All weight problems are simply a reflection of a lack of balance within. That’s all. Emotionally and physically you’re out of balance. Your priorities are skewed and they need to be tweaked so that you really embody the belief that your needs and your health are the most important things in your world.
Now, rather than feeling “outed” by this statement and that everyone you meet is going to “know” you’re out of balance, could you allow yourself instead to just accept the truth of it? Instead of trying to protect yourself from the truth of your lack of balance, how about asking the question: “What’s the fastest, most effective and lasting solution to this problem?”
Think of it like this: if you’re not healthy and balanced physically and emotionally, everything in your life, including you, suffers in a big way. Maybe you’re not as active as you would like to be, you’re a little more down than you otherwise would be, or you feel overwhelmed, leading you to feel a little more reclusive than you otherwise would be – thus you miss out on many opportunities for play and to deepen your relationships with others. It makes sense, because you’re not feeling great about yourself, you’re a little more sensitive to the comments and gestures of others which results in more hurt feelings, more arguments and greater strife in your primary relationships. But it doesn’t have to be this way at all. There is a very simple solution.
I remember a statistic I read some time ago and which most of you have likely heard too: Most people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death. Yes, public speaking is the #1 fear among humans while death ranks somewhere around 7th. Even the fear of eating in public or signing one’s name in public triggers more fear, it seems, than the experience of taking our last breath.
What shocks me, frankly, is how willing most people are to just accept this; to explore tools to “manage” their anxiety; to fake it till they make it, etc. These approaches will all help, yes, but…they aren’t cures. Why aren’t more people interested in, or better yet, committed to, finding a cure for their fear? Why are so many people so willing to just accept their current limitations without exploring where they came from and without being open to the possibility that they can have a life that is completely free of them?
The same question applies to your preoccupation with food and body image and to your use of food to cope, whether through binging, purging or restricting. Why are you so willing to settle for symptom management, e.g., medications, alcohol, drugs, diets, exercise plans, isolation, procrastination and co-dependence? None of these approaches cure anything. They don’t answer the question, “why?” And they don’t give you an answer to the real cause of the problem so that you can resolve the underlying trigger and thus not have any further need of any of those symptom management strategies (also called “coping strategies”).
Your preoccupation with other people’s feelings; other people’s judgements and perceptions of you; and other people’s needs is the pattern of behaviour that does the most harm.
Think about it. Think about why you don’t go certain places or do certain things (like traveling, like the gym, like a movie, like a certain restaurant, like asking that special someone out, or confronting that special someone about something that hurts your feelings or upsets you, etc.). Think about why you wear this dress or shirt instead of that one. Ask yourself why you aren’t pursuing the career of your dreams. Doesn’t it all stem back to what you think other people will think or say or do? In essence this is a version of the #1 fear: public speaking. You don’t do, think, feel or say what you’d authentically like to because of what others might think, feel, do and say in response; because you place more importance, more value, on their judgement than on your own.
Obviously the solution lies in getting to the root of why you care so much about the opinions of others that you aren’t living your very precious, finite life to the fullest.
I used to struggle every moment of every day, preoccupied with judgement from others. It caused me great anxiety and led me to make very harmful choices (ie. Not breaking up with someone when I knew they weren’t right for me just so they or others wouldn’t be mad or judge me. Not going to the gym (or exercising) until I was closer to a natural weight for my body so no one would judge me for being fat. Eating when I wasn’t hungry, to soothe my feelings of fear and sadness and anger. Not speaking up for myself in relationships with colleagues, bosses, family members, etc., because I didn’t want them to be angry – thus allowing them to mistreat me or to form incorrect assumptions about what I liked or disliked, leading to a greater sense of estrangement and judgment).
In order to reclaim my life and stop living simply to avoid the judgement of others, I used to play the following head game with myself: I’d imagine that something had happened and that, for now, I was the only person alive on earth. There was no one around. No one could possibly see me or pass judgement on me. Then I’d ask myself, “Given these circumstances, what would I be doing right now? How would I be dressing? What would I be thinking, feeling? Where would I go? How would I be walking, sitting? What would my posture be like? What would I do for a living?”
Once I got settled into my “last-person-on-earth” headspace, I’d add people in again and challenge myself to behave as I would if no one were there even though there were people all around. It was a fabulous exercise to help me identify what my authentic expression of myself in that moment would be and to challenge myself to be more authentic in every moment of my life.
This is simply another symptom management tool of course, but it brings you closer to the real you, and reveals much about the barriers you construct in your own life.
Exploring the Fear of Judgement
True freedom lies in identifying the root of your external preoccupation and bringing the focus of your life and your decisions back, firmly, to your feelings and needs in any moment.
This is my area of expertise. In a handful of sessions I can show you what is standing in the way of you feeling truly free to live your life to the fullest in all areas and give you a clear and simple set of tools to turn your life and any harmful behaviours (food and body preoccupation) completely around.
I welcome the opportunity to support you in one-on-one therapy or at one of my transformative workshops. And if you’d rather explore this process independently, I encourage you to purchase my book, Food is not the Problem: Deal With What Is for a complete recovery program at your fingertips.
Have a great day being the only person on earth!