You know that precious time in the morning when you lie in bed or you’re brushing your teeth or in the shower and you start to feel excited and energized about the fantasy you’re having about how much you’re going to exercise (later that day, and every day thereafter), or how much you are or aren’t going to eat that day (and every day after)?
You know, those moments when you know what you need to do to be the physical form you want to be, and therefore (in your head anyway…) to be happy finally, once and for all. Only problem is, if nothing has changed in your schedule and your inner thought process and self-regard since yesterday, all you are doing when you engage in those fantasies is setting yourself up to take a brutal beating from your Drill Sgt. when you crawl in to bed at the end of the day.
Think about it. If you weren’t able to find the time or the energy or the positive self-regard to make honoring choices about what you ate, whether or not and how much you exercised, and whom you spent time with and how you spent it yesterday, why on earth would today be any different? Unless you’ve actively changed your schedule and set reasonable goals based on the reality of how much energy you’ll have at the end of the day; learned to set boundaries about what you do and with whom (both at work and at home); committed to and gained skills for eating naturally (eat when hungry, stop when comfortably full)….why would anything be any different from yesterday?
Yesterday you wanted to be healthier. Yesterday you wanted to exercise. Yesterday you wanted to talk to so and so about such and such. Nothing has changed in your goals from yesterday to today. So if nothing has changed in your expectations of yourself but you weren’t able to honor them yesterday, you really are beating your head against a brick wall to continue to expect that of yourself today. It’s self-harm on a major scale to continue to expect something of yourself that you aren’t yet able to do consistently without changing your approach and gaining some new skills.
If this sounds like you, it’s time to stop. This is the old, Drill Sgt., irrational, motivation through criticism approach to healing and it hasn’t worked in your entire life so far, so it’s not going to work now. Accept it, let it go and actively seek a solution that does work. What would that be you ask?
Well, what does work is to take a look at what you are expecting of yourself on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis in all areas of your life: primary relationship, kids (if you have them), family, friends, work, volunteer, school (classes/crafts, etc.), and your relationship with yourself. What is it that your Drill Sgt. tells you you should be doing in each of those areas in order to finally be acceptable, loved, safe, and happy (oh, and don’t forget drop-dead sexy!).
Now stop for a moment and look at what you’ve written. How many hours in a day would you need to fulfill those commitments as your Drill Sgt. says you should in order to finally be “good enough?” 30? 50?…. When exactly are you supposed to get that perfect 8+ hours of sleep he expects of you?…Right.
Now what if you just stopped, breathed, really – stop and breathe – be here, now, with me. Notice what you are telling yourself right here in this moment about yourself, about your expectations, about how there’s no point doing this exercise…etc.
Take a moment and write out all the stories you’re telling yourself right now – even the one about how you don’t have time to write out all the stories you’re telling yourself …
Now, at the end of each story add the words “and that means.” Now see what pops into your head. Keep adding “and that means” to the end of each statement until you feel like there really is no further to go. Chances are you’ve just hit the jackpot of all-or-nothing thinking. Go on, try it. If you’re reading this article it’s because you recognize you need a hand in getting to a peaceful and easy relationship with food and with your body. Why bother reading the article and acknowledging you need help if you’re not going to try and do anything new? Usually, the answer to that question sounds something like: “Because I don’t’ really think I can change or that I will be successful…it’s better to not try because if I try and fail I’ll feel like crap – at least now I can still imagine it can work…”
Of course the only problem with that is that it’s not true! Nothing changes when you keep doing the same old same old. Our clients know firsthand that everything changes for the better, and quickly too, when they just say, “Enough already! I’ve got to do something!” and they reach out to us for some guidance, support and tools.
If you’re tired of the morning fantasy that turns to evening self-abuse, start now to write out the process above and give yourself the gift of seeing firsthand what you’re expecting of yourself. Then ask yourself: Within the context of a balanced life, where I have time for my self-care (and energy to follow through on eating well and exercising moderately), what is reasonable to expect of myself in each of the key areas of my life?
Do that for this week – let me know what comes up – and next week, we’ll talk about how to put that awareness into action.
Always remember, this process isn’t hard. It’s simple. What makes it seem hard is all the time you have spent shaming and berating yourself for not being perfect and the automatic default to bad body thoughts and the use of food to cope that ensues when we feel criticized and “not good enough.” It’s time to learn how to step free of the inner power struggle and start living.
Have a great week. Do your best with this piece. It will be worth your while.
Whether you prefer one-on-one counselling (in-person, by phone, or email), our intensive and transformative workshops, the self-help approach with the book, or our Food is Not the Problem Online Membership Program, take action today to have a stress-free relationship with food. Sign up for our free newsletter today (see the left top side of your screen). Newsletter subscribers receive exclusive product discounts and are first in line to get on all the latest new at CEDRIC.
© Michelle Morand, 2010