Intuitive Eating: Willingness vs. Willfulness

I recently finished reading a book entitled “Will vs. Spirit” by Gerald May, and while he was talking about Willingness vs. Willfulness as it applies to recovery and your spiritual walk, I couldn’t help but realize just how applicable it is to Intuitive Eating, as well.

This is what he had to say:

Willingness implies a surrendering of one’s self-separateness, an entering into, an immersion in the deepest processes of life itself. It is a realization that one already is a part of some ultimate cosmic process and it is a commitment to participation in that process. In contrast, willfulness is the setting of oneself apart from the fundamental essence of life in an attempt to master, direct, control, or otherwise manipulate existence. More simply, willingness is saying yes to the mystery of being alive in each moment. Willfulness is saying no, or perhaps more commonly, ‘yes, but…’

— Gerald May

I have deduced that diets are all about willfulness – striving tomasterone’s appetite, rather than embrace it. Whereas Intuitive Eating is all aboutwillingness.

See, with IE we surrender the part of ourselves that separates the desires of our mind/will/low-esteem from our innate desires to feed and nourish ourselves. And by surrendering this ‘divider’, if you will, we create unity between both our psychological desires and those of our biological selves. And suddenly our biological desires start to interplay with our psychological desires: and thus we begin to want nourishment not only physically, but psychologically as well. We no longer see our hunger as something to be ‘mastered’; rather, we see it as something to be embraced.

With diets, on the other hand, it is all about separateness and mastery. Diets teach us that our natural cravings and appetites cannot be trusted, that they are evil, and that we must develop the willpower to go up against them and defeat them. And this is why diets fail. But, more importantly, this is why diets leave you feeling guilty, unfulfilled (both physically AND psychologically), and frustrated.

I have actually approached Intuitive Eating from both these standpoints. I attempted to ‘master’ my cravings by seeing IE as a rigid plan that had to be mastered; but it was not until I let go and let willingness to take over, allowing myself to submit to my natural instinct & desire to feed myself that IE truly began to transform my life. (Read more of this on my previous post Obsession vs. Commitment)

And so today I encourage you togive up your willful desiresand to be more willing. Embrace your appetite – don’t try to master it.

And feel yourself fall into beautiful freedom.


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