Summary by Robyn Bloom – Part 2: Beyond What’s Broken

The following Summary of Geneen's second live call was written by Robyn Bloom, a student in the Online Course who created exceptional Summaries of Geneen’s work regularly. Please note that while you may read it here on your private Student blog, you may not copy it or share it with others.

Summary Notes by Robyn Bloom

Welcome by Geneen Roth

The very first thing I want to do is to welcome you again to the second session of the Online-Retreat. I want to acknowledge you for the strong longing within you that desires to realize and fulfill something deep within yourself.

I am honored that you have chosen to do this work with me. I know what it takes to sign-up, show up, and to be here now. The resistance can be very great.

Acknowledge that you did that much for yourself.

Meditation Practice

Let’s start with a Guided Meditation to return to your body.

Let’s begin to really arrive here, now. As a way of arriving we are going to take a few moments to breathe and settle ourselves so that you can be more present and absorb more of the call. The mind is always trying to figure things out, ricocheting from the past to the future and back again. In order to settle we have to bring ourselves into this moment. So start settling into yourself and begin noticing.

Notice what is around you.

Begin by orienting yourself. Looking around the room you are sitting in, noticing and taking in what is around you. Look from side to side, up and down, left to right. No mater where you are, every day, it is so important to take 15 or 20 minutes, if you can, or even just a few moments at least to settle into yourself. You can think of yourself as a bird, un-ruffling your feathers, spreading out your wings; then settling into yourself.>

Bring some awareness to the fact that the earth is holding you up, whether you are sitting on a chair, lying on a bed, sitting on a couch or on the floor, become aware that something is effortlessly holding you up.

Start to notice and locate your body.

Now, be aware of your feet. Where are they making contact with the ground if you are on a chair, or where they are making contact with the bed? Keep trying to arrive exactly where you are. If your mind is racing or wandering, just notice it. You do not have to take your thoughts too seriously or be pulled away by them. The thoughts will just keep coming, so let them pass like clouds in the sky. You are arriving here, where you are right now. That is all you are doing.

Most of us spend time in the past or future, telling stories about what will happen “if”. But what we are doing right now is arriving; we are all in the same location. The location we find ourselves right now is in our precious bodies. We need our bodies to taste, touch and feel and yet we spend so little time in them.

Now, be aware of where you are and bring your attention in closer to the body that you are located in. Be aware of the point of contact your body has with the world. Become aware of the edges of your body and where they are making contact. Where are the surfaces of your body that touch what is outside of it? Become aware of that.

Become aware of your breath as you notice your body.

Now bring your attention in a little closer still.

Bring your attention to the source of your breath, the sensations of your body itself, this breathing organism.

Become aware of your feet. Wiggle them around a little bit. Become aware of the sensations in your feet. Are there sensations of tingling, throbbing or warmth?>

Become aware of your calves, between your shins. Notice if there is flow, or warmth, tingling or vibration in your legs. There is nothing else to do right now but to notice. We will get to everything else later, but right now enjoy the luxury of being in your body. Because all cues of hunger and fullness come from the body. It is necessary to become aware of the body in a new way.

Now, bring your attention upwards to your knees to your thighs. Notice your thighs from the inside. No judgment, just notice your thighs.

Now start to move your thoughts all the way up through your hips, up to your shoulders, down your arms, to your hands. Wiggle your hands around. These are your hands that touch, feel and sense. What is it like to be in those hands?>

Notice the wrists. Notice the elbows all the way up through the arm. If your mind is going wild, if you are bored, distracted, looking at your computer, checking your Facebook, your e-mail, reading a book, just notice that. Notice how difficult it is to pay attention.

If it is hard for you to pay attention to yourself, one of the eating guidelines, “Eat without distractions” is going to be hard.

Move your attention like a beam of light up your shoulder and down to your belly. The belly is a part of our bodies that we judge and wish could disappear. According to eastern tradition, the belly is our energetic center of our life force, the hara. Notice the belly moving up and down. Place your palms on your belly, cup your hands so they are lined up with your navel and just feel the movement of your belly and the breath. This precious life, this breath, that connects you with life, feel the movement of it.

Notice how all this effects you, taking a few minutes to arrive and settle. Notice how you felt when we started and how you feel now. We consider this kind of time a luxury but really I consider it a necessity, to be where we are. If your eyes have closed, slowly open them. If they are open, widen them.

Orientate yourself with 80% of your attention inward and 20% of your attention outward.

Notice your surroundings again and notice if you can stay with 80% of your attention on what is happening in your body and 20% attention on everything outside of your body, listening, taking things in. The 80/20 equation is 80% attention inside, 20% outside. We usually are 99% outside and a tiny bit of attention inside.

Notice what your experience has been the last couple of minutes, do not judge it, just notice it. Notice if you are antsy or impatient, just notice what is going on. Good, good.

Brief Recap From Part 1: "Ending Your War With Food"

Tonight’s topic is title “Beyond What’s Broken”. But first I want to review what we discussed last week.

Our moderator, Cheryl is also our stand-in student. She is doing the retreat with us.

Cheryl: Thank you for leading that process, it was really beautiful. I really want to use this retreat to improve my relationship with food. I got the experience a few times this week of understanding how I could use food as a doorway to myself.

I noticed two things about my relationship with food. First, I noticed that I rarely eat when I am really hungry. When I stopped and took the time to notice when I was really hungry I would eat an hour or two after I woke up. I waited until I felt hunger in my body. Two things stunned me; I rarely eat when I am hungry and I eat a lot more food than I really need.

Geneen: Your experience describes so many people’s experience. You need a lot less food and you said you were eating according to some kind of plan, but not exactly when you were hungry.

A lot of the questions we received this week related to making the guidelines into “rules”. Over the years, I have tried to come up with another word; instruction, practice, process. But there is no way to say this in a way that keeps the mind from turning it into a rule, if that is what you are inclined to do.

So, let’s call it “if the heart could speak”. If your heart could speak what would it say? It might say “Sweetheart, eat when you are hungry.”>

Hunger is the Cue to be Able to Decipher What to Eat

If you do not wait until you are hungry as a cue to start eating, how could there be a cue to stop eating? Hunger is that cue. If love could talk to you it would say, “Eat when you are hungry.”>

You Are the Expert

That said, when you start following that guideline a lot of feelings will come up. By beginning to try and listen to your hunger, other feelings will come up. If you have been using food to push away your feelings the hunger will bring lots of things. Feelings like “Is it OK for me to trust myself?” “Is it OK to wake up at eight and not eat until ten because if the “experts” tell me otherwise, how and why should I trust myself?” Well, the experts have not been inside your body and cannot know what is right for you.

Remember, you are making a commitment to yourself. Last week we talked about asking yourself “How do I want to live?” Once you realize you want to get your life back then, you have to decide what you want and recommit to yourself on a daily basis. It is something you have to keep deciding, over and over, day after day. Whatever that experience is, it comes down to re-deciding every day what that is. I’m going to eat when I’m hungry. That can be kind of scary.

Cheryl: I noticed that certain emotions would come up. Anger and frustration. I would notice and try not to bolt, but sit with it, just be with. I loved what you said, about trying once a day to be with your hunger and understand what it is. And if that is too hard, try every other day.

Noticing Hunger

I noticed the difference between mouth hunger and head hunger. I loved the distinction you make between the two, body hunger and mouth hunger. It was a whole experience to feel hunger.

Geneen: Eat what your body wants. We will go into that particular guideline another time. But what you are pointing out is the two different kinds of hunger, mouth and body. Body is much more connected to what will nourish the body. And when you tell yourself to eat when you are hungry you can begin to really listen to your body.

Then, the next step will be to ask yourself: What do you want to eat.” If you have been eating according to any kind of program or diet, what will come up in response to this question are probably the kinds of food that you have restricted yourself from. This is mind hunger.

People will say, “I am hungry and I want sugar.” Probably, if you really listen, the body will not tell you to eat that. The body wants to be energized, nourished and sustained. It takes some degree of discernment to find out what your body wants.

Cheryl: I am starting to see my beliefs about life from the food. This week doing the practice I discovered something about myself. I grew up in a family of nine children. And, as I eat, I noticed I would speed up with my eating half way through each meal. And I found myself thinking I better keep eating even if I am full, because maybe there will not be enough.

Geneen: Any belief you have expresses itself not just with food; it expresses itself in many other areas of your life.

This Week's Online-Retreat Part #2: "Beyond What's Broken: Becoming Whole Again"

Examining How Your Beliefs Become Action

A thought that you have had tens of thousands of times will lead to feelings. Feelings lead to behavior. Your thoughts and beliefs drive your action and behavior. We have to begin to understand what is under the beliefs before we can change the behavior.

Thoughts such as “Of course there is not enough to go around,” “Of course I can’t take the time to eat by myself because that is self indulgent”, “in order to be loved I have to be giving”, “I am selfish if I take time for myself” are clues to your beliefs and need to be examined. If you have these beliefs, you will eat by the refrigerator, standing up, in a hurry or in the car, precisely because you are not taking the time for yourself.

It might have come up in the meditation. Is there a belief that I need to be learning, accomplishing, fixing, and changing so people will love me? Or a belief that if I rest, or slow down, and act selfishly then people won’t love me? This is a web of fears. By noticing, we get to see how we act and trace our actions back to what we believe.

The description of tonight is “Beyond What’s Broken.” I realize, based on your questions, that before I can address this, I want to take a step back.

We are Born with Fineness and a Deep Need to be Loved and Accepted

Firstly, every single one of ourselves, without exception, was born with a sense of fineness. We are perfect the moment we are born, just the way we are.

As we develop, learn and grow, we find there are certain ways we get love and certain ways we get rejected. Our thoughts, when spoken, are met with approval or disapproval, acceptance or shame. We imbibe a sense of ourselves, we construct an identity, our self-image, from what is loveable and what is not loveable.

The parts of ourselves that are paid attention to develop, the parts not paid attention to do not. So, by the time we are four or five years old, we have developed a sense of self, an ego that understands what leads to love and what leads to rejection.

Recognizing “The Voice” And What It Is Telling You

The reason it is so difficult to accept and know ourselves is because of this developmental piece I call “The Voice”. “The Voice” is the piece of our personality that is watching us, accessing us, judging us, and deeming what is right or wrong.

You may hear your Voice speaking to you. It is the part of you that is asking: “How could it possibly be that doing this could work can bring a permanent change when you have tried and failed so many times?” It might tell you “I am hopeless” or “I am a failure.” “Why am I doing this, I should have known it wouldn’t work.” “Why should I even try?” Recognize the voice in yourself.

Recognizing “The Voice” and How You Can Effect Change

We must address this part of ourselves if we want to make a change. We begin by recognizing “The Voice,” or the critic, and begin naming it for what it is. Until we do, it will never be possible to change. Until we name and disengage from the part of ourselves that tells us what cannot do, we cannot change.

Everyone has “The Voice.” It is a developmental necessity. It is inevitable. It is there by the time we are four years old.

In order to live the life we are yearning to live, we must recognize and then disengage with this old Voice.

When I realized how under the influence I was of this Voice telling me all kinds of things from the moment I would wake-up in the morning “Oh it’s just another day. What makes you think you can have what you want? Why should today be any different? You can’t do anything right. How do you think you can possibly eat what you want? Oh, and those fat thighs.” Do you recognize it?>

Listening to “The Voice” and Its Many Judgements

Consider the judgments you have had about yourself in the past 15 minutes or an hour. If that is too short, how about from when you woke up this morning, your last meal, the one before that. Now, become aware of five judgments you have made about your self. Take a moment.

The judgments could be about your body size, your eyes, your hair, your toenails, or your relationship with your partner. The Voice also talks about other people, but for right now we re talking about how The Voice talks to you about yourself.

Now, become aware of the tone The Voice takes. How does it talk to you? Try hearing and understanding the tone “The Voice” speaks to you in.

It might say: “Look at you, you failure, you good for nothing, you lazy self-indulgent creep, You thought you could do this. What is the matter with you?” After a meal The Voice might say: “You did that, and I thought you weren’t going to do that again. How many times are you going to try and fail before you just give it up? It’s disgusting and repulsive. You are disgusting and repulsive.”. That is the potentially vicious tone of The Voice.

I realized, as I looked at the questions that came in, that I could not talk about what is not broken until you can recognize and change The Voice because the purpose of that Voice is to keep you from changing. The Voice wants to protect the status quo, whether that is compulsive eating or something else. And I know if you are here and listening right now, you want to make a change.

Unless you become aware of The Voice, when you try to change, that Voice will stun you. Its purpose is to keep all transformation from happening. It developed as a protective measure. The Voice protects children, we learned not to run into traffic, put our hand on to a hot stove, and how to fit into the culture that we have been brought into. Our parents were our first teachers, but then all other external authorities became part of The Voice. It is a compilation of authority figures and cultural norms. It worked for a long time. It is biologically adaptive.

Changing “The Voice”

But as we get older we have something better. We have our own inner moral and spiritual compass.

The Voice has one message. It is: “There is one way to do this and you are doing it wrong”. But that is not the whole story.

The Voice will takes an objective truth like, “Oh, I have gained 20 pounds over the past year “ and blend it with moral judgment, and suddenly you are a failure. Now you are ashamed, a loser, or someone who never gets it right.

How Do You Know You Are Under the Influence of “The Voice?”

Step One: Naming “The Voice”

The first step is to name it. Here is your first clue: When you start to feel small, weak, ashamed, needy, desperate, like you are never going to get it right, like you need an answer immediately, because the discomfort is so great, these are your clues that what you are hearing is The Voice. Most of us are so identified with The Voice that we do not even realize there is a me and a “Voice.. We do not realize it is possible to separate from The Voice.

Sometimes, I am so blended with my Voice that I do not even hear what it is saying. Then suddenly I feel like I just have come to the edge of a cliff and fallen off. I am lying in a heap at the bottom and I hate myself, I hate my life. I feel small and incapable. I need a big thing - food perhaps, a big person, a big adult - to get me thorough it.

It’s not something someone else said to me, it’s something I said to myself that made me feel small or collapsed. I think I have made so many wrong decisions and now I am wrong. Ahhh… The Voice.

Step Two: Disengaging from “The Voice”

Once you have named The Voice you can start to disengage from it.

This happens for many of us in one main way. We start to defend ourselves. We defend against it, we tell it to get away and tell it to stop.

The Voice can take our power and strength. The voice turns against us and we feel small and inadequate. We become so small that we do not have the power to upset the status quo.

The very act of transformation is threatening to the status quo. So, we must know The Voice before we can transform ourselves. Even if you have been working with this idea for many years, you still need to do it. Until you can respond to The Voice with, a simple “Yes, maybe I am the worst most disgusting person in the world,” until there is no reaction. You need to keep working with it. The disengaging part is simply when you just learn to simply stop it and then move on.

One of my retreat assistants had a sign on her mirror. It said, “When in doubt defend.” Learning to defend against the viciousness of The Voice by telling it to “go away,” “Stop,”, or “You are not my friend” will allow you to disengage.

She said more vociferous things because her version of the voice was so hostile. She literally told it to>

F-ck off. Loudly.

Do anything it takes to stop the barrage of attack, the meanness, the viciousness of voice. The Voice cuts you off at the knees so you don’t have far to fall. It cuts you off before someone else can. If you have done that to yourself then you don’t have far to fall.

So, remember, the first step in recognizing The Voice is to realize when you start to feel small, collapsed, defeated or young. When you do not know what happened - physically or energetically - ask yourself what is going on.

Some of you will feel it immediately as a voice of shame. When things are labeled as good or bad, The Voice is present directing your experience. When you become aware of that Voice it will be very compelling. You might feel scared. You might ask: How am I going to know what to eat, what to do?”>

That relentless insistence of right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, should vs. shouldn’t. We have been attached to that Voice for so long that we cannot imagine life without it. The clarity that is our own is usurped by The Voice.

Cheryl, as a representative of the audience of participants in this Online-Retreat, does that make sense?>

Cheryl: The Voice plays a role in our relationship with food, but comes up in so many other places in our life.

Geneen: It is related to the eating directly.

Cheryl: That makes me think about one of the questions we received. She was certain she was the only one that did not have a metamorphosis after Session One.

Geneen: Fear, deficiency and empty programming is adhered to The Voice. It does not matter if lots of people did or did not have a metamorphosis after session one. What does matter is your experience.

Hopelessness is coming from The Voice. It is saying “Shame, shame, shame,” or “Bad, bad, bad,” or “You are going to die a failure, you idiot.”>

Anytime there is a sense of shame, you can stop it by becoming aware of The Voice and then disengaging from it. If we choose to believe what The Voice is saying, we are blended or merged with it, and there is no chance to change because we are already collapsed. When we are collapsed there is nowhere to go.

An Exercise To Hear Your Voice

Try writing a dialogue with The Voice. Write down what it says or speak it out loud. “You idiot. You failure. What is wrong with you?” Recognize there are two voices there: the "I" and the “You”.

Question: What if I never get to the place where I do not love myself enough to stop hurting myself with food? What if I never lose The Voice? What if it is saying: “What makes you think you are going to get there? You should know better than that.?>

Answer: You are asking these questions from a very small place. Of course, with that Voice around, how could you do it?

Cheryl: I have been trying this for twenty years and this is just another plan that I am going to screw up.

Geneen: Yes. Yes. This is an example about how tricky The Voice is. There is a feeling of collapse already.” It’s just too hard. You have already tried this. What makes you think you can do this?”>

Now, respond to The Voice. Tell it to “Stop talking to me like that!”>

Why would you let yourself speak to you like that but not anyone else in the world? We talk to ourselves 24/7 with such meanness and vitriol. It is crucial that we learn to stop the meanness of The Voice.

Question: How do you continue to live the way you want after the newness wears off?>

Answer: Remember, this is not a decision you make once. It’s not like you can think, “This makes a lot of sense, and now I understand and it will change.” You have to make this decision every single day. You have to recommit yourself to this decision, everyday. When it seems hard, remember you are already exhausted and in great discomfort with what is happening in your life right now.

Change Requires Some Degree of Discomfort

Doing something new requires a commitment on your part.

You are establishing new pathways in the brain. It is possible to change, but change requires some degree of discomfort.

The old familiar way may not even register as discomfort anymore, because the pathways are well greased and they have been traveled hundreds of times. They are padded down. To create a new path, in the beginning, is a lot of work and at the very least a little uncomfortable.

Tolerate some degree of discomfort, and remind yourself why you are doing this. Remember to ask yourself, “What do you I want more than anything?” That’s another way of asking yourself: “What do I want my life to be about?”>

I think you want your life back more than you want to be comfortable in any given moment. Eventually this will become habitual, but remember, being effortless takes great effort.

Remember to Stay with Yourself

Make the decision each moment and recommit each time. There will be moments that you will want to eat when you are not hungry. And whether or not you eat then, you will make a decision to stay with yourself.

Remember the big longing here; that working with my relationship with food is the way back to yourself. Our relationship with food is the way we really get to figure out what we really want. That is why the world is on our plate.

It is something we decide, and re-decide on a daily, or even hourly basis. Every time you turn to food you are deciding something. You are always deciding something. The question is do you want to be conscious about what you are deciding.


This week, our Practice is Living “As if.” It is one practice with two prongs.

“As If” Prong #1:


Live this week “as if” you are worth your own time.

Live “as if” you liked your own body.

Live “as if” you valued your time.

This is a direct, day-to-day Practice.

Ask yourself: “How would I eat (or do anything for that matter), if I was worthy of my own attention, living “as if” I liked myself?”>

“As If” Prong #2:


The second prong of “As If” is…

“If love could speak instructions.”

Eat sitting down, in a calm environment.

This does not include the car.

If you were living “as if” you were worth your own time and attention, you would not eat standing up, or eating on your way from the stove to the table. Eat “as if” you are worth your own time, attention, love and care.

Both of these Practices are related to The Voice. The Voice is going to make itself known, so as it does, name and disengage from The Voice.

RECAP: This weeks Practices:

1) Ask yourself: “How would I eat (or do anything for that matter), if I was worthy of my own attention, living “as if” I liked myself?”

2) Eat sitting down, in a calm, quiet atmosphere. Eat “as if” you are worth your own time, attention, love and care.


I want to acknowledge everyone for showing up and staying with us.

What we are talking about, exploring, and questioning is very difficult. The uncertainty and the possibilities come up.

But, I know for a fact that transformation is possible. Understanding, unwinding and living close to yourself is your birthright, and I know you deserve that.

Thank you for being with us tonight.

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Except as noted, all contents of this Geneen Roth Online Course is Copyright Geneen Roth 2013 and is for the sole use of Online Course students. All content on this blog requires express permission from Geneen Roth & Associates Inc. for reuse, display, republication or resale.

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