Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Other "F" Word

How do you talk to yourself?

Here are some things I've heard this past week:
  • I'm so mad at myself for eating all those brownies.  I'm such a loser.
  • Why can't I get a grip?  What's wrong with me? 
  • I woke up feeling gross after bingeing yesterday.  I'm disgusting.
  • I hate myself.

The way you talk to yourself impacts the way you feel, which in turn influences behavior.  If you're harsh, you'll feel AWFUL - and way more likely to eat for comfort or distraction (just to escape yourself!).

Changing the way you respond to YOU is absolutely key to making peace with food. Here are three crucial steps you can implement right away:

#1 Choose your words carefully

Let's say a friend ate brownies and was really upset.  Imagine telling her (or him), "I can't believe you scarfed down those brownies.  You are such a loser."

Um.... probably not.

So what would you say to a friend?    

For starters, how about, "Eating brownies is not a criminal offense so please don't punish yourself."  

Then I'd wonder, "What was going on with you before you ate those brownies?  What were you feeling?  Thinking?  What would be on your mind if you weren't beating yourself up for having brownies?"

Keep in mind:

Stay curious, not critical.

If you wouldn't say it to a friend or a child, don't say it to yourself.

#2 Acknowledge & Ask Questions

If a friend felt physically gross after a binge, I doubt you'd say, "You have no right to your feelings.  You should just suffer, you loser."

Acknowledgment sounds like,  "I know you're feeling terrible.  You feel sad and defeated and upset. What would make you feel better right now?  

Practice saying this to yourself.   "I feel sad and upset.  What will make me feel better?"

Acknowledging emotions is validating.  Asking questions helps you find answers. 
I promise you, that feels way better than calling yourself names!

Take care with your tone

The same words can feel very different depending on what tone you use.  If you ask, "What do I need right now?" in a warm, caring, interested tone, you'll feel good, comforted and safe.

It's quite another to use the same words in a cold, exasperated tone of voice.

Tone is essential.  A soothing tone can feel like a verbal hug.

Talk to yourself as you would talk to someone you care deeply about!  By stopping the criticism and cultivating interest and support, you'll be able to comfort yourself with words.  When that happens, you won't use food for that purpose!

As with everything, practice makes progress.

Take good care of yourself, today and every day!

Dr. Nina

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