MBS Personality Traits
Those who suffer with MBS, says Dr. John Sarno, “tend to be perfectionistic, compulsive, highly conscientious and ambitious; they are driven, self-critical and generally successful.” (The Mindboy Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain…page 22). Other mindbody experts agree with this as well.
Another dominant trait is the need to be good (coined “Goodism” by Dr. Sarno). We desire to please, to be liked, and to be helpful usually at the expense of self-sacrifice. We develop restrictive personalities, repressing or suppressing emotions such as, rage, anger, aggression and guilt.
We want to be viewed as “nice” people. The problem is, we put far too much pressure on ourselves, trying to live up to high expectations that are difficult or impossible to meet.
Interestingly, none of us ever grows out of the need to be comforted. It is the human condition. If we do not have healthy outlets at the time of our need, we seek solace or pleasure through other gratifications, such as overeating, smoking, sex, drinking, gambling and other forms of entertainment and play.
This is one reason why food disorders are identified with MBS. Knowledge therapy, then, is not only for the reduction or elimination of pain but also helps with food disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders and other destructive behaviors.
Let me give you an example of how this works. About an hour after I had eaten dinner, I suddenly had the compulsive thought that I wanted to eat something. It came out of the blue, dominating my thoughts. I knew I couldn’t be hungry as I had just eaten dinner not an hour before. Rather than mindlessly wandering to the kitchen as I sometimes do, I stopped myself and asked, “What’s going on here? Think psychologically. What are you thinking?” At first I drew a blank. But then insight started to surface.
I had been reading an excerpt from Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is. Her work is recommended by Dr. Schubiner and can be found at her website http://www.thework.com. (Click Byron Katie in the blogrolls at the right side of this blog). She had stated that until you can forgive a situation 100%, you are not healed. If you have forgiven 99%, you are not healed. That is when I felt the urge to eat.
I dug deeper into my psyche. What came to light is that I had been thinking of my mother and condemning myself for not being perfect, for not forgiving a certain situation 100%. Furthermore, I held a deep seeded belief that good people don’t have anger toward their mother. My mother grew up believing that. She was sent away from the dinner table by her father the two days before she was to be married because he felt she had said something that did not respect her mother. When I was growing up, I got the message implied and spoken. The famous saying at our house was, “You do not sass your mother.”
The implied belief is that if I said or thought anything negative about my mother, I was a bad person. I was feeling guilty about having a negative thought in regard to anger and unforgiveness. Therefore, I was a bad person. The feeling I wanted to repress and submerge with food a few nights ago was guilt and the idea that I was a bad, bad person for having angry, critical thoughts.
MBS teaches that we all have two voices within us that want to be heard. These two forces are always struggling against each other. They are:
1. The Inner Child who is selfish and dependent and wants what it wants when it wants it.
2. The Inner Parent or Super Ego who is inordinately critical and tells us what we should and should not be doing or thinking. It’s the voice that booms loudly and clearly: You are a bad person because I said so.
I was told in my 20’s by a shrink that I had an overactive Super Ego. I was extremely critical with myself, always telling myself I shouldn’t do this or that, and living more for what someone else wanted or believed than for what I believed and desired. If I was good, very, very good, then people would like me.
There it was again. That super critical inner parent telling me I was a bad person because I dared to hold negative thoughts and was not 100% perfect. Aha. Then the MBS work began.
I engaged in self-talk, telling my brain that thinking I was a bad person and feeling guilty was simply wrong. Byron Katie suggests that we always confront a thought with the question: Is that true?
Believing that a mother is always 100% correct and you never questioned it was my mother’s belief that I integrated fully as a youngster. But I had a right to think differently. I told myself that I belonged to the human race (a very important concept for MBS people to get), and I had a right to feel or think the way I wanted. How could I not have a thought after I had already thought it? How could I not have a feeling after I already felt it? I certainly was not bad for being human. Everyone has those thoughts. And I certainly did not have to feel guilty for having thoughts we all have at one time or another.
The urge to eat completely disappeared. Often we use food, pain or other activities to push down or repress unacceptable emotions and thoughts, when, in fact, we need to look at them, sit with them until we understand them and where they came from, and then decide exactly what belief system, thoughts and emotions we want to adopt for ourselves.
The personality traits of MBS people don’t allow us to be human. We have to be perfect, we have to be good, we can’t have bad thoughts or say angry things.
No, the truth is, we must allow ourselves to have rage, guilt, anger, you name it. We have it anyway. We must tell our inner parent that we will decide what we will believe and that we will no longer blindly serve another person’s beliefs and ideas. It’s not that we want to go around with ugly. negative, thoughts. It’s that we make a conscious decision and a commitment to rejoin the human race and stop holding ourselves hostage to impossible expectations.
I can tell you, this work ended in total freedom. I totally let go of the desire to eat something I did not physically need. It is liberating to be true to your inner self. It allows you to accept yourself which is the end goal for all of us. And especially for those who have MBS.
The next time you want to overeat, drink too much, light up a cigarette that you know is harmful, get hit with pain, ask yourself: What’s going on emotionally in me? What was I doing just before this urge began? What’s going on psychologically right now? The more you stop these thoughts from automatically traveling down a repeated neural pathway in the brain, the easier it will become to stop them the next time and then the next time.