Introspection is the practice of examining your own thoughts and emotions. It can quite literally be as simple as stopping at any given moment and noticing what you’re thinking and feeling. To turn this practice into a useful tool, though, I’ve found that you need to take it a step further, and ask some questions. Let me give you an example.
Binge eating: my big problem
I am a chronic stress-eater. There’s been a lot of stress lately for me and my family, ergo, I’ve been prone to overeating and binging. Chocolate, carb-heavy foods (think rice, pasta, bread), even delicious, creamy yoghurt… When I’m stressed I find that I just can’t seem to stop myself. Later I have serious regrets while staring at my pooch in the mirror, but that just makes me more stressed, leading to more eating!
A moment of introspection
I was in the very act of devouring a large plate of linguine pasta when I happened to contemplate the issue of my overeating. It lead to me wondering why I do this. I took a moment to observe how I felt at that moment: I felt happy! The food was making me feel happy! But… why? Besides the general deliciousness of the food, what was making me feel so elated to be eating it in such a large quantity?
The answer to this question surprised me a little, and made me feel a bit guilty. This tiny little voice from deep within my psyche (just try it, you’ll get what I mean!) called out, “food is my one good thing in life.” WHAT?! Really?? I never considered myself one of those people who use food as a treat but it seems that all this time I have in fact been putting it up on a pedestal as the one thing in life that can make me happy! And that’s just not something I believe; after all, I have a wonderful husband, two beautiful children, this big old family that may be dysfunctional but is also the best — and so much more!
I have gotten into the habit of dwelling on all my problems in life and feeling bad because of them that I’d come to believe – subconsciously, and without realising – that my only joy in life comes from eating food I love. If I want to stop binge-eating, I need to do some things to address these fundamental beliefs.
- Adjust my attitude. Instead of being negative all the time and always listing my problems, I need to take time throughout the day to be grateful, to focus on the good in my life, to let myself enjoy those good things!
- Self-care needs to become a priority. Instead of using food as a way to feel good, I can substitute other activities such as exercising, getting out in the fresh air, spending some time pursuing hobbies and interests, reading, or even watching a favourite telly show or movie.
Until you become aware of why you do what you do, you’ll struggle to make any real changes. As much as I would tell myself that I didn’t want to overeat because of the consequences when I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t override that powerful urge because I didn’t know what was causing it. Now I see that I have a legitimate need to feel enjoyment and happiness in life, and I can take control of fulfilling that in healthier ways. And since making that realisation, I have been dealing much better with my overeating.
Have you used introspection to identify and address problems? Has this post been helpful, or is there something you would add? Comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!