I’m not one to generalize, because I think the journey from “being over weight” to “getting healthy” is a very personal one, and we each walk our own path through it and it takes as long as it takes. However, being part of a group like Weight Watchers for such a long time, and being observant and introspective does lead me to notice some interesting commonalities amongst folks who Choose Food to Soothe.
One of those uncanny observations is that those of us who tend to turn to food for comfort or celebration, for that matter, often tend to have an Inner Voice problem. No, we do not actually hear food talking to us, although it does sometimes “call to us”. An Inner Voice problem means we have a defective Inner Voice. So what is an Inner Voice? Well, it’s that little voice that lives in the back of your mind that feeds you your daily affirmations. An affirmation is like a declaration of what is true about you. So, your Inner Voice is the part of your subconscious mind that feeds your self-esteem, feeds your beliefs with little facts about who you are, and it talks to you all day long. It tells you who you are, what you are capable of, what you are worth, that you are good (or not), that you are worthy (or not), that you are loveable…….er, oh yea…..or not. Hmmm, so THAT’s where that belief came from.
So, how does an Inner Voice become defective? Well, first let me say that I don’t really know. But I can imagine it, and it’s those imaginings that I’m going to share so you can go off and imagine your own circumstances. First off, I don’t believe any of us were born broken. Nope, you didn’t inherit a broken Inner Voice from your Mom or your Dad. And I doubt that it happened all at once. I think slowly and over a long series of days to weeks to months to years, the Inner Voice began to transform from a voice that used to giggle about your freckles and talk to you about how great you were at jump rope — into one who calls you a stupid loser because you ate 6 cupcakes and (for some reason) didn’t feel like you could stop.
Aside from the days I committed to the WW program and regular exercise, the other most important day in my life was THE day I heard my Inner Voice and I was AWAKE enough to notice WHAT it was saying. It was during a period when I was gaining and losing the same 2 pounds for about 3 months, and I was bouncing between being sad about it and hating myself for it. What? Did? You? Just? Say? Diane? Hating yourself because you gained a couple of pounds? Yeah. That’s what my inner voice said to me. I sat there in the third row of my Weight Watchers meeting, not my usual self. I (Diane) was quiet because my Inner Voice was screaming at me. Calling me every name in the book, and telling me how much of a loser I was and…well…..the words don’t really matter. What does matter is that something was said that day that made me HEAR the voice. I don’t remember the something — and it wasn’t like I had never heard about Positive Affirmation before. I just got up the nerve to ask myself — Who is that talking to me? Why does it say such mean things to me? And how do I get it to shut the hell up? And Voila — Silence. It stopped. Just for a moment. Long enough for me to realize in that silent space of time that I had had enough! I had to learn how to tame the bully that my Inner Voice had become to me.
So here is the bottom line. You can’t silence the Inner Voice. It won’t be silenced. You may be able to quiet it down for a short time, through Yoga or Meditation. But this is a temporary state. The Inner Voice is a necessary part of consciousness. It is a necessary partner of your life. It will help you avoid danger, alert you, trigger your fight or flight instincts. I believe it draws people you are attracted to toward you and keeps you safe by keeping danger away from you.
So if you can’t silence the Inner Voice, then how do I get it to stop saying mean things about me? The good news is that you can control the content of the daily affirmations it feeds you. Go into this process of Fixing your Inner Voice expecting small improvements. Small steps become long journeys if you connect them together. Start by using your conscious mind to create a new image of yourself. One that is a Positive Picture of You Living your New LIfe. I did this by calling myself a Runner. LOL, I was calling myself a runner when the most running I could do was 1 minute spirts in between 2 minutes of walking in Week 1 of C25K. But it doesn’t matter. I WAS A RUNNER! That was the new me. And I wanted my Inner Voice to start telling me, feeding me new facts every day, all day long about how good I was at being a runner. So that’s how I started. And you can start too by creating a new belief about yourself, and working through small steps to make your new life the one you are living. Remember when I fought The HILL. I harnessed the power of my Inner Voice to tell me “This Is Good, this is good, thisisgoodthisisgood….etc. Until climbing that Hill actually became Good.
My best advice is have an expectation for yourself that your Inner Voice should only say to you the kind of things you would say to your best friend. If it is unkind, or mean and you would never say it to someone you love and care about — then don’t allow your Inner Voice to say it to YOU. I’m not saying to walk around telling yourself that you are Halle Berry in a Bikini when you aren’t. What I mean is, if your best friend fell down on her promise to herself to restrain herself in the Christmas Cookie department and she “Lost It” — -Would you call her a loser and a failure and tell her you hate her and how she will never succeed and she might as well quit and ……. ouch, ouch ouch. No, you never would. Instead you would use your most compassionate voice and give her a hug and tell her that she will be Ok. That she will try again, she will get there, and this slip is no big deal, it’s just a step in the learning process. You would comfort her, and encourage her, and love her.
Learn to comfort yourself, and encourage yourself, and love yourself. Turn your Inner Voice into your own soothing, encouraging internal best friend. No self deprecating humor allowed, because that’s just a candy coating around unkind self thoughts. Let it all go. Reprogram your Inner Voice. Change the Tape. Be kind to yourself, and mean it, and let it talk to you all day long. It’s gonna anyway!! LOL
Ciao for now…….Diane