Noticing & questioning thoughts & emotions will take her closer to her authenic self & keep her out of developing habits & behaviors that take her in the direction of illness, both physical & emotional.


Some other areas for Emma to enter will include...

Reviewing food & beverage intake in relation to her family & personal medical history.

Learning a relaxation response skill such as mental biofeedbck.

Learning to take the time for her mind & body to repair.

Enjoying working with problem behaviors & thoughts processes including mistaken beliefs & habitual thinking patterns.
Desensitizing her emotions.

Examing her coping strategies, removing what doesn't work & building new ones.

NEXT BLOG - Emma & others work to understand & reduce stress.