From drug and food addiction to a research and academic career to an entrepreneur success story (as in, from 0 to 7 figures in 2 years)
From drug addiction to food addiction, Susan Peirce Thompson plummeted to the darkest of places. However, drawing on a feeling at age 10 that she was destined for something powerful, she’s always been a seeker. She dedicated years of work to inner healing and understanding herself, which led her to find her true destiny. Now, she is a brain scientist, psychology professor, and the founder of Bright Line Eating that helps millions of people with sustainable weight loss.
Meeting an angel in the darkest of places
How did you go from drug addition to getting on the path that has ultimately taken you to where you are now?
I was a seeker.
I did mushrooms when I was 14 and had this really transcendent experience.
I committed in my deepest soul that I was going to do that every chance that I got.
And I did.
I sought alcohol and mushrooms and pot and acid and ecstasy.
I had a weight problem. I didn’t feel comfortable in my body and I didn’t carry my weight proportionately.
I found crystal meth and it is an amazing drug for weight control.
Suddenly I didn’t care about eating.
I did crystal meth for a very long time.
I got very thin and very psychotic, essentially schizophrenia.
I started having scary and complete breaks with reality.
I dropped out of high school.
I got pretty far down with my drug addiction.
I had to get clean and sober, which I did at the age of 20.
Not through any brilliance of my own. By dumb luck and grace.
I got taken to a 12-step meeting by this guy I met at a gas station at 3:00 in the morning – this really cute guy.
The phases of the journey
What was the next phase? How did your journey unfold?
I had to go on another phase of searching for a solution to my food problem.
I was wanting the solution to show up with the same clarity that the solution to drugs and alcohol showed up.
It was not showing up that way.
It was this wishy-washy, confusing, some people do it this way, some people do it that way.
So I went to 12-step food programs over a span of years.
I had momentary success but nothing that lasted.
I went through a lot of pain.
An eight-year stretch of time had me ending 40 pounds heavier than I started.
I intimately got obese through that journey.
I moved to the University of Rochester.
The universe was so clear, “Susan this is your home”.
I could feel my future in the walls.
Within a year I met my husband, six months after that we were married. I became a Bahyai, which is a big part of my spiritual journey. My life was going great.
But my weight was climbing.
My life turned into parallel lives.
I was having all this academic and professional success, my home life was getting really good, and all that success couldn’t seem to transfer over to this food problem.
I watched as food addiction took me to darker places than drug addiction.
Sugar and flour were worse for me than crack ad crystal meth.
They absolutely did take me to a deeper spiritual bottom, to more desperation, to more of a feeling of hopelessness.
A moment in time imprinted in our soul
You said you could feel your future in the walls, how did you feel it, how did you trust it?
There was a moment where I trusted it.
I was at Peter Lennie’s house – he was the Chair of department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
I excused myself to the living room and made a phone call to my dad.
He said words I will never forget.
He’s been such a support to me at different junctures of my journey.
He said “Stand in that living room and close your eyes and soak that feeling of being there. That is all that matters, how you feel being there. You will come home and talk yourself out of it and let your head get in the way. Remember how it feels”.
It was a moment in time imprinted in my soul.
Reclaiming the treasures of our past
How do you tune into your inner voice? In my experience it’s always the quietest voices, because the external voices and the voice of reason always tend to be louder. I need to really tune in deeper, go into a meditation, a prayer, a state of connection with my heart to really hear it.
I meditate for 30-minutes every morning.
The phrase “Bright Line Eating” came to me in meditation on January 26th 2014, as the name of a book title.
It was like a Dictaphone. It was commanding.
The universe put that on my heart.
I tumbled out of my morning meditation and started writing the chapter titles.
I believe that this Bright Line Eating needs to exist in the world and it is just pouring through me.
My whole journey has been priming me for this.
Things that I had written off as failures or meaningless side paths, every little bit of my journey was peppered with these coincidences that led me to where I am now.
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Far better to live your own dharma imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly – Bhagavad Gita
I suffered from clinical depression and anxiety. Now I understand that going into the wounds actually uncovered the path for me.
Before I started Bright Line Eating I was working on myself really hard for 20 years.
I worked the 12-steps 13 times, in five different 12-step programs.
I’ve been to therapy since 6th grade.
I’ve done Byron Katie’s “The Work”.
I have two full-time life coaches.
I am in a couple of different mastermind groups.
I pay through the teeth for support.
I have a process for working on myself.
I know myself so well.
I am ready to be a hollow reed. I am ready to be the instrument, the channel.
I love your message of going toward to wound, going toward whatever’s hurting. Not trying to side step it.
Square your shoulders to it.
That’s where the magic is.
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I don’t know where everyone’s inspiration has come from, but mine has certainly come from really diving into my biggest challenge—addiction.
My own healing around that, my own solution for that, living that experience, now qualifies me to help others.
Often people want to help the world but they are missing the true story that they have to share.
Take that mess, slowly start working on cleaning it, and bring that method to the world.
Aligning with your destiny
Looking back at yourself 20 years ago, could you have predicted your life right now?
20 years ago, no way.
But 30 years, yes.
When I was 10 and I was an actress on stage in San Francisco, I had the feeling that I was destined for something powerful.
I got that feeling back somewhere in my first year of sobriety.
For most of my life I could picture this.
This life that I am living now feels like the most congruent life that I have ever lived.
Connect with Susan Peirce Thompson, PhD and Bright Light Eating:
- Look for the book “Bright Line Eating” coming out in March 2017
- Bright Line mobile app for support, recipes, and tracking bright lines coming out in February 2017
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