“Go away and come back in two weeks”

Nathaniel Branden, in The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem (1995), p. 64, tells the following story.

In India, when a family encounters a problem, they are not likely to consult a psychotherapist (hardly any are available), they consult the local guru. In one village there was a wise man who had helped this family more than once. One day the father and mother came to him, bringing their nine-year-old son, and the father said, “Master, our son is a wonderful boy and we love him very much. But he has a terrible problem, a weakness for sweets that is ruining his teeth and health. We have reasoned with him, argued with him, pleaded with him, chastised him — nothing works. He goes on consuming ungodly quantities of sweets. Can you help us?” To the father’s surprise, the guru answered, “Go away and come back in two weeks.” One does not argue with a guru, so the family obeyed. Two weeks later they faced him again, and the guru said, “Good. Now we can proceed.” The father asked, “Won’t you tell us, please, why you sent us away for two weeks. You have never done that before.” And the guru answered, “I needed the two weeks because I, too, have had a lifelong weakness for sweets. Until I had confronted and resolved that issue within myself, I was not ready to deal with your son.”

He says that he likes to tell that story to psychotherapy students and that not all psychotherapists like the story.

It may be tempting, but it is self-deceiving to believe that what one says can communicate more powerfully than what one manifests in one’s person. We must become what we wish to teach.

Update 1: The first book on “how to write fiction” was written by someone pretending to be a “well-known novelist” but who had actually never written fiction, and who eventually wrote exactly one novel, that almost no one bought. Details here.

Update 2: In “Why a personal trainer is making himself obese… on purpose

Since May, Drew Manning has gained about 70 pounds on purpose. And he’s not done yet.
Drew is a personal trainer and has always been the “fit guy.” He’s now on a journey he calls Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit where he spends six months (he has about 4 weeks left) eating unhealthy food and not exercising, then he will take six more months to get fit again. Why? To experience for himself what it’s like to be overweight, how tough it is to lose weight, and ultimately show others how to get fit. But this is sooo extreme! And I hate that Drew is deliberately making himself unhealthy. I asked him all about it…

FatFighterTV: As someone who has always been fit, how can you stand doing this to yourself?

Drew Manning: It’s been very tough physically, mentally and emotionally to let myself go like this. The first couple of months were the hardest. I felt like I was going through withdrawals, just like any other addiction. I was jealous seeing people running, going to the gym, and being in shape.

FFTV: Are you concerned about your health?

DM: Yes, definitely. With a BP reading of 161/113 you can’t NOT be concerned. I haven’t felt in danger yet, but I still have 4 weeks left to go. People tell me all the time to stop now, but I look at it like this…..if others can live years with these unhealthy risk factors, like high BP, glucose levels, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, etc. then I can last another 4 weeks. Plus I want to show people how living a healthy lifestyle can change all of those risk factors.

FFTV: Are you enjoying eating all those unhealthy foods?

DM: Yes and no. To some extent, all of these foods that I’m eating (sugary cereals, granola bars, juices, white breads, white pastas, sodas, crackers, chips, frozen dinners, mac n cheese, etc.) taste delicious. But then I feel like crap later on and I get hungry again and crave those same foods.

FFTV: You’ve gained about 70 pounds now since May – how do you feel?

DM: I’m to the point where I feel lethargic and uncomfortable. I definitely feel “addicted” to these foods. In the beginning, I did not like soda, but now I can’t go a day without, otherwise I’ll get the headaches, bad mood, etc. Emotionally, it’s taken a toll on my confidence level, even in my marriage. I don’t like the way I look in public; nothing fits right; bending over to tie my shoes or clip my toe nails has become so difficult. I’ve definitely taken those things for granted.

FFTV: You mentioned that you want to gain an understanding of how hard it is to be overweight – what have you learned so far?

DM: I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is how intense and how real these food cravings are. I think a lot of people associate the word “addiction” with drugs and alcohol, but I do believe this addiction (to America’s processed foods) is real and very similar. I know I’ll never know exactly what it’s like for every person that’s overweight and I don’t claim to, but at least I understand better than I did before when I never had to struggle with this. I hope to learn a lot more in the second half of my journey, from fat 2 fit.


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