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“Are You Praying For Rain While Standing On The Garden Hose?”

Dear Planet Perry Member,

One of my wife’s best friends is a spunky young mom named Angel. She’d had bulimia in high school that included a stint in the hospital. She thought she was finished with it way back when. But then 8 years ago that bulimia came back with a vengeance. It marched back into her life and slammed with hurricane force. Literally at 1:45pm on a Tuesday afternoon in November. Suddenly she was purging every meal and dropping pounds fast.

She tumbled over the edge of a cliff. Angel really did have a 36-24-36 body. She wasn’t a fashion model, but she was as attractive as anyone can expect a 30-year-old mommy to be. Suddenly she’s 82 pounds and her ribs are showing and she’s gaunt and pale and her butt and breasts are flat and her jeans are baggy and her arms are bony and we’re imploring Angel Angel please, you’re so skinny and you’re going to kill yourself, please please please get some professional help and start eating…

yet when she looks in the mirror every brain cell is SCREAMING, “Angel, YOU ARE SO FAT!!!”

I had never confronted anything like this before and it was one of the most truly bizarre things I had ever witnessed. Laura and I kept wanting to say, “Snap out of it!” as though she could just suddenly decide to start eating. But she couldn’t. Something deep inside her belief system was desperately wrong and until that changed, nothing would change her behavior.

It was her love for her children that forced her to dig in and deal with it. Because logically she knew (and yes she really did know) that she could very well end up killing herself if she didn’t get to the root of this problem, this belief, this rogue program. And her kids would lose their mommy.

There are different levels of knowing. All of us have beliefs that are different from what we say we believe or want to believe.

The essence of self-improvement is changing these beliefs. It’s not the same as changing a creed or fixing your attitude. The human mind contains a marvelously complex piece of software and all kinds of little programs – viruses, if you will – get implanted. Sometimes intentionally but as often as not it’s accidental.

So here Angel is with a major crisis on her hands. Laura can’t fix her, her husband can’t fix her, and she doesn’t know how to fix herself. Laura’s in crisis intervention mode trying to put band-aids on the problem for her friend and something needs to be done.

Little by little, Angel makes headway:

  • She finds a counselor whom others say is really really good at this stuff. (80/20 applies to counselors too, by the way – 5% of the counselors achieve 50% of the results, and the patients of the other 95% are throwing darts in a blizzard. I have pretty much the same opinion about therapists as I have about MBA’s.) This guy turns out to be really good. He asks such good questions.
  • She goes on an anti-depressant for awhile and it definitely does get things under control
  • Her friends take care of her kids and help with house work so she can devote some time to herself
  • She starts journaling – pouring out feelings and thoughts and attitudes onto a piece of paper so she can begin to talk to her inner self and get to the bottom of those beliefs

Slowly but surely, Angel re-programmed those beliefs.

Every single one of those changes was important, but from what I can tell the thing that helped her the most was the journaling. And the most important part of that was listening to herself journal. Listening to herself for the very first time. Not listening to her mother or whatever other voices were shouting for her attention and sanity.

Because in those quiet moments away from the distractions and the kids, God would speak to her too. Memos from the Head Office: Angel, don’t you know how much I love you? Angel, you know what I like about you? I like the way you cradle your son and sing to him in the afternoon and play with his toes… Angel, you don’t need to do anything, you don’t need to be anything, you don’t need to fix anything, I don’t just love you, I like you, just the way you are.

Angel would write these words down as they came streaming in, and she would experience those beliefs being transformed at the deepest level. Software patches from the Master Programmer.

Angel’s Epiphany was: When she began to love herself just as she was already loved… as she became willing to bless herself even as she was already blessed… that’s when she experienced the healing balm.

She stopped trying to kill herself. She’s not bulimic anymore. She’s healthy and she’s as lovely as anyone expects a 38 year old mommy to be. Hear the sound of thick wooden doors splintering and iron chains breaking. Joy as a prisoner is released from her cell.

Do you have financial anorexia? Where you never can seem to get a good solid meal? Do you have financial bulimia where you engorge yourself with success but then vomit it all up and have to start over?