Pretty much everything you see around you (apart from the natural world, clouds, trees etc) began as an image (visual thought) in someone’s mind. The building you live in started as a picture in an architect’s head. He/she didn’t draw it wondering what it would look like, he/she saw it in their mind and then drew it. People don’t realise how powerfully they influence their future actions and feelings by their thoughts. Let me give you an example. Most people, if they need to set the alarm clock earlier than usual because they have to get up early to get a flight to go, for example, on holiday, are capable of waking up just before the alarm goes up, and they reach across to turn it off just before it rings. Now they didn’t have to do guided visualisations and chant mantras (‘I must wake up at 5am, I must wake up at 5am) to achieve this. They just had a thought like ‘I need to be up at 5am’. Yes, they will have spent a few moments imagining getting up at 5am and perhaps journeying to the airport etc, but the thinking is usually casual and not deliberate.
I always say to people, ‘if you can do this what else do you think you may be able to do? What if you spent a moment or two imagining waking up feeling wonderful’ It’s amazing that people are happy to accept their ability to program themselves to shift consciousness from the dead of sleep to being wide awake – often to the minute! – and yet aren’t sure they can use their imagination in other ways.
So, the thoughts that you have influence, and ‘programme’ your future behaviour.
Someone who does bulimia inadvertently (and, until they stop bulimia, inevitably) plans to do it. In other words they look into the future and think about doing it. Some will wake up and plan what they will binge upon, where they will do it and when and where they will throw up. Many wake up thinking ‘I hope today is a good day, I hope I don’t binge and throw up’. Some don’t really think about it until they begin eating and they reach the point where they say to themselves something like ‘oh well, I may as well keep eating, I can always throw up afterwards’. As they think this they will, obviously, be imagining throwing up afterwards.
The similarity between all of these variations is that they ALWAYS, at some point, imagine doing it before they do it. Whether they consciously plan to do it, whether they worry it will happen, whether they hope it won’t, in every case the act of binging and purging runs like a movie in their mind whether it’s a long movie, or just a quick thought.
This is the difference between someone who does bulimia and someone who doesn’t. The person who doesn’t do it doesn’t think about it in advance, the person who does bulimia always, at some point, thinks about it in advance. I call this planning
So, the challenge, therefore is this. How do you get someone not to think about bulimia, when you can’t ‘not think’ of it (don’t think of Brad Pitt etc)?
Even a woman can only think of a few things at once, consciously. And as you know, a man can only usually manage one thing at once in his head. On a good day.
So the brain makes patterns and automates anything – ANYTHING – you repeat enough times. Think about it. If you drive, then changing gear was really complicated at first, you really had to think about it. Then, after a while, it becomes automated and you learn to drive and change gear whilst thinking of something else. The same is true of everything you repeat, whether its doing a button up, typing your name…everything.
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