Willingness to be Willing
Whenever I hear someone say that they are struggling with being abstinent, I tell them to pray for the willingness to be willing. I’m not saying that they must exert more willpower. I am saying that they must exert more “let go.”
There is a big difference between attempting to have more control over the addiction versus relaxing and being open to the willingness to not continue to hurt oneself with harmful substances and eating behaviors. The person must be willing to stop fighting.
They must stop fighting the addiction—the cravings that keep the addict in a relationship with the substance. For us food addicts, it’s the sugar, artificial sweeteners, flour, wheat, caffeine, hard cheese, high-sugar fruits, munchy-crunchy foods, bingeing, starving, and restricting that keep us in the cycle of addictive behaviors.
As I’ve discussed in my book The Big Book of Food Addiction and Beyond and in previous blog posts, the brain is “driving the bus.” As long as we keep participating with all these triggers, we will be passengers on the vicious cycle of addiction.
It’s when we make a decision to step out of the cycle and resist the powerful “pull” back to the substances that willingness takes over.
“I’m willing to not pick up any of these substances even though my body and my head want me to.”
“I’m willing to experience the cravings and withdrawal symptoms of headache, tiredness, stomach grumbling, longing, etc.”
“I’m willing to start following the Realization Center Food Plan for True Recovery, which will allow me to be free of the cravings, normalize/stabilize my blood sugar levels, and live in my potential.”
I often tell the story of one of the clients in my Monday night group. She was clean from her years of heroin use, and her life was on an upswing from her descent to a dark life on the streets, but she struggled with putting down the food. Because she was also attending my education series, The Key to True Recovery, she realized and acknowledged that her long-standing eating/purging issues predated and underlaid her drug use.
Every Monday, when starting the group, I would ask her how she was. She would sadly reply that she was still purging. I always told her to pray for the willingness to be willing. This went on for many months.
Then one Monday, when I asked her how she was, she replied, “I have five days!”
Wow! Her face showed such pride, relief, and cautious optimism, and I was thrilled for her. As a result of her sobriety and her newfound abstinence, she rebuilt her life on a solid foundation, and today, she lives free of the demons that almost destroyed her and has a life beyond her wildest dreams—all because of her willingness to let go.