When you walk into a room filled with strangers, what are your initial thoughts?
Do you think the best? All these people are interested in me and can't wait to meet me!
Or the worst? Everyone thinks I'm fat... boring... stupid.
Sometimes these judgmental thoughts are automatic, as in the following examples:
- Alyssa sat on the couch in my office, telling me about her weekend "stay-cation" of watching movies at home. As I listened, she suddenly stopped talking and sighed, saying, "You're right, I should have done some work this weekend. I can't believe how lazy I am."
- Corinne wept in frustration as she described a recent problem at work. She blew her nose and shook her head, apologetically. "You probably think I'm such a crybaby."
- My friend Bettina and I had dinner recently, and she ordered dessert. She gave me a sheepish look. "I know what you're thinking. I have no business eating tiramisu.
They thought they knew what I was thinking. They were wrong!
Each of these people projected her own critical thoughts about themselves onto me. Why?
Alyssa's father was a workaholic and accused her of being a slacker. She thought I was viewing her through her father's eyes.
Corinne grew up in a family that did not tolerate emotions or tears, which were viewed as signs of weakness. She imagined that I was viewing her tears contemptuously.
Bettina's mother constantly monitored her weight, and Bettina thought I was doing so, too.
Those fears can make you want to isolate from other people, leaving you vulnerable to using food in any one of the following ways: to ofill an emptiness, to be a friend, for comfort, numbness, and escape.
Here's some "food for thought" to consider:
What do you think others are thinking about you? Are they critical? Kind? Indifferent? Angry?
Who viewed you that way in the past? How are those thoughts familiar?
What is another way to view yourself and the situation? What would you say to someone else in your position?
Here's what I was ACTUALLY thinking, by the way, about Alyssa, Corinne and Bettina:
It's important to relax over the weekend and recharge your batteries.
It's healthy to cry if you're upset.
It's okay to eat dessert, or anything, in moderation
Don't be a mind reader! ('cause you're probably not really psychic!)
When you think the worst, you feel terrible, and may eat to cope.
When you believe others are interested in you, you feel less anxious/upset/guarded and are therefore less likely to turn to food.
That's how you make peace with food!
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