Each of us experiences life through our own set of filters. Incoming information gets passed through this filter on the way in and we process the information using internal filters. Then what comes back out as we interact with the world passes through another filter. These filters are a combination of our experiences, what we believe about ourselves and the world, and any external "rules" we have been given over the course of our lives.
A friend of mine gave me a paperweight a few years ago and it struck me profoundly the moment I saw it:
One interpretation is that I am this paperweight. Everything I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell passes through the big glass filter which represents my core beliefs and values which don't change very often. For example, I am a Christian, so I process incoming information in a way that is consistent with that set of beliefs. I believe that, for the most part, it is better to try to find love in situations than to focus on the negative, so when information passes through it might get cleaned up a bit, letting the nicer parts I want in and discarding the parts that won't let me live out my core values.
Then there are a ton of other filters, or more accurately, distortions, that information passes through. These were created as I went through life. The day I picked up a cigarette, a new distorted filter popped up that said "Smoking is fun, smoking is good, you need to smoke." Even though other information (accurate information) came in like "Smoking can make you sick, smoking can kill you", it passed through my distortions of addiction and got watered down. "Smoking can kill you" became "Who cares, everyone has to die of something one day anyway" or "So what, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow." That persistent cough from smoking became "I must be getting a cold" etc.
All information coming in and going out related to smoking passed through a frighteningly distorted filter and the inner junkie in me was in control. I truly did not/could not see how distorted my thinking was until I became frightened about my health, put down the nicotine, and then worked for many months to correct the thought process and remove that distorted junkie filter. I know it's still there laying dormant, but I work hard to make sure all information related to smoking passes in and out in a clear, undistorted format.
Now I need to look at the distortions surrounding food, eating, weight, self image, sexuality, self worth, femininity, security, and love. They are all tied together and wrapped into my core beliefs about how I fit in the world. Some of it may be painful. Some of it will be uncomfortable. Some of it is scary. Heck, I've held onto some of these beliefs since childhood (food is comfort is an example), so to shatter the filters is going to leave me kind of exposed and vulnerable - operating without a safety net so to speak.
It's not going to happen overnight. I'm not going to get this all sorted out in a week. And some may never get sorted out, and that's okay! But what I do know, for a fact, is that the only hope I have to get to the other side and tackle all these distortions is to stop using food as a mind and heart numbing drug and just feel the feelings that come out and let them happen.
So starting January 1st, that is my first, big, number one priority. Step away from the "food as a drug" and follow a healthy eating plan, period. Food is fuel. I need a certain amount of veggies, fruit, dairy, protein, complex carbs and essential oils in order for my body to thrive. I am going to focus on that and leave the emotional stuff to the side for a while. Whenever a distorted thought tries to squeeze through (like "you are lonely, ice cream will keep you company") I will push it away and stick to the plan.
The simpler I make it, the higher the chance of success. My job is to eat healthy. The emotions may swirl around, the distorted thoughts will try to get me back to the "same old, same old" and I will get rid of each and every unhelpful thought as it pops up. No matter what, I will not use food as anything besides fuel.
I believe if I do that long enough to really believe that "food is only fuel" I can start to tackle all the distortions one at a time as they pop up. I'm pretty sure it will be like a whack-a-mole game. One by one the issues around food will pop up and i'll whack 'em and tackle 'em and move on to the next!
And by December 31, 2011, I want those distortions gone so I can see what the world really looks like, and how the world really sees me. How cool will that be?