So many people have been a part of the constant struggle for physical health, particularly when it comes to weight. We try everything from pills & shakes to surgery and flushing intestinal washes that promises to slim us down, keep us full, burn more and flush out toxins. Yet we often find ourselves right back where we started and more depressed about it than ever.
We rack our brains and think for endless hours about what we did wrong and how much we suck at sticking to a program, any program. When you can’t see your mind’s own blind-spots, it’s like you’re playing a rigged game. You can try to figure it out all you want – but freedom is not achieved through thought. Ruminating the past pain, doubts, fears and struggles perpetuate the same states of being over and over again. It is a self fulfilling prophecy.
Let’s meet that part of the brain that is the ring master of this circus:
The Reticular Activating System.
It is all part of the Brain Stem which is located on the back base of your head. The functions of the reticular activating system are many and varied. It contributes to the control of sleep, walking, sex, eating, and elimination. Basically, it controls all our primary functions for life. Perhaps the most important function of the RAS is its control of consciousness; it is believed to control sleep, wakefulness, and the ability to consciously focus attention on something. In addition, the RAS acts as a filter, damping down the effect of repeated stimuli such as loud noises, helping to prevent the senses from being overloaded. The RAS is in the Brain Stem.
This part of the brain, which controls or basic life functions also controls consciousness and is part of our mental filter. You know what else is part of our base life functions? SURVIVAL! Yes this part of the brain controls activation of your “fight, flight, and freeze” responses. It wants to keep you safe. It considers your memories, feelings of pain, hurt, fear, and anxiety. It also likes things to stay exactly the way they are. Change is scary! The RAS wants safety and stability and hey its easier to deal with what we have always known instead of changing it right?
You get yourself pumped up and your logic mind is all over this fantastic new diet plan and exercise is looking good too. You get started and feel highly motivated to finally reach your goals. Then it happens again, about two weeks into the process you body starts with pains, messages of self-doubt and seemingly logical “reasons” to fall away and retreat from this new thing you are doing. That is your RAS system sabotaging the heck out of your success.
Creating change requires new habits. But how the heck can we get past this wall our RAS system sets up? Forcing a new habit through sheer logic is difficult to effect a lasting change in habit. So LOGICAL THOUGHT ALONE WILL NOT CREATE CHANGE.
We know what we need to do to loose weight. How to eat better, prepare food, what kind of exercise to do, but it just doesn’t seem to stick long enough to get results.
The key to the breaking down the barrier and making lasting change is EMOTION.
Yes FEELINGS are our key to unlocking those subconscious controls that hold us back.
Our body holding on to weight is not simply because we eat like crap or just don’t know how to loose weight. It is part of our subconscious emotion/feelings attached to memories and past hurts. As you get closer to changing a habit the RAS activates triggers, emotions, chemical responses that derail the process because it wants to SURVIVE by achieving flight, fight or freeze. You might sense this as a panic attack, chest pain anxiety, physical aches that keep you from being active or craving foods that keep the weight on.
“By being lighter, you are going to be more in tune with your body and your emotional states. If you are not prepared to deal with those emotions, chances are you are not going to allow the physical to lighten up. You don’t want to deal with it! So in those cases, you’ve got to go and look at what’s going on emotionally. And we are not talking about issues that are necessarily tied to food and diet. We are talking about everything across the board; in your relationships, in your perceptions of yourself and what you are doing in life. You can’t separate the two.” (Kenyon, Tom. Great Human Potential: Walking in one’s own light)
PUSH THOUGH THE ROAD BLOCK
There is power in knowing what is going on under the surface of the conscious Logic Brain. How can we push though that road block when we come face to face with it on our journey to create a new habit?
There are two choices when you realize this moment has arisen:
1. You can fall into thought – activate the logic brain which is being manipulated by your RAS activation of “Fight, Flight or Freeze” based on bad memories, pain, doubt & fear.
2. You can tune into the feelings, resolve them and point your focus on your goal.
The key here is FOCUS. Laser like focus. I am reminded of the story of a city being demolished and as the people ran away they were told not to look back at the destruction or they will turn to stone. If you look back into your past while trying to move forward, you fears and doubts will freeze you in place.
“When you fall into thought, you look at “what is” (or your “spellbound” interpretation of what is) and you think something like, “Aw, shit… this?”. Then you refer to memory and you look at all the things that that reminds you of – the things we have already associated unconsciously with what is in front of us. And we give a second, “Aw, shit… this reminds me of that!” With our focus on “what is” and “what was”, we are unconsciously aiming the “Focus of Creation Power” into the formation and creation of “more of the same”, and that’s why things keep repeating. Whenever we get triggered or begin to feel an unpleasant emotion around anything that’s going on, the general habit is to think “Aw, shit, “this” means “that”“. The minute that that happens, know that you’ve fallen into thought again.” (Ridgway, Brian D.. Break Your Self-Help Addiction: The 5 Keys to Total Personal Freedom)
HOW TO TUNE IN: ATTACH POSITIVE EMOTION
To effectively persuade your subconscious mind you do not go into your head and try to “figure out” the answers. Rather, you tune in and “feel into” the energies that arise in response to the question “How am I feeling?”
Diets often suggest keeping a food journal. I would see that and cringe. In the past, it had made me feel horrible about myself and I would just stop writing in it all together. Here is the kicker: YOU ARE NOT YOUR FOOD JOURNAL! It is pure data. Not good. Not Bad. Just data. Suspend judgement on yourself and they answers will present themselves. Don’t just write down what you ate. ALWAYS wright down how you felt before, during and after eating it. Same goes for eating so called “bad food”. Eat it, record it and wright how you feel.
THEN RIGHT HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL. Because that is the heart of the story isn’t it. You want to feel good, feel better, feel like you look better, feel, feel, feel.
If you have such an emotional attachment to those foods and you really want to have that pleasure but you continually deny yourself, the negative emotion that builds up is far more detrimental to your body and overall success of healthy habits than if you had had the cookie or ice cream and processed the toxins out. So you’ve got to find a balance there. Denying yourself, or simply the constant perception of denial, can do more damage than actually having the food.
Weight loss is not simply about weight. It is about what we have been through in our lives and the journey of trying to loose that weight means facing the past consciously so that it can be resolved. Look it in the face and say “you have no power over me”. You yourself can create change. The power is literally inside you.