The Diet Mentality of our society says that the way to be externally acceptable is to have breast augmentation, liposuction, no noticeable body fat, and a million dollars. It is not only unrealistic and unnatural, but it is also unhealthful. Ah, but the Drill Sgt. in you doesn’t really care, because the most important thing to him is meeting your needs for security and acceptance. And he believes that those needs must be met outside of yourself and can only be met when you have total acceptance and approval from everyone. He’ll worry about your quality of life and your health and wellness later. Right! Any of you who have been playing the Diet Mentality game for long will know that “later” never comes. From the Drill Sgt.’s perspective, there is always something more that you need to change/do/be in order to secure your place in the world. The only way the Drill Sgt. knows how to do this is to continue to pressure you to look a certain way so that you will finally get the approval and sense of security in the world that you so desperately seek.
What we are talking about here is called the “External Locus of Control”. The External Locus of Control (ELOC) simply means that the power over your life and what happens in it comes from outside of you. Let’s consider the ELOC as something that you rate on a percentage scale. A very high ELOC means that 75 to 100% of what you do, think, and feel in your life is dictated by other people. If someone else thinks you should look a certain way or do a certain something, you immediately begin to question what you previously thought and felt was right for you. And it isn’t just one or two people that you feel dominated by — it’s everyone. When you have a high ELOC, you are constantly looking outside yourself for feedback about how to be, what you should do, and how acceptable you are. There are many problems with this, but it all boils down to the fact that your life is not in your hands. You are completely dependent on the moods and mental well-being of every individual you come into contact with. Therefore, you could never, not in a million years, feel secure. Your approach to meeting your needs for security and approval is consistently undermining your true potential to meet those needs now.
The point here is that, if anyone outside of you appears anything less than blissfully happy or has a contrary opinion to you, you will take this on and make it about some failing on your part. You will buy into your internal story or perhaps even their story that you have done something wrong or that your thinking is wrong. This leads to more external approval-seeking, more tuning out to what is true for you, and a reinforcement of the old belief that your authentic thoughts and feelings are unacceptable and should be kept well hidden.
You are no more responsible for the needs, feelings and behaviors of others than you are for the weather. And freeing yourself from that old, bogus double standard is truly as simple as making a commitment to no longer take responsibility for the feelings and needs of others (barring dependent children). Whenever the Drill Sgt. tries to tell you that your need for security or approval hangs in the balance because someone didn’t smile at you, ask him this: “Are you willing to encourage me to take equal responsibility for the good things that happen around me? If not, I can’t possibly be responsible for the bad!”
Excerpted from Food is Not the Problem: Deal With What Is! Pick up your copy today!