One of the draws of binge eating is that it is extremely private. I know a few people who binge in public, most of them are male and, to be honest, though they eat a lot and do technically “binge,” I don’t even consider it to be in the same category as binge eating.
Something is only a problem if we identify it as a problem. And much of the problem with binge eating from a psychological, emotional, and spiritual standpoint is the shame around it. If we are going to work with binge eating, we have to look at the shame.
Here is the thing: most EVERYONE has behaviors that they do in private, that they would otherwise not do, in public.
Animals have none of this, as far as I know. They aren’t really ever guaranteed privacy, and so they do things in front of everyone. Things that would be taboo for a human. And yet, it isn’t that humans don’t do equally taboo things. We just don’t do them in public.
That’s why humans who have less shame and inhibition draw our attention. We are fascinated by them. It isn’t because their behaviors are alien to us – it’s exactly because we recognize ourselves in them, that we’re attracted to the display.
Humans who show their kinky, colorful natures and wear them on their sleeves are attractive to us. And if we judge them, it’s because there is a part of us that is still ashamed – that’s still judging the part of ourselves that has the same desires.
When you get to know another human really well, I mean really well, you’ll inevitably find some private behaviors in the mix.
Maybe they love porn, or a certain kind of kinky porn, or watching movies on their laptop in the shower, or dancing naked (one of my favorites), or eating all their kids’ snacks while dancing naked.
As you can see, eating a lot of food, even if it is A LOT of food, in private, sort of pales in comparison to some of these other behaviors.
These behaviors are pressure release valves, they are totally natural, as far as I can gauge from my personal research.
It’s the shame around them that turns them into something unhealthy. Something that can haunt us or obsess us. Otherwise, they are just a normal part of life.
Left alone, they eventually refine themselves. We don’t want to use them as a crutch forever, just as we wouldn’t want to stay in a diaper forever. And to the extent that it takes a little effort to transform them – a little self-discipline or willpower, as I have been writing about lately – it’s good, because working towards something is one major key to happiness.
But we would never want to get rid of our pressure release valves while we still need them, and before we have replaced them with something else just as effective, but perhaps more refined. By the way, when I say “refined” I don’t mean some snootty better-than-everyone-else thing. I mean, more sophisticated as it relates to who you are. In other words, an expression of yourself that feels more aligned and close to who you really are, and less like a substitute or replacement.
Tip: Trust your crutches, and trust that they will refine over time.
Being human is a lot more complicated than we can imagine. It’s easy to think that if you just meditate enough or do enough yoga, you will transcend your senses and live in contentment without ever leaving the lotus position.
And I have tried that, in my own way. I’ve tried to meditate through so many impulses, to transform them into positive creativity and productivity that I can be proud of.
And I am very happy that I’ve done this work. I am still doing this work, every day. And I have a long way to go.
But looking back, I see that the only thing I would suck out of the picture, if I could, is the shame. Everything else is perfect, including the massive quantities of peanut butter, ice cream, and dried pineapple I have consumed throughout my life.
I was where I was at. I am not quite there anymore, though that beast still lives inside me.
That hunger still lives inside me, and it has become more refined.
Now I can love myself that much, to bless the many many pints of ice cream that have passed my lips, and know that they are just as much a part of me as my yoga practice.
Being human is all of it.
Being whole is all of it.
Doing the internal work is number 1, and it means looking at the things we don’t want to look at. Once we do enough of that, and we are ready to change certain patterns in our lives, the tools to make external changes will come. They always do.
In the meantime, enjoy the journey, and don’t skip any of the good parts.