Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #187 – A Man Has a Breakthrough with Food & Life

Joel’s life has felt uncertain and out of his control. He feels like he copes with the uncertainty in his life through food. At times, it’s as though he can’t stop eating and one meal turns into a several hour affair. Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, helps Joel put the pieces together on what is really going on behind the overeating. Rather than focusing on the eating as the problem, Joel discovers that what he is yearning for is something bigger in his life, using food as his outlet. Joel takes on his masculine, his feminine, his resistance to structure, and makes a big commitment to his life.

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Marc: Welcome, everybody, I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating and we are back in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m with Joel today. Welcome, Joel.

Joel: Thanks, Marc. Glad to be here.

Marc: Yeah, yeah. I’m glad we’re here. And let me just say a few words, Joel, to viewers and listeners who are new to the podcast. Here’s how it works. Joel and I, we’ve just been chatting for two or three minutes before coming on here live. And so this is the first time we’ve met. This is our session together. And we’re going to see if we can, in less than an hour, just kind of get some good work done and push the fast forward button a little bit on the transformational process.

So, Mr. Joel, if you can wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted to get from this session, what would that look like for you, my friend?

Joel: I think it would be to embody the sense of control over my life. I think that would sum up everything. It really does equate to like a bit of a lack of control, not really knowing where the steering wheel is and everything in life.

Marc: And does that show up in any way for you around food, around body, around weight, or what’s the connection there for you?

Joel: Yeah, food for sure. I mean I grew up around food. My mom was very much a woman-in-the-kitchen type of mom. And so I kind of got to see what she did all my life. And I kind of adopted that habit myself of really immersing myself in the kitchen and with food. But I eventually came to realize that there is this fine line between employing alchemy in the kitchen and creativity and then using food really as a coping tactic when things feel tough. And so I noticed that I’ve made that transition towards the dark side of it.

And so consequently, what ends up happening is eating becomes really a way for me to cope with a lot of internalized anxiety or even just to like avoid responsibilities. It just feels like it quiets everything down if I engage in eating, which can become really I think of temptation and compulsion. Like if something’s in reach, the off switch can be completely blank for me. Like I can just keep going and going and people say, “Where does it all go?” Like I don’t know, I’m a skinny guy. But it’s crazy how much I can actually eat. I just keep going at it for, literally, periods of hours. And even if it’s just like one meal in a day, that one meal can last for a period of three to five hours. So it’s definitely a huge imbalance point. And it’s not always there, but I frequent that way too often.

Marc: How many days a week or how many days a month would you say you end up in that tricky territory?

Joel: I can say weekly, probably three to four days out of the week. Lately in my life, it has become more frequent. In the past, I would always had less, maybe just a few times a month. But honestly, at this particular point, three to four times a week would be a good summation.

Marc: And when you’re eating the food, are you enjoying it? Are you into it?

Joel: Yeah. Like 98% of the time I’m actually—the funny thing about it is I’m crazy mindful with the actual nuances of the eating. Like I savor the food very much. I chew things. Like I think that was either you or Emily once I heard saying that make it a goal to be the last one to finish eating. Well, I’m way the last one to finish. So a normal meal, for me, would take me an hour and a half just to eat a normal basic meal. So I’m really into it, really enjoying bringing the passion out of it. It just doesn’t stop.

Marc: Yeah. How old are you, Joel?

Joel: Thirty-two.

Marc: You’re 32. Are you working? Are you in school? Tell me what you’re life looks like.

Joel: So I haven’t been working for a bit over a year now since I basically quit the jobs that I had to go visit my homeland for six weeks that I hadn’t been back in 15 years. Since I came back to Canada after that, it feels like this last year and a bit has really become a period of introspection for me and kind of like then I just moved back into my parents’ home at that time as well. So there was really a lot of just kind of orienting where’s my life kind of going.

Prior to that and sort of in between all that, I’ve been studying actually holistic nutrition for—there was a one year intensive that I was doing part-time over three years. And I was working prior to that in a group home environment with a lot of persons with physical and cognitive disabilities, which kind of goes back. And I did that for many years. And prior to that, I had focused my education on child and youth workers. So there was definitely this theme always around helping people who needed a voice, so to say.

Marc: So do you have a sense of where you might be going in the future in terms of your work?

Joel: I have like a vision. Definitely the getting there is very elusive to me. But as I’ve kind of really gone inward a lot, what I kind of see this vision—because I think I do good for myself in terms of like finding out my strengths.

And for a long time, I didn’t. I really kind of quieted down or ignored it or found some other shiny tool or gadget or tactic to find my productivity in the world and really ignoring the most powerful thing within me, which was my intuition. I have a little like next to psychic intuition with people. Like I can often finish people’s sentences. Talking to people after like a minute or two, it’s like I already get a sense of like we’re, they’re stuck in life and all that. Which is highly ironic because when I look at myself it is incredibly difficult to apply those skillsets or those innate abilities for myself. So I laugh at myself in that regard.

But in terms of what I wanted to tackle, I want to tap into that gift that I have, to be able to connect with people and connect for them the dots that they don’t see in their life. And help to make sense of their lives when they themselves may be lost in a certain arena of life or just in the simple albeit, I consider highly important facet of knowing who they are.

I’m very keen on having people express best of who they are into the world and bringing that. So I have spent also a lot of this year, as I’ve been rediscovering myself in deeper ways, to do that. To be as honest as I can be with myself and to let my actions embody that. Obviously, I’m not hitting that 100% of the time. But that is what I want to strive is to help people make that kind of fundamental change for themselves.

Marc: Do you have an idea of what specifically that would look like, like what specific kind of career or kind of profession?

Joel: Yeah. I think I would have kind of tailor to a molding of the different arenas that I’ve kind of learned and trained in throughout the years. So it would be something along the lines of like transformational health coach. I mean that’s not going to be like the final title that I would give myself but with my current choice of words…And I would imagine for me that would look a bit like working—probably 101 initially or maybe even opening that up to like working with small groups of people, because I do also love the dynamics of kind of feeling and reading the energy of a small group.

And honestly, from where I am right now, if there was like someone else looking in, I’d probably sound like a little off to handle like to say this. But I feel like I had a vision of myself actually years from now, actually speaking to thousands of people to elicit the kind of change that I want to see in the world, to see a better world.

Marc: I get it. So where’s your home country that you went to visit?

Joel: Portugal.

Marc: Portugal. How was that experience for you?

Joel: Definitely a mixed bag. I was confronted with a lot of anger. If I were to sum it up in a sentence, I would say that I felt angry that I was born into a family that had so much inherent debilitation or handicap or setback. And I feel like, literally, I had to trench through the mud just to kind of progress on life; that I was kind of given really a bad playing hand of cards, if you will. And I think that going back home and seeing the people I haven’t seen in 15 years and seeing where their mindsets were at and how they’re very fixed. And to me it felt like very backwards, a very backwards way of thinking.

So I was really challenged with those things. And I have to work through some of that anger. I haven’t fully worked through it, but that was one of the key aspects. There’s good as well. For the first time, I went to visit all the southern aspects of the country and a little bit of a road trip. So it was beautiful to see the beaches and experience the climate. So it wasn’t all that. But definitely, it brought challenge.

Marc: And how is it living in your parents’ house? That must be interesting.

Joel: Yeah. Initially, it was probably more challenging. And I’ve kind of done this probably four to five times now, where I’ve kind of gotten out, lived life, had an adventure. And then after that adventure, not going to know where I’m going next again. And at this state, currently, with my parents, like they are not in very good health.

So again, I find it kind of ironic that I studied a lot of around the realms of holistic health practices and holistic nutrition. And I could coach them a lot in terms of like here are better things to do. But also I understand their psychology to a point that, one, they’re not going to listen to their son. Like they’ll listen to the news or they’ll listen to maybe a friend. But if Joel is saying it, it’s just not going to sink in.

So initially, that was frustrating. But eventually, I realized it doesn’t matter if they’re blood related or not or it was a client. It’s just about meeting them where they’re at and then having the expectations attached.

So I can’t say that I’ve kind of walked away a lot from having that expectations that they will change or do things the way that I would like to see them do it because it’s better or healthier. And yeah, I mean this still frustrate me because they’re also pretty fixed and rigid. But because we’re sharing space, at the end of the day, I’m able to kind of make peace with that until I’m able to make my next big stride in life, however that looks like.

Marc: Got it, got it, got it.

So what do you think holds you back the most?

Joel: I’ve articulated that I have a certain fear around big responsibility. It’s like I think really big and I’m getting these wild ideas in like colors that I see it and the rest of the world doesn’t. And then I kind of shy away. Like I become scared in a way. It’s very much internalized. But on the external world, it shows up as me not taking bigger action, me playing a really small, me doubting myself, all that chitchat that can go on in the head.

Marc: So then I think I got your answers. So if you could say it in three or four words, what sometimes holds me back is…three or four words?

Joel: Fear of responsibility.

Marc: Fear of responsibility. That’s interesting. No, it is. It really is. And what would be the fear? So fear of responsibility, like what would happen if you took on more responsibility? So in the worst-case scenario, if my fear went down, it would look like this.

Joel: I think I would be afraid of letting someone or just letting people down. If I am opening up myself to be in a position of helping and then I were to fail at that or lead someone in a direction that’s actually not good for them, I feel like I would be harboring that responsibility. Even though, ultimately, I know the other person is the one who took their actions. It wasn’t me. I was just kind of coaching along. But I do feel like I harbor responsibility of others, which I don’t think I should.

Marc: So you have a responsibility meaning it’s like, “Hey, I need to help you out, I need to take care of you. And if I fail in any way, that’s a bad thing.” Is that kind of what you’re saying?

Joel: Yeah. And also like it’s not okay to make mistakes. That’s also been a recurring theme for me as well.

Marc: I think I get it. So how do your parents feel about where you’re at and where you’re all at together, like where do they stand? If I was talking to them right now and I said, “Hey, you know, I’m going to be speaking to Joel pretty soon about life and such and future and just sort of him being the best he can be,” what would they say to me?

Joel: Probably be confused and worried at the same time, I think. Because I know they don’t get me. I’m definitely like the odd one in any crowd I find myself in. But I know that they fundamentally don’t get me and communication with my folks is often scarce. I’m closer with my mom. But our communication overall, there’s not a lot there.

So I think it’d be hard for them to actually answer that just because it’s like we live on two separate planets. And I think that would also translate to the work aspect because when they think, he’s not working, he has no job, he doesn’t have a flow of money coming in right now. With all the conventional ways of what would be—things would be judged by. So I think that would be them worried and confused.

Marc: Got it. Do you have a timeline for yourself? In your mind, do you have a timeline? Do you have dates in terms of I want to be doing a certain kind of work by a certain kind of time, earning a certain kind of money by a certain kind of time, living in a different place at a certain kind of time? Like how are you in relation to the calendar with those kinds of things?

Joel: I don’t think I have a very good relationship with timing and calendars to be quite honest. So I haven’t set time frames. I’ve definitely taken on like taking it one day at a time. And I think this ties also into the aspect of anxiety that builds up easily inside of me.

And if I were to have—and I can actually speak from past experience like to say I have a deadline for something for an assignment or a project or for maybe I was going to like catering for a small event, those deadlines, they up my state of angst like a lot.

And there’s an element to that angst to where I can be super productive and incredibly productive but at what cost? So I’ve kind of like pushed or just detached myself from timelines as a whole. And I’m just trying to see like, literally, what’s the next foot that I’m going to put in front of me so that I don’t freak myself out.

Marc: So there’s a place in you where sometimes it’s hard to regulate your own emotions. It’s hard to regulate what’s going on in your body. So you might turn to food and make a meal, an extended meal, and it tends to help regulate you…

Joel: Yeah.

Marc: …is what it sounds like. And there are certain other things that you’ll do to help regulate yourself, which is like, “Whoa, wait a second, I got to like remove this deadline or I have to remove this pressure. Otherwise, I’m just not going to function well and it’s not going to look good.”

Joel: Yeah.

Marc: Okay. I think I get it. So if I said to you, “Pick a time, right now, when you feel you would like to be kind of well on your way to where you want to be.” What would feel comfortable for you? “God, I would like to be well on my way or just really feel good about being on my way by two months, two years,” just what pops into mind for you?

Joel: Yeah, the first thing that came to mind was like safety. I need to feel safe around whatever I choose. So I’m thinking something more like May, June, July, like towards the springtime of next year to allow me well over the winter period.

Marc: Understood, understood. Okay. I’ve got some thoughts. I got some thoughts about you and how to help context all this and kind of move things forward. So let me just free associate a little bit, share what I’m thinking about, and then we can just kind of dialogue from there. To me, any eating concern, any eating challenge, any unwanted eating habit is always talking to us. It’s always a bit of a messenger. It’s always symbolic. It’s always a metaphor for something else going on.

So to me, I feel pretty good sitting over here based on your assessment and based on kind of my listening about your assessment that, yeah, it makes sense to me that you use food to soothe, because humans use food to soothe themselves because it works. We only do things because they work. They serve a purpose. So to me, you’ve wisely assessed like, yeah, okay, so this meal that gets continuous, it just, yeah, it kind of regulates me and it helps me feel better. And maybe it distracts me from other things and maybe pulls me away from certain things, but it’s making me feel better.

And again I want to say, it makes biological and psychological sense because every human being has a very strong cellular memory: Cry, be upset, feel bad, eat food, feel better. That’s an infant experience. We have that encoded in our nervous system from billions of years, probably, of humanity and other creatures just feeling good when they eat food. So that makes sense.

So let’s look at it as useful information. So there are experiences that are hard for you to emotionally regulate so you’re going to turn to food. So what are those experiences that you’re having a challenge regulating? And on the one hand, it sounds to me like you at age—what did you tell me, 32? You’re 32, Joel, yeah?

Joel: Yes.

Marc: So at age 32, it feels to me like you are poised, for the first time, to jump into the fray of life in a whole different way. Previous to this moment, you have been a bit of an observer. You notice things. You study the world. You study people. You watch people. You watch what’s going on. You see what works. You see what doesn’t. You see some of the nonsense. You see nonsense that other people don’t see. You’re kind of determining like, wow, what’s going on? What’s the lay of the land here?

You mentioned to me one of your values is you need to feel safe before you do stuff. One of the ways you feel safe, which is a smart way, is you study your environment, study your environment. And you see what’s going on, the world, the political environment, your home environment, your family environment. You study your nutritional environment like, okay, what makes this work? So then you get enough tools to feel comfortable with moving forward.

So what I want to say is there is a difference, I think—and I’m just speaking to you as older brother here because I’ve been where you’re at. So who you are right now could’ve described me at my 20s, for sure, easily and maybe my early 30s as well. So there’s a place where we, as young men, were idealistic. Now, we look at stuff and we see what we don’t like and we see it can be better and we want it to change.

Joel: Yup.

Marc: And the reality is, the world is the world and it goes about its own business and its own pace. And it has its own kind of flow that is very different from what I want it to be doing. So I think what’s happening is you are at a philosophic spiritual crossroad as a man. You are at a fork in the road.

One road leads to the old way that you’ve been on, which is this is the way I want it to be. This is the way it should be. This is the way that makes me feel comfortable. Here’s what I need in order to be me in this world. Here’s what I need from you world to do so I can feel comfortable launching out being myself, putting myself out there. And you’re wanting the world a little bit to conform. And if it doesn’t conform, you’re letting that nonconformity impact you.

Joel: Yeah.

Marc: So because the world is not being its potential as you see it. And you’re probably right. You’re pulling back. And you’re not liking the game. And there’s a part of you that judges the game. There’s a part of you that gets angry at the game. I get it. I get angry at my family. Like come on you guys, like grow faster, evolve faster. Come on world, grow faster, evolve faster. That’s us being immortal teenagers with a lot of energy who want to change the world.

Right now you’re 32 and you have to come for more wisdom. And when I say more wisdom, what I mean is the world is not going to do what we want it to do in the way we want it, when we want it to do that. It has its own rules. And in order for us to impact the world, me and you as men, we have to play by the world’s rules. We have to learn those rules.

Obviously, there are certain things you’re not going to do. I’m not asking you to compromise your deepest moral and ethical values. But what I’m saying is here we are. You got to wear clothes. You’ve got to wipe your butt. You got to have a form of transportation. You got to read. You got to write. We have to earn money. Do people earn money in bad ways? Absolutely. But we all have to do it.

So to me, there’s a place where you are embodying now or learning to embody a different part of your manhood. And it’s the part of you that’s more the warrior. And the warrior has to jump into the fray.

And when you jump into the fray, you’re not perfect. When you jump in and start teaching or coaching or counseling or working somewhere, it isn’t going to be perfect. People will not like you. People will like you. Some people will accept you. Some people will reject you. Some people will think you’re an idiot. Some people will think you’re a genius. That’s the world. We will get all kinds of input and all kinds of toxicity.

And to me, it’s about you getting in alignment with what the world really is and letting go of how you want it to be. And not letting go of your dream for the world. Not letting go of your goodness. Not letting go of your spark.

But understanding that the world doesn’t roll out the red carpet for us to do good. It doesn’t roll out the red carpet. “Oh hey, Joel, you want to do good stuff in the world? No problem. We’re here for you. Here’s this great job. Here’s this great income. Here’s this great support. Here’s all this security and safety.”

It doesn’t work like that. We are in a form of chaos. Planet Earth is chaos. And you want it to be safe. It isn’t safe. We can create safety within certain relationships. We can have agreement. You can look at the light and it says, “Walk across the street. It says go. It’s green. For you and me, as pedestrians, it’s still not safe.” I still look both ways to make sure that a car is not going to run me over. So I get that a safety has been created for me but I’m still alert.

So all I’m saying is I think for many men there comes a point which I believe you are at where for you it’s not about eating less, eating more, figuring out your food thing. The food issue is perfectly there for you because it’s showing you that there’s a place where you’re getting nervous and you need to soothe.

So we’re just reverse engineering now and go, “Okay, so where is the action for you? What’s the biggest challenge, the biggest stressor for you in life?” To me, the biggest challenge and the biggest stressor for you is stepping into yourself. But for you, in your mind, I believe, stepping into yourself has to look a certain way. You have certain ways that you want it to look. And certain conditions have to be in place. And I’m saying is, you got to remove those conditions.

Joel: All of them?

Marc: Yeah, most of them. You have to be willing to remove all of them. You have to be willing to remove all of that. So here is my dream for you, I’m just going to tell you my dream for you. It’s very selfish right now. But I’m saying this once again as older brother who I had just been doing this longer than you have.

So my dream for you is that you reach a place where you feel empowered about who you are, that you’re doing work in the world that supports you, that you feel good about, that gives you enough money to have the basics and a little bit left over to have a nice little life, and that you feel you’re contributing and you feel you’re giving your gifts. And that’s my dream that you get to that place.

But to do that in this world is a rarity. It’s a privilege. It’s a privilege. And you have to claim it. And claiming it is not easy. Because if it was easy, you would’ve done it a long time ago. I would’ve done it a long time ago. It took me 50 years to figure out how to do it the way I wanted to do it. I was committed to doing good work in the world to making money doing good work in the world that I felt passionate about. But that’s a 1% life. How many people do you know have that?

So if you want to have a 1% life, you got to put in a 1% effort, you know what I’m saying? You got to put in the kind of effort that gives you that gift. And that effort, it’s up to life’s terms, not necessarily your terms or my terms. So I’m yakking away here, how’s all this landing for you so far?

Joel: Yeah. Your speaking sounds sensible to me, yeah. I feel, although minute, there are elements of resistance within me because I feel like one of my, I don’t know what to call it, a value or guiding principle is that because I see so much corruption in the world that there are certain rules that, as we are stepping into graduated manhood or whatnot, that some of those rules actually I feel like I was born to be breaking certain rules to shoulder fallacies. And so that’s one of the things that has made it difficult for me to adapt to the grind that I guess everyone steps through, ultimately, at some point.

I mean I definitely want to do that like kind of meeting halfway thing. I feel like there’s—I don’t feel completely able to just let go of certain elements that I do feel inside of me that should be how I have come to perceive it through my felt sense reality.

But at the same time, I also take in and appreciate what you’re saying that there’s a much greater degree of adaptability that I need to also take in. And that there are certain rules that make up the consensus reality for everyone that I can’t go against because it’s just going to close the doors. So that makes a lot of sense to me.

Marc: Not my favorite movie, have you seen the movie, The Matrix?

Joel: Of course.

Marc: Okay. So I want you to think of it like when you go to work in the world, you’re going into the matrix. You have to play by the rules. You have to be in the matrix. You have to learn how to shape shift. You got to learn how to put on a suit if you need to put on a suit. Put on a bathing suit if you want to go in the ocean. Put on a tuxedo if you want to be the best man at the wedding. You got to learn how to put on your dancing clothes if you want to go out and salsa. So we put on different costumes to accomplish different tasks.

Does that mean you are the bathing suit person? Does that mean you are the businessman? No. It just means you put on different costumes. You put on your pajamas at night. That’s the costume to go to bed in, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be sleeping the rest of your life. It’s learning how to have more facility in the world so you could be more effective in it.

So yes, you’re on a crazy planet with a lot of nonsense. And you could talk about, let’s say, the banking system and how awful it is and how terrible it is. And the way it is, is you got to keep money somewhere and I don’t recommend under a mattress. So it’s like, okay, so I have to use that system. Okay, I don’t like the fact that I have to pay tax on the same car that I bought year after year after year, at least in this country. And I got to get a license. But okay, I want to drive a car, that’s the rule. So I can adapt to that without fighting it.

Before you start breaking the rules or holding them up for people that they should be changing them or breaking them, if you want to be effective at that, you have to understand those rules. You got to know how to talk about those rules. You got to be chill about those rules. Because if you get on your soapbox about it, nobody’s going to listen.

Joel: I see.

Marc: So we got to be clever. You have to be smart. It’s not like we can say, “I want to do this my way because my way isn’t always the smartest way.” So what I’m simply telling you is, if you want to change the world, you have to be more clever. You have to be more stealth. You have to put on your costume and understand when I go into a certain job, I’m assuming a role.

And I have to play that role well. That role doesn’t define me. But I’ve been able to have all kinds of fascinating impact in the world because I can walk into different places and talk to different kinds of people and have their attention. That’s way more effective than hitting them over the head. If I have their attention, they’re listening to me. Hitting them over the head, they’re not going to like it.

So what’s happening is you tend to get a little bit caught like a deer. Well, you get angry but you also get caught like a deer in headlights. You get stopped from action because there’s a part of you that realizes your system is not effective for you. It’s not moving you forward in the best way. Your system, meaning, I’ve got to be safe before I do anything. It has to look like this. I’ve got to fight things in that way.

And I’ve got to make this big impact. And it’s got to be perfect. Whew, that’s a lot of hard constraints. I would not want to step out into the world if that’s what was going on in my head. There’s a lot of pressure there. So you’re setting yourself up to fail from the get-go, which is why you don’t want to make attempts.

So I want you, personally, I want to see you get in the game. I don’t want to see you on the sidelines. You’re fully ready to get in the game. But it’s a fray. It’s mayhem. It’s chaos. It’ll get messy. You will get angry. People will piss you off. People will do stupid things. And then it’s your job and it’s my job to go, okay, how do we conduct that? How do we Tai Chi it? How do we master it? How do we navigate it? How do you help move somebody’s energy so they see it in a different way? We can’t necessarily have the perfect conditions from the beginning to create that because this is not how the world works. The world is very messy and is very imperfect.

So that’s me over here trying to just tell you straight up, head on. I’m just trying to save years of counseling, coaching psychotherapy. Like really, really, really to say like what would help you get unstuck. To my mind, what helps you get unstuck is to bump it up to the level of philosophy and see how your philosophy wants to change.

Your philosophy is actually bigger than you. It’s smarter than you. The wisdom in the universe is bigger and smarter than me or you. It’s trying to come through. And it’ll come through in a very wise and intelligent way.

And it’ll come through in a way oftentimes that will humble us. Are you with me?

Joel: Yeah.

Marc: So there’s a part of you that has to let go of the perfection that you want to see in yourself and in the world and in your work and in your family and in all of it. And you will be free when you can look at your family and go, “You crazy nutbags, I love you all.” That’s where I come from.

Because you’ve got half your mother’s DNA and half your father’s DNA, like it or not. You’re them. So you got to see the good that’s in there. And you got to also see at the same time how you want to improve upon it, that’s totally legitimate, totally reasonable. It’s the same thing like I get mad at planet Earth but I also love it at the same time. It’s where I come from.

My family, I might describe them the same way you describe your family but I love them to pieces because I see the good in them. And I’m not trying to change them. They have a different journey, a different path. Everybody in the world, different journey, different path. And as soon as we let go of the judgment, and this is how it should be, all of a sudden the game gets exciting and it gets interesting and things start to happen. Because things are not being bottled up by my judgment or my assessment of it should be this way, not that way.

Joel: Yeah. That’s an interesting point you brought there about feeling—to take on something where it’s exciting and maybe don’t know exactly what’s going to come but to have that feeling of angst or expectation to let that no longer be, what’s swirling around me as I contemplate putting myself out in the world but actually take it on with a sense of refreshed excitement. I think that’s something that I haven’t experienced for a while now. And I think I need to reconnect to that somehow.

Marc: Yeah. And part of reconnecting to that is allowing for the terror. Because there will be fear and terror and excitement and they’re very close cousins. Oftentimes, it is said that the only difference between excitement and fear is that excitement has breathing in it.

And we’re slightly seeing things a little different. Fear, we tend to hold our breath. Excitement is like [gasping for air]. And excitement, we’re giving ourselves a moment of exhilaration or joy, which is often, often, often present in the very thing we’re afraid of.

Right on the other side of fear is excitement. Think of a rollercoaster. Some people go down a rollercoaster and they’re screaming because they’re excited and somebody sitting next to them might be screaming because they’re afraid. It looks the same but it’s a slightly different attitude with a little bit of breathing.

So what I want to say to you is it’s not always going to be exciting. You have to allow for the terror and the fear to come in. Your fear of the fear; your fear of the terror; your fear of the discomfort, I believe, is a major factor that stops you. And it will cause you or stimulate you to want to eat because your body wants to feel soothed and you want to get back to a certain state that is familiar to you. What I am saying is, I want to see you slowly reset your system so that your system, this body, and this nervous system, your nervous system, can tolerate more nonsense, more ambiguity, more fear, more uncertainty, more lack of control. Because the reality is, you have no control. I have no control.

Yeah, okay, I’m in the car. I’ve got some control. I could control what I wear today, what I eat today to some degree, who I talk to. There are certain kinds of control that we have. When you get sick, when you die, who you’re going to meet, who you’re not going to meet, all these things, all the mysteries of life, we got no control over, my friend. So that’s a piece of your philosophy and religion you want to really put on the altar and see, does this realty serve me? Is that a good commandment of my Ten Commandments that I’m living by? I don’t think it is. I don’t think it moves the action forward.

The idea is for you to have the kind of nervous system that can handle. You give a lecture and thousands of people don’t show up to show up. I’ve given a lecture and one person showed up. I walked into bathroom, I asked them to wait for a minute. I wanted to cry. I was told there was going to be hundreds of people there, granted there was a snowstorm, but still one person.

And I had a choice. And I remember thinking to myself, I could either collapse and cry like a baby, which I wanted to do, trust me. Or I could make this the best lecture ever. So I made it the best lecture ever. That was my commitment. I’m going to walk out there, I’m going to go back into the room and going to be excited. And I’m going to answer all this person’s questions and she’s going to get $10,000 worth of experience. So all I’m saying is we are training our nervous system to handle increasing levels of life and complexity.

Joel: And being messy.

Marc: Yes. You got to learn to be messy, my friend.

Joel: I’ve been told.

Marc: Yes. You’ve got to let your nervous system weightlift the world more and weightlift the things that are uncomfortable for you and lean in a little bit more. So it’s a very masculine piece I’m asking you to learn. You have a very well developed feminine. That is one of your superpowers. You have very strong intuition. You said to me at the beginning of this call, I’m at a point in my life where I’m looking to put one foot in front of the other. You’re wanting to live more in the moment. I understand that. That’s more the feminine part of our brain and that’s fine. But in my opinion for you, right now, you need to be in more your linear logical masculine left-brain mode in life. It doesn’t mean you’re letting go of all your intuition.

Joel: Kind of orients.

Marc: To orient—

Joel: To kind of orient the creativity and the intuition that I’ve harbored over the last long stretch period of introspection.

Marc: Yes, 50/50. I would like to see you at least 50/50 in your masculine and in your feminine. And your masculine is very different from your feminine and you’re going to have to get to know it. And you’re going to have to cultivate it just as deliberately as you’ve cultivated your intuitive capacities, your subtle abilities, your ability to see, your ability to pierce beyond the veil, all that sort of thing. Your ability to empathize and to feel, you’ve cultivated that. Good for you.

Now, I’m asking you, cultivate your masculine side, the linear side of you. The side that plans. The side that says I’m going to be making this much money by this amount of time. I’m going to be living in my own place by such and such a date. And then you start to reverse engineer and see how you do that. See how you make that happen.

So you could still have flow within that, certain days, on the weekend, whenever. But it isn’t going to be all the time. It’s learning how to balance those out because that’s the yin and yang of the universe. That’s what gets things done, the different parts of us.

The masculine part of you is going to be the part of you that’s the doer in the world that’s going to actually do stuff and make stuff happen and shield yourself from that which is no good for you or let things in that is good for you. And when an arrow gets in there that hurts, your masculine is the part of you that’s going to go, “Ahh, that hurt. Let’s not do that again,” and tend to your wound a little bit. So have you read the book The Way of the Superior Man?

Joel: I haven’t read it but I have had segments of it preached at me.

Marc: Okay. Read the book. Read the book. That’s a good book for you to read. Whatever it is about the book that you don’t like, don’t like it, throw it out, don’t worry about it. So I’m going to say to you, at least 90% of that book might be applicable for you. Whatever 10% doesn’t feel good or feel right, don’t let that get in the way of the goodies in it. You follow me?

Joel: Yeah.

Marc: And it’s probably the best book I know out there on retraining the masculine mind. Because it just has a lot of great distinctions about here is the masculine way of being. And when I say masculine, it’s the masculine for men, the masculine for women. It’s the masculine polarity of lives in the universe, in nature, but specifically in human beings, specifically in this case for you as a man, for us as men.

We live in a time—and it pisses me off, I’m just being personal here—where it’s very politically correct for us to be gender neutral. If you’re gender neutral, be gender neutral. We all have I think a naturalness to our gender. Whatever that is. We’re thrown a certain way. We’re born a certain way.

I think the world has been enculturating men and women. It has been enculturating it’s women to be extra-masculine and it has been enculturating its men to be extra-feminine. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not. But I think we stepped over the bounds a little too far. And what happens is a lot of our men are missing a piece of their masculine. A lot of our women are missing a part of their feminine.

So for me, I know that was the case. And I had to really cultivate my masculine so I could have what I want in this world so I could be the person I want to be in this world, the man I want to be in this world and to have all my tools available to me. I want to play with a full toolkit. I want to have all the advantages a human could have in this world to do good, to have a good life. That means having a well-developed feminine and a well-developed masculine. So what I’m saying to you is that’s what I think a great kind of course correction would be for you at that fork in the road. I want you to take the fork in the road that says developing my masculine.

Joel: Well, I guess that can be a good starting point. Because like when I think of developing a practice for honing in the masculinity. I could say that’s going to elude me but perhaps I can use that book that you suggested, The Way of the Superior Man, as a starting point for daily practice. So reading some of that perhaps and just really sinking in to that logical aspect.

Marc: I would love for you to do that. And I would love for you to think about creating more structure for yourself. Because part of what’s going to help your masculine come out even more is for you to have structure. Right now, you’re a little bit hesitant around structure and you’re melting an immune system response to structure. That’s how it occurs to me when we talk about it and when I hear you talk about being in the flow.

And I get that it’s comfortable for you and it’s safe for you. But it’s not strengthening you at this stage of the game to my mind. So to me, you’re launching yourself right now. That’s kind of how I’m looking at it and structure will be your God. Structure is going to help you be the best possible human and the best possible man. Because in order to be effective in the world, we need structure, plain and simple.

We need structure that makes us effective. Your house is a structure. Your computer is so well structured and articulated. The Internet is so well structured and articulated. The financial system, all of it, nutrition, biology, very structured, very well articulated. So we are just going to mimic life.

And we’re going to be structured and well articulated because in that place, that’s when creativity could then have something to flow through. And when creativity is flowing through a structure, then you have a museum that people can come to. Then you have a professional practice that people can come into your office, into your structured system, and then within that, creativity is free to occur. You follow me?

Joel: I do, I do. Yeah.

Marc: Yeah. So it’s changing your thinking. It’s changing your thinking and what I’m saying is, it’s actually changing your thinking in a really big way. I’m asking a lot of you here. I’m asking you to change your religion a bit. I’m asking you to change your philosophy or at least consider it.

At least consider it because I think that’s going to be the key for you to get where you want to go, is to embrace the masculine and to see how some of your operating guidelines right now are taking you away from that masculine and into the place that’s more safe and comfortable and familiar to you.

But what I’m saying is you’re stepping out into the unknown, which is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. And the unknown lets you know your fear. And the fact that something is unknown and uncertain and out of your control means that’s where the masculine is, that direction, that’s where it is.

Joel: It also sounds like from the philosophy you’re describing that when encountering that inevitable hiccup that, yes, that’s the direction to go in. But then that’s also where I can channel in the feminine creativity to find the solution to that very problem that’s demanding that masculine presence.

Marc: Bingo, bingo. 100%. You got it.

Joel: Alright. Well, I think I got the direction that I need to take decisive and consistent action on.

Marc: Yeah. And, Joel, I really appreciate this conversation because over here, in my world, I’ve kind of hit you with some hard stuff. And I feel like you’re just being a great sport and you’re really open and being considerate. Where I’m coming from, again, is it’s, for me, this has been a very man-to-man conversation.

And sometimes our conversations are woman-to-man, woman-to-woman, it’s like it’s all those different permutations. And it’s a different conversation because men and women are different. We’re equal in the eyes of the universe but we are different creatures. So to me, we’ve been discussing distinctions around men and the masculine that I believe are important, particularly important for what you said about where you’re at, where you’ve been, and where you want to go.

I think it’s a big missing piece in this world right now and I think you are well equipped for this challenge. And it’s going to be a challenge. And it’s going to rough you up. And it’s going to get messy. And it’s going to get dirty. And you’re going to get a little bumped and bruised. And you’re going to feel hurt. You’re going to get your feelings hurt.

And part of being in the masculine is not numbing our feelings but it’s learning how to protect ourselves and protect our feelings and have feelings and have a heart. But at the same time, being willing and able to go into the world and do battle when we need to do battle.

Be a warrior when you need to be a warrior. Be clear when you need to be clear. And if somebody wants to say, “No, I disagree.” And you want to stand your ground and say, “I’m sorry, this is the way I see it,” then your nervous system and your digestive system can handle that.

Joel: Yeah, that’s so key right there.

Marc: Yeah. So the way you learn that is by practice. So your digestive system will get stronger as you practice that. And you already have a fast metabolism. It’s a little bit sensitive. But having a fast metabolism actually is going to mean you’re nervous system is pliable. It means you can make shifts and changes easier than you know in this regard. So I’m pretty confident for you.

Joel: Oh, good. And maybe I’ll just be sure to add a little bit of friendly wrestling on the side too…

Marc: There you go. I like it. For sure. Absolutely. That’s what I’m saying. So, Joel, I really appreciate you taking the time. I really appreciate you diving in and I think it’s been a really, really good conversation. And I look forward to a bunch of months down the line, we’ll do this again. We’ll reconnect and see how you’re doing. Get the book. Read it. And I think you’re going to get a lot of it.

Joel: Okay. Thank you, Marc. I really appreciate it. This has been an honor for me as well, thank you.

Marc: And an honor for me too. Thank you, Joel.

And thank you, everybody, for tuning in. So appreciate it. Once again, I am Marc David, on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast, lots more to come, my friends. Thanks for tuning in and take care.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2016

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