Want to know how to stop bulimia?
Great, I have an answer to that!
A lot of the women who contact me for coaching – or who just want some simple advice – for how to stop bulimia have three things in common.
- #1 – They’ve had bulimia for 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years and have tried a lot of things but haven’t overcome their eating disorder for good.
- #2 – They have a primal need for certainty. Said another way – they can at least control one thing in their life – food (or their body/weight).
- #3 – They have a limiting belief that it’s ok to binge and purge. The belief may be subconscious, but it has to be there otherwise they wouldn’t act out the way they are.
I’ve only been blogging about bulimia recovery for two years, but I can tell you the vast majority of women who contact me for coaching and support have had bulimia for more than 15 years. Ok, given I had bulimia for 20 years, maybe the women who contact me as long-time bulimics feel a connection with me. That could be the case.
Yet, I have a theory that there are waaaay more adult women on the planet who are living with this secret than anyone is reporting.
Some leading authorities say there are 7 – 9 million women in the United States who have bulimia. I suspect that’s underestimated and their data that says that 90% of the women with bulimia are adolescent or in college is missing a large category of women who are silently suffering.Those over the age of 30.
In any case, I’m writing this because I want you to know if you’ve had bulimia for a long time and have tried a treatments (therapy, treatment centers, support groups) and are still not finding lasting recovery, there is a reason. Read on to find out why you haven’t beat bulimia for good and what I hope will be eye-opening for you.
Primal Needs: Certainty and Connection
I attended a Tony Robbins conference called Unleash the Power Within last weekend (I highly recommend it!). During this conference Tony talked about the four primal needs people have.
Here’s what he says they are:
- Certainty – everyone wants stability about their basic necessities – food, shelter and other material resources. When people cannot control their physical circumstances, they may seek certainty through a state of mind.
- Uncertainty – People have a need to change their state, to exercise their body and emotions. Therefore they seek variety through a number of means (physical activity, moods, entertainment).
- Significance – Everybody needs to feel special and important in some way.
- Connection (Love) – Humans need to feel connected with someone or something – a person, an ideal, a value, a habit or a sense of identity.
As a recovered bulimic I sat in the audience and was struck with the two needs many bulimics have – certainty and connection. I never had anorexia, but if I had to guess I would say that eating disorder starts out in some ways based on the need for significance.
Looking back on my bulimia it didn’t start because of the needs for uncertainty or significance. It was all about a lack of control I felt in so many areas of my life (school, family, boys, peer pressure, etc) and the need for connection (because I didn’t feel love from my parents).
As a teenager, I choose bulimia as a way of fulfilling these two needs. It took me 20 long years of suffering to finally find other sources to meet these two primal needs.
Actually, I’d say I realized that bulimia was keeping me from having love and connection and I wasn’t willing to live without love in my life any longer. Enough damn it!
Can you look at where your bulimia comes from and what need bulimia is fulfilling for you? It can be more than one, but look at your life and answer this question for yourself.
Your Limiting Bulimia Beliefs
The other thing that really jumped out at me during the Tony Robbins’ conference was the idea of our limiting beliefs. Beliefs dictate every-thing in our life. Who we ARE is built upon who we see ourselves as and that’s based upon the beliefs we have.
My teacher Abraham-Hicks says, “a belief is just a thought you keep thinking.” When Tony said that you can change a limiting belief by interrupting the pattern (or habit) of thought in an instant I knew he was right.
That’s pretty much what I did back in 2005 when I stopped my suffering and decided I wanted lasting recovery.
Breaking a habit, or pattern of thought, can be hard if you’ve practiced it for a long time. It’s like trying to take on something new – like learning to play an instrument or new sport – it takes awhile before we get good at it. Practice makes permanent.
But breaking a pattern or habit absolutely can be done. I’m evidence of breaking the bulimia pattern from within. I know of lots of women who’ve broken their eating disorder habit, too.
What I want you to know is if you’re living through the hell of bulimia right now you have a limiting belief living inside your head. Jim Rohn says “no thought lives in your mind rent free.”
Your limiting belief can sound something like one of these:
“I’d rather have bulimia than feel all those horrible feelings.”
“I don’t want to get fat, but I can’t control myself around food.”
“It’s only one more time. I’ll stop tomorrow.”
“My eating disorder isn’t that bad.”
“Food is my escape and I can’t get fat.”
“If I’m skinny I’ll be happy.”
“Thin people are pretty (or respected, or loved…).”
These are just a few I came up with off the top of my head.
This next part is really important, so please listen carefully, ok?
If you’re reading this and you’re binging and purging daily or weekly, I want you to stop for a second.
No, more like 30 seconds right here.
Don’t read another word after this sentence until you answer this question…
What are your limiting beliefs that allows bulimia to be a part of your life? or What would you have to believe to be a bulimic?
I hope you stopped and thought about that for a few seconds. Even better if you wrote them down so you could be really conscious of what’s going on underneath the surface.
If you did, now you know where you are. Your baseline belief is in your conscious awareness and not running the show from your subconscious [alone]. There are probably a few other limiting beliefs lying beneath the surface, but I wanted you to at least get an idea how this works.
What Non-Bulimics Believe
I believe it’s important to find a strong role model if you want to change an area of your life. As a non-bulimic with 8 years of lasting recovery, I’d like to be one of your recovery models. I want to share some of my empowering beliefs with you here.
Try them on. They might sound like a lie to you at first. Remember what Abraham says “a belief is just a thought you keep thinking”. If you want to beat bulimia for good, try thinking new, empowering thoughts for a change.
What have you got to lose?
That’s right. And e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g to gain.
Here are some of my new, empowering beliefs:
If I treat my body well, I’ll feel good each day I’m alive.
I love myself.
I am worthy of being good to and treating well.
I am a non-bulimic.
I would never do anything awful to myself like purging.
To be with people and feel love I can’t keep secrets from them.
Having bulimia is a big secret and I value feeling (giving) love rather than keeping secrets.
If I want to be a role model for others (kids, friends, etc) I must live a life free from addictions.
Recovery feels better than any food tastes.
Looking like a super model is not as important as feeling loved and being myself.
I want love and connection and eating disorders keep me from love – loving myself, receiving the love of others, from feeling love from friends.
My lumps, bumps and belly are a part of me. People who love me don’t care and people who do don’t matter.
I enjoy feeling good feelings (excitement, love, happiness) and the bad feelings (anger, doubt, overwhelm) never last very long anyway.
I choose to be who I am, not what someone else thinks I should be.
These are just a few beliefs I thought would give you a start to re-training your brain to adopt a new belief.
I learned at Tony Robbins’ even that re-training our brain for empowering beliefs takes practice. That’s how I did it when I overcame bulimia. I said to myself all the time “I am a non-bulimic.” Even when it felt like a lie I said it. I said it like I meant it. I said it like my heart, my life, my soul depended upon it.
I hope this has been helpful to you! Now it’s your turn.
What limiting bulimia belief did you find is living in your head?
What one or two empowering new beliefs are you going to take on and practice?
I’d recommend saying them with heart-felt excitement or passion (like you freakin’ mean it!) each day at least 10 times a day. Hell, maybe 100 times if you’re in the depths and want change NOW! You can turn this around and retrain your brain and take on new beliefs.
It may sound like it’s too easy to be true. That’s ok. But remember where our thoughts go, so do we. You can turn this around and start believing a new empowering thought.
Give it a go and let me know how you’re doing!
p.s. Here’s a video from Tony Robbins on Choosing Your Focus and Creating a Success Ritual (aka conditioning your mind). Enjoy!