I was recently teaching a Krav Maga class when the tone and tenor of the students caused a mild eruption in me.
I began asking a series of questions to bring to light the issue at hand. My questions made it abundantly clear that the students needed to shift perspective and embrace the opportunity before them.
In short, Krav Maga class is one of the few activities where each student is in complete control of how he/she will give effort. Each student is in complete control over his/her level of aggression, presence, and mindfulness. In other words, Krav Maga training is one of the few pursuits in life where we can, by definition, take complete control of the altercation / situation. That’s the point of Krav Maga.
The discussion led to a broader point, as questions filtered through the classroom. I seized upon the powerful irony of food.
I asked, “In what part of your life are you always totally in charge of what is happening – where your decision is final?”
I answered, “Are you in complete control over what you put in your mouth and consume as food?”
The answer came back with a resounding ”Yes!”
Do any of you leave here, and as you sit down to eat on a daily basis, find yourself at gunpoint being force fed food you didn’t choose?”
The answer came back with a resounding ”No!”
Then I said, “So, if you are in complete control over what goes into your mouth as nourishment, and you are eating foods that are patently unhealthy on a consistent basis, you are…?”
A single voice rang out, “…out of control.” Correct…
The reasons why we abuse ourselves with one of the few opportunities in life where we have complete control over the input (and much of the outcome) are many. Food is associated with a myriad of emotions and the “feeding” of those emotions (or as consolation for negative emotions). Food is a kind of temporary mediator between the emotions we are feeling – often deeply seated, shadow emotions that facilitate destructive behavior – and a perceived need to eat in response.
Ironically, it’s consistently poor food choices that cause powerful shifts in our health, quality of life, and longevity. And, as people sink into these health pitfalls, they often become more aware of the current and unfolding crisis. This creates more emotion, more shadows – and in a cruel irony, these people double down on the poor food choices that are creating the health (and in some cases social) crisis – as they seek more consolation in unhealthy food to offset the crisis being caused by unhealthy food. This cycle is insidious.
Doesn’t this sound like someone who is out of control? To me, it sounds similar to Stockholm Syndrome.
Stockholm Syndrome was first coined as a phrase after a botched 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. A standoff with police and SWAT followed. During the standoff, the hostages developed a psychological alliance with the hostage takers – connecting to the hostage takers mission. At one point, a hostage reported being more afraid of the responding police than the hostage takers. The rest, as oversimplified as this recounting might be, is history. Hence, the term Stockholm Syndrome was born.
In the food analogy above, I’m comparing terribly unhealthy, carbladen, processed foods with the hostage takers. The person eating the unhealthy food is the hostage. And, as time unfolds, the hostage begins to more and more powerfully identify with the hostage taker. In this case, the stakes are essentially identical. Both situations can end in a terrible shift in quality of life – even death.
It’s time we all begin to take stock of what we do and why. It’s time to build a stronger and healthier sense of awareness about our behaviors. And it’s time to do something about it. Your life and quality of life depend on it.