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The causes of bulimia used to baffle me...
I had never been abused, raped or neglected. I had grown up with a loving family and I had great friends... yet somehow, somewhere along the line, bulimia had consumed my life.
My bulimia was so severe that I was sure there must be a deep, dark cause for it lurking somewhere. At times I even wondered if I'd been raped, but had blanked it from my memory. Surely something traumatic must have happened to me for such a powerful obsession with food, throwing up and staying thin to rule my life?
I didn't believe that a normal girl with no 'baggage' could eat a box of cereal, 2 king-size chocolate bars, a liter of chocolate milk and a pack of biscuits - all in one frantic blurred sitting - for no reason.
It was 12 years after my first binge and purge, that I began my recovery journey. It was in this journey that I first began to understand the true causes of bulimia.
And in the 7 years since I recovered, that understanding has grown deeper and more certain.
Since working as a Bulimia Recovery Coach, I can now see with almost crystal clarity the causes of bulimia and how to reverse it... For anybody.
Before you begin reading this, I want you to commit to reading to the end of the article. What I am going to explain might sound overly simple, but give it a chance and it may transform your life.
I believe that the 3 causes of bulimia are almost always...
In this article I am going to talk mainly about #1 - a lack of self kindness. But first of all, I'll touch quickly on all 3 causes of bulimia and how they link into one another.
That feeling of "I need to change myself" or "I am not enough" or "I need to be better than I am"...
Now there are many reasons you may have these feelings... Perhaps you were abused, bullied, raped or mistreated? Sometimes a lack of self kindness does come from traumatic experiences in life, such as these...
Often however, a lack of self kindness is simply a byproduct of growing up in a society where being unkind to ourselves is sadly acceptable - even considered normal.
Where your lack of self kindness came from does not matter so much in your recovery. What matters is that you acknowledge it's there and that it does not serve you in any way.
A lack of self kindness in itself doesn't develop bulimia, many people live out their lives being unkind to themselves, which is not fun - but they never develop bulimia..
But put a lack of self kindness and dieting together and you have a recipe for disaster.
Fad dieting is one of the craziest concepts ever trailed by our human race... How is something as absurd as purposefully pushing your body into a famine ever supposed to be successful?
Whether you believe that we were created by God, or we have evolved through evolution - one this is certain...
When we diet - we are in effect tricking our our body and subconscious mind into believing there is a famine...
Our bodies do not understand dieting... they do not understand that there is a KFC at every corner... Our bodies believe we are under huge threat. Our bodies believe they need to fight back... And so they do...
They send us powerful binge urges, so that we are on the lookout for any availability of food...
And as almost every dieter eventually does... You cave in. You eat. Your binge.
And then, that lack of self kindness comes into play again and instead of blaming the act of dieting, you blame yourself.
Your push yourself harder and you diet with even more force...
And with even more force - the binge urges come back again. You binge.
And then that lack of self kindness yells at you loudly "You will get fat!" and before you know it, you are trying to reverse the 'damage' of the binge by taking laxatives, over exercising or vomiting.
Thankfully the survival mechanism that tells us to binge can be quietened down... By slowly but surely working on eating (and holding down) regular meals and snacks, your body will trust the famine has passed. In time, this will help the binge urges to subside. I talk about this further on stop binge eating.
As you repeat the self-cruelty-dieting-binge-purge cycle over and over again, something is happening deep within your mind...
You are wiring it as a neural pathway habit - a series of connections within your mind that enable you to repeat this cycle with ease.
As far as your mind is aware, if this cycle is being repeated frequently - it must be important... and so the neural pathways are formed to make it easier to repeat this cycle again in the future...
As with any habit, with practice it becomes second nature.
But just as habits develop, they can be broken. Through lack of use and by developing new healthier habits, you can rewire almost any unhealthy habit.
So as you can see from what I have shared above, lack of self kindness is what triggers the events that lead to bulimia.
And lack of self kindness not only leads to the development of bulimia, but it also helps to maintain bulimia...
I know that every unsuccessful bulimia recovery attempt I made was interwoven with cruelty. My final and successful recovery attempt was different - woven into it was love, kindness and forgiveness.
Above anything else, self kindness is the key ingredient that will allow you to recover from bulimia...
Self kindness is the seed from which recovery can grow.
I am making my way through (again) one of my favorite books Love Yourself by Lawrence Crane. I recently read a passage that I wanted to share, which leads onto a message which is at the very CORE of your bulimia recovery.
"The more you love, the more you can practice love. The more you develop your capacity to love, the more you come in touch with the harmony of the universe, the more delightful your life becomes, the more bountiful, the more everything. It starts a cycle where you spin upwards. If you want to be loved, the way to do it is to love. It's not only the best way to do it but it's the only way of receiving love, to give love, because what we give out must come back.
Being loving is easy, because right now you are all loving. You don't see it because it's smothered over by wrong attitudes, non loving attitudes, I don't like him, I don't like her, I don't like them, I don't like that group of people, I don't like that kind of people, I don't like people from that county, from that city, I don't like people from that part of town. Those attitudes are all in the direction away from love, they cover over the natural, all-loving being that you are. With all those non-loving attitudes you are moving away from the loving being that you really are.
When you're non-loving, non-loving experiences come back to you and you have more and more things not to love. When you're non-loving you have to be on guard. You have to protect yourself. If you're not loving the world, you're always protecting yourself form the world, causing more and more negative thoughts which put you on extreme defensiveness as it builds up subconsciously year after year. Then, you have a mass of negative thoughts protecting yourself from the world.
The opposite happens when you love the world. When you love the world, the world can't hurt you, your thoughts get quiet, your mind gets peaceful and then the infinite self is right there and you experience tremendous joy.
You have taken your infinite beingness, your infinite joy, and you covered it over with thoughts, thoughts of limitation. These negative thoughts smother the infinite self that you are, They smother your capacity to enjoy. All you need to do is quiet those thoughts and what's left over is the innate, glorious being that you are, absolutely perfect and can never change.
How this relates to your bulimia recovery…
This passage talks about love being smothered over by wrong attitudes. Lawrence talks about wrong attitudes towards others - but it is also relevant in wrong attitudes towards yourself...
And I'm talking of…
All of these thoughts, these attitudes, these cruel words…They are non-loving. I have experienced it in my own life (and I know you would have too) that non-loving attitudes NEVER bring anything positive into our existence. Non-loving attitudes do nothing positive for anybody...
…And of course, non loving attitudes most definitely don't help you recover from bulimia. Non loving attitudes towards yourself (The same thing as a lack of kindness) are the most significant causes of bulimia. They only hurt you.
I say it so often, because I believe it to be true from the bottom of my heart…
ONLY love can heal.
Love helped me to heal - and beautiful soul, love will help you to heal too.
Love is the answer to your bulimia recovery.
Acknowledge that beneath all of your non-loving attitudes, is self love. Love that is always there for you. Love that is beautiful, glorious and abundant. If you're not sure that it's there, then please take my word for it. It is. We are born completely loving, and that beautiful loving being is still there.
Make a commitment to yourself… A commitment that you will work on developing loving attitudes towards yourself and the world. This doesn't mean you'll do it perfectly from now on - but it's a commitment to working on it, slowly but surely. LOVE is the way forward, towards freedom from bulimia - towards a joyful life. Make a commitment to working on self love.
3) Awareness, Letting go and Replacing
Be aware of any cruel self talk or negative and unkind voices that enter your mind. When you hear them, acknowledge them and let them go, remind yourself that only love can heal. Remind yourself that love is always the solution - to everything. Let go of non-loving thoughts, remind yourself they do not serve you anymore, and replace them with words of loving kindness.
Loving kindness is the solution.
Start today :)
Start by saying "I love you".
Right now. Right here.
And then allow this love to enable you to take another step. Get help in your bulimia recovery. Get love and support...
This may mean seeking treatment or joining my Online Bulimia Recovery Program and Community (based on the principals I've talked about on this page), it may mean finding an eating disorders specialist nearby or it may mean asking for help from somebody you love...
There are lots of wonderful 'next steps' that you can take to move forward in journey recovery journey :)
Just take one of them.
Lots of love,
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community