I hear about a woman with a blog and a YouTube channel who started tracking her macronutrient intake (it’s okay, I had to google it too) and her binge eating habit went away. Four different clients in one week tell me they are now counting, analyzing and tracking every morsel of food that goes in their mouths because that cures binge eating.
Except it doesn’t. It’s not working for them the way it did for the YouTube star.
When I was sixteen years old, I went to the Landmark Forum. We called it “doing The Forum” back then. If you’re not familiar, the Landmark Forum is a 3-day, very intense personal development process.
I went home after spending 36 precious teenage weekend hours away from my friends feeling cheated and ripped off. I had gotten nothing and even worse, I had to listen to a bunch of “old people” who claimed that the weekend changed their lives.
I called my Forum leader after I returned home to complain. My mom (recently empowered by The Forum herself) encouraged me to be authentic and speak my truth.
The leader did some technique with me on the phone, having me chose one option over another…the details don’t matter. The technique made no sense to me but something shifted. I hung up the phone and fell into a 2-week period of the closest thing to heaven-on-earth I’ve ever experienced.
The bliss wore off. For years afterward, I attributed my brush with enlightenment to the technique. I repeated it to myself, meditated on it, contemplated it, tried it on my own clients. But it was just words. It did nothing.
People give advice about all kinds of things. I hear that I should write first thing in the morning.
But wait…I also hear that I should exercise first thing in the morning. Now what? And that we should drink only water with lemon first thing in the morning…but that it’s important to eat breakfast too. What to do?
Life can feel very complicated when we listen to well-meaning advice because we’re looking in the wrong place. We’re looking at the thing someone did or said or ate, not the insight they had.
Tracking or eating macros doesn’t end binge eating. Techniques don’t cause freedom or enlightenment. Writing in the morning is not for everyone.
People have insight; a raise in consciousness. They come to see things differently than they did before and when you literally see a different world around you, you’re naturally going to do things differently.
In our wonderfully human desires to understand how things work and help others, we go looking for what we think is the cause of our change.
But we’re wrong about the cause. We look to what we can see—the behavior that changed, the words that were shared. But those behaviors and words only facilitate insight for some people, some of the time.
It was never about—has never been about—doing the right steps. It’s about seeing things differently. (Watch this if you want a hilarious recap of the old statistics adage that is very relevant here, ‘correlation doesn’t infer causation’).
Steve Chandler’s poetic and profound new book Death Wish makes this point too. Any path can lead to freedom.
Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t–in and of itself–“create” freedom but it can absolutely be one path toward freedom. It can be a thing people do that helps; that perhaps facilitates or makes room for insight.
The insight is what matters. It’s the only thing that matters. Insight means a sight from within. What we did right before the insight didn’t cause it, as much as it might look like it did.
Nothing causes it, exactly. We’re graced with it. Blessed with it. And it happens all the time in what might feel like a big or little, instant or gradual, profound or commonplace ways.
There are two paths to insight coming up that I highly recommend. The Being Human Weekend Workshop is October 7-9 in Michigan and my Break Your Habit 10-Week course is coming back this year, beginning September 26th. I’d love to see you along one of those paths!