The other day I asked someone that oh-so-typical therapist question:
“How do you feel right now?”
I was talking to Don (not his real name) who had lap band surgery, then “beat the band” and gained back almost all the weight he lost. Naturally, he was upset. He also felt a lot of shame.
He said, “I know are people thinking, ‘he just can't keep it off, he has no willpower.'”
He was talking in a very matter-of-fact way about a topic that was clearly painful. That's when I asked The Question:
(the “how do you feel” question)
Don responded, “Well, you feel like nothing is going to work. Like you wasted all that money on surgery and maybe you're just a total loser.”
I asked him to switch to first person, to say “I” instead of referring to himself as “you”.
And it was a whole different story.
He said, “I feel so sad and upset that I just can't get a handle on this.”
He got tearful, his feelings finally spilling out. Don learned the hard way that if you don't figure out “why” you're eating, nothing changes. When he was able to access what was going on, and work through his emotions and conflicts, he stopped using food to cope.
When you talk to yourself in second person, you're talking “at” yourself, often from a critical and judgmental place. Not very nice at all. You're also distancing yourself from your own experience – from what's going on inside.
Want to be nicer to yourself?
Start coming from an “I” place, which gets you more in touch with what you're feeling, and less judgmental. Being nicer makes you feel better and also raises your self-esteem and self-confidence.
Say, “I feel sad” instead of “you're such a loser.”
Say, “I can do this” instead of, ” you can't do this”
When you attend to what's going on inside, when you're nice to yourself, you're less likely use food as a distraction.
And that's how you win the diet war!