I just got home from my weekly session with my therapist, Janet. There are some sessions that seem to have the sole purpose of listening to how much garbage comes out of your mouth. And this is a good purpose – because when you actually say it out loud in sentences, instead of accepting it as a constant garbled hum in your mind, you see exactly what’s being said and how terrible it really is.
Some samples of beliefs I expressed in the session:
I cannot start learning something new because I will look too pathetic in the early stages.
It doesn’t matter how I look for the rest of my life because I didn’t look how I wanted when I wanted to.
It’s cooler to have friends who like you for your body or skills than for your personality.
I’m too old to ___________.
I can’t have a “normal life” until I ____________.
Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiggggghhhhhhhh. Miserable just to read, forget live with everyday.
So, I found myself saying some of these things as if I were expecting my therapist to give me 8,000 “oh, sweetie, of course not”s. As if that would just knock those silly thoughts right out of my head, for good, banished, as if they had never affected me.
But… When you’ve read as many amazing, beautiful books as I have, listened to as many brilliant speakers, done workshops and retreats.. You have to realize that it’s not about someone telling you the right thing enough times. Of course, hearing the right thing at the right time can be very helpful, and can sometimes make the difference. But as for long-term change, that is going to be based on YOU putting in consistent effort towards owning up to your true beliefs and making a conscious decision about continuing to endorse them or not. You don’t get to say you believe there are things much more important than being thin, act as if you believe the opposite, and then lament that you continue to have eating issues. If you are acting as if being thin is what matters most, this requires inquiry; denial will only lead to going through the motions of someone who believes there are more important things, and sooner or later collapsing into the underlying belief with self-hatred and likely bingeing. As usual, the problem there would not be the bingeing, which is always the side effect, but rather, it would be the failure to acknowledge that the damaging underlying belief is still reigning.
When you’ve got a damaging belief in charge, you must ask yourself what the benefit is of continuing to hold the belief.
So let’s see: Why would I want to continue to believe that you cannot be truly loved or wanted unless you are thin?
When I imagine dressing and acting as if my acceptability is not dependent on my weight, I sense a fear basically that others will mentally laugh at me for “trying to be” cute or normal or sexy or feminine when clearly I am not (because I am not thin). So at least 2 things are implied here: Cute, normal, sexy, feminine = thin, and, I am afraid of others judging me as a failure, trying to be something I’m not.
Again, at this point, you might imagine kind others and the better part of yourself saying, “oh, you know those things are not true. You don’t have to be thin to be those things, don’t worry about what others think.” But it takes more than that. You already know the truth here – the question is why you are not willing to live it out. For me, I think it is that fear of mockery, exclusion..
And at that point, I must ask myself: Okay. Is avoiding that hypothetical mockery and exclusion worth feeling bad about food and my body for the rest of my life? Is being safe worth losing the life I really want?
After high school’s over, who would really want to be around anyone who would meanly mock someone in real life? When you’re not a trapped kid anymore, you can realize that people who make fun of other people like that will likely make fun of you too sooner or later, and you can choose to find people who are not like that, who actually enjoy each other. It’s not a matter of not being cool, it’s a matter of not being desperate. You only feel like you need to be “cool” or “sexy” more than you need anything else, when you don’t really feel like you have anything else. Hence the other old well-known fact, when people insult you it’s all about them. Only someone who feels they have no value other than their looks would make fun of a woman dressing as she likes at any size.
So don’t just wait for the things you already know to eventually “click,” after the next book, blog post, workshop, streak of “doing a good job.” It’s deeper than that. We’re talking subconscious, OLD, deep beliefs that are wired with fear. They require active, continuous confrontation, and ultimately a decision about what’s worth believing.
Re-program yourself for the greatness you want to live now and for the rest of your life.