Awesome Dudette asks: “Would you explain eating disorders such as bulimia from an energy perspective please? Psychology has said it’s about control, yet I’ve never felt more out of control and desperately want to stop. I’m hoping LOA can break it down in such a way that will uncover the root belief for release.”
Dear Awesome Dudette,
Well, I see the causes of bulimia a little differently. In fact, this is very much the same kind of energy that leads to any kind of compulsive behavior, so this answer should be relevant for a lot of situations. Let’s get into it shall we?
Behavior is a manifestation
First and foremost we have to remember that behavior and action are just manifestations. The words you speak, your reactions to others, the impulses you have to do certain things, are all reflections of your vibration. This is why trying to change your behavior with willpower generally doesn’t work long term. If the underlying energy hasn’t changed, it must manifest again. Someone who quits smoking without shifting the root cause for that addiction, for example, will either fall of the wagon, so to speak, or develop some other kind of coping mechanism, like overeating.
So, if you’re exhibiting any kind of unwanted behavior, there’s always an underlying cause. The more severe and destructive the behavior, the bigger the resistance that is causing it.
There is not one belief that causes bulimia. Our beliefs always manifest perfectly for each of us, so our manifestations will vary greatly. One person who feels unworthy, for example, may manifest abusive relationships, while another person with the same beliefs becomes obese, or an obsessive gambler, or bulimic. And two people who are bulimic will not necessarily have the same core beliefs that caused their behavior. The specifics of each person’s manifestations have to be dissected on an individual basis. So, there’s a definite limit to how far down the rabbit hole I can take you in a blog post, but I’ll do the best I can.
How does it feel?
Whenever you’re trying to shift any kind of belief, the first thing to ask yourself is: “How does this unwanted manifestation make me feel? What emotions are coming up?” This question may be harder to answer than many people think. They’ll often give a superficial or very general answer, like “Well, how do you think it feels?!” (deflecting because it’s too uncomfortable to deal with it) or “Not good, that’s for sure.” (yeah, well, duh). But you have to dig deeper. Let’s examine the behavior of a person with bulimia (and I am going to have to really generalize here):
You get the overwhelming urge to eat. You eat and eat and keep stuffing as much food into your body as you possibly can. It’s a kind of urgent, manic, panicked feeling. And, as you mentioned, you feel totally powerless and out of control. You’re trying to fill some kind of void, trying to provide something that’s missing, fill up the hole so the pain and agony stop. The food also makes you feel strangely safe. You don’t want it to, but it does. There’s a sense of comfort in it, which could possibly be seen as a sort of sense of control. It’s not all bad. There’s this overwhelming urge, this need, this fear and pain and drive to stop it, and then a breaking point at which you succumb to the urge and you eat. And in that feeding frenzy, there is relief.
When the frenzy is over, the realization of what has occurred fully sets in and with it, comes the judgment and the self-loathing. The “afflicted” then tries to get rid of the food (purging) or compensate for it in some way (hours and hours of strenuous exercise). The pain of this kind of behavior is often seen as a welcome penance for the shameful gorging that’s just occurred. It’s a “well-deserved” punishment, and therefore can also bring a kind of relief with it even amongst great amounts of discomfort.
The focus on food
While bulimia is not caused by a focus on food, it’s generally accompanied by desperate attempts to control food consumption. Each bite is dangerous and can be seen as a kind of “failure”. Trying to cure bulimia by controlling one’s eating habits doesn’t work. But most bulimics still try. They don’t know what else do to. This focus on food can make the whole situation worse. Not only is there the underlying cause of the obsessive behavior itself, but the constant negative focus on food and eating can create even more pressure. It’s a bit of a self-perpetuating cycle.
Digging up the root cause
Whenever you have this kind of explosive, desperate behavior, it means that there’s a massive imbalance. Something has gotten so out of whack and has been ignored for so long, that it’s become like a pressure cooker with the lid on, left unattended on a hot stove. Eventually, something’s going to explode. A bulimic feels this pressure and when it becomes too much to bear, they gorge, which is a behavior that provides relief. The purging is generally an extension of the original cause, as well as a reaction to judgment about the gorging itself. Someone who drinks excessively, takes drugs, gambles compulsively and even those with OCD would fall into the same category. The underlying beliefs causing this kind of pressure are, generally speaking, usually about the self. In other words, bulimics have some kind of belief about themselves that really, REALLY isn’t serving them.
As we’ve already established, while the gorging does provide relief, it also feels intensely powerless and herein lies the first clue. If you’re a bulimic, you have a belief that makes you feel powerless. It’s a belief that something bad can happen to you and you have no control over it. This is where you’ll want to start.
Sit with this feeling of powerlessness for a bit. Remember the last time you gave into the binging. Think of how it felt just before, that panicky feeling, that lack of safety. Don’t spend long here, 2-3 minutes will do. You just want to activate the frequency of the emotion. Now, allow any memories that feel like that to come to the surface. Just sit quietly for a few minutes and allow any memory that wants to surface to do so. At least one always will and it will always be related, even if it doesn’t seem to be at first glance. Go through the events of the memory. It’s come up for a reason – there’s valuable information contained within it. What was it that made you feel powerless in that event? Was it a person? An experience? What decision did you make about yourself that felt like you had no control? What were you afraid of? Take your time with this exercise. You may even remember more than one incident. Look for the unifying pattern. It can help tremendously to write down whatever comes up. It’s often easier to see patterns more clearly when you see them in black and white.
This past event may not have been the cause of your belief, but it will match the frequency of your current vibration. Essentially, at its core, this belief of powerlessness is a fear of danger. You’ve decided, at some point in your life (or your parents decided and taught you this fear), that there was some kind of danger, and that this horrible thing can happen to you at any time, without warning. This will be something that isn’t rational and you therefore keep yourself in the presence of the trigger. If you didn’t, there would be no reaction. Something in your current life is triggering you. Not only that, but you’ve decided that even though you don’t feel that you can stand up to or control this danger, you should be able to, which causes you to blame yourself whenever you react to whatever the trigger is.
A response to danger
Bulimia is essentially a manifestation of the fight or flight mechanism. Your body doesn’t understand that something that’s deeply uncomfortable isn’t necessarily life threatening. It only understands pain and pleasure, danger and safety. If you keep yourself in the presence of something that you, at some level, have decided is dangerous (or deeply unwanted/painful/uncomfortable), you will have the urge to fight or flee. If you don’t, you will seek relief in some other way. And no amount of willpower will be enough to stop your fight of flight mechanism from engaging. I think you’ve probably realized that by now.
The memory exercise may well give you an insight into what your trigger is, which will allow you to begin dismantling it. If, for example, you figure out that you were always afraid of your father’s temper as a child, and that the way you felt when he got angry matches how you feel when you have the urge to binge, you could do some exercises that could help you feel safer. You could learn to understand and detach from anger. You could learn to stand up for yourself, and protect yourself, so even if someone got angry in your presence, you wouldn’t have to be powerless against them. By the way, in this scenario, you wouldn’t necessarily need anyone to be angry to be triggered. The mere fear of anger could be enough to cause a reaction. So, wanting to ask for a raise and envisioning the off the wall response of your boss could cause a binge.
Sometimes, the cause of the fear will not be as obvious though. You may have been living with a constant state of fear and insecurity for so long, that specific incidents no longer stand out, or you can no longer recognize them. In that case, a very general approach designed to help you step into your own power can be very helpful:
Stepping into your power
Below are some very general tips of things you can do to help you feel better on all levels. This will be good advice no matter what specific belief is at the bottom of your bulimia (or other type of obsessive response). If you raise your vibration overall, not only will you feel better already, but he specific discomfort of your limiting belief will become more apparent. You’ll begin to see things you couldn’t before. This is not an instant fix, it’s a process, so be patient with yourself.
- Meditate as often as possible (preferably daily). 15-20 minutes a day will quickly but gently begin to raise your vibration and will support any other work you do.
- Practice self-love: Watch my video on how to love yourself and follow the advice religiously. Bulimia is often caused by and always causes self-judgment and feelings of unworthiness. Being consistently kind to yourself will shift that. This will not be at all comfortable at first so be gentle and patient, but keep at it.
- Use the affirmation: “I am enough.” Sit with this thought. Ponder it. Meditate on it. Do your best to feel it (let that come over time, though, it won’t be instantaneous.) The process of binging is often an attempt to provide something that’s seen as “missing”, and the root of such beliefs is always that you, at your core, are not enough. Contradicting that belief is a great way to bring it up more specifically and will already start the process of shifting it.
- Make peace with food. Bulimia isn’t about food. It uses food as a way to gain relief, but the underlying cause has nothing to do with food. It’s not the food’s fault and it’s not that you have no control over what or how much you eat. When you sit down to eat, take a moment to appreciate the food you’re about to eat. Tell yourself “The food I eat nourishes me”, “Food is good for my body”, and “With every bite I eat, I get healthier and healthier.” Do your best to notice the beauty of fresh fruits and vegetables, their colors, their fragrance, their taste. Begin the process of focusing on food in a positive way.
- Learn to set boundaries. This will help you to feel more empowered, and will begin to shift the core reason for the bulimic behavior. Read the following posts:
- Quiet Strength – How To Stand Up For Yourself Without Being A Bitch
- Grow A Pair! Overcoming Your Fear of Confrontation
- Setting Boundaries – My House Rules
- Surround yourself with positive people. Seek them out. Join a group of people who are supportive (not necessarily a support group. Do not spend time with people who are focused on the problem!) Seek out people who have fun, who smile easily, and who see the best in you. If there’s anyone like that in your life, spend more time with them. If not, seek out people like that. The comment section of this site is a good place to start (because you people are freaking awesome!).
- Talk to someone. A part of bulimia is a deep sense of shame and bulimics often try their best to hide their disease. There’s a strong sense of “I’m not ok.” Talking to a non-judgmental person who listens to your truth while being in your corner, and having the courage to express yourself authentically, can be incredibly cathartic and healing. The most important thing here is that you choose someone who will not focus on your powerlessness and will not see you as broken and in need to be fixed, but will rather cheer you on for being strong and amazing and worthy and powerful and strong. Choose someone who is able to listen without trying to make everything better (because your pain is causing them discomfort). This will almost certainly be a professional of some kind, someone who has the ability to detach from the suffering of others (a therapist, coach or even clergy). Use your intuition. If you’ve given someone a try and they don’t meet this criteria, do not be afraid to leave and choose again. Keep trying until you find the person who is right for you.
Bulimia isn’t a symptom that shows up out of the blue. It’s not a “first” manifestation. There’s been a lot of focus on a belief that isn’t serving you, the kinds of beliefs that cause this behavior generally feel really big and scary. Start gently and slowly and give yourself plenty of time. Recovery takes as long as it takes. If you manage to have a good day, or even a good hour (or a good 10 minutes), give yourself credit for that. You’ll fall off the horse a few times, that’s pretty much a given. And that’s ok. Keep going. You’re making really big changes and some of them will be very stressful. If you push too hard, you’ll feel too much fear and that’s not only unproductive, but totally unnecessary. Be kind to yourself. Be gentle. That will actually make your “recovery” faster.
And remember: You are not broken. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’ve simply unknowingly been holding on to a perspective about yourself and the world that Who You Really Are doesn’t agree with. You’re supposed to feel better, and your pain and binging have been telling you that. Your behavior is a way to feel better. If you focus on feeling better in more constructive ways, your destructive behavior will cease. That manifestation will gravitate right out of your experience. You don’t have to force it. You don’t have to stop it. Just soothe it and your body and mind will respond. You can do this. Your manifestation is perfect for you, which means that you CAN overcome it. If you couldn’t, it wouldn’t be the perfect manifestation.
And when you have doubts, and you will (we all do), come here and read. Read the posts in the archives and read the comments. Connect with the community. Focus on the fact that there are so many people here who are striving to feel good. They all have their own struggles, but they’re succeeding in their own way. Each day gets a little better, until one day, you look up and realize you’re happy and that you’ve been happy for a while now. It’s like you’ve forgotten to be unhappy. Yeah… it really is like that. 🙂