Thought suppression is a big reason why we tend to eat the wrong foods. The way thought suppression works is like this. Don’t think of cheesecake. What are you thinking about? Cheesecake. If you keep telling yourself don’t think about cheesecake, all you’re going to be thinking about is cheesecake. This happens because when we try to suppress thoughts we want to get rid of, we begin to scan for the thought on a subconscious level. When we have to be aware of the cheesecake it starts popping up in our consciousness. We keep thinking about cheesecake and we have to constantly suppress the thought. This is done over and over again and it becomes very tiring.
So now you’re trying to lose weight and you’re sitting at home and all you want is cheesecake. So you try and distract yourself but cheesecake keeps popping up in your mind. So now what do you do?
You can go to the store and get the biggest most delicious cheesecake and eat it all in one night. You wake up the next morning however feeling tired, mad and disgusted with yourself.
Or, you can indulge in a positive way. Recognize you really want cheesecake. Allow that to be an OK feeling. Decide to make it yourself. Go to the store and buy all the ingredients and make it at home. You can choose to buy healthy, fresh, organic ingredients that make you feel more satisfied with your feelings towards the cheesecake.
Now you are being mindful of what you are eating and you are choosing quality over quantity and that’s the approach that will prevent binge eating.
So what are successful dieters doing?
People who successfully lose weight and keep it off don’t think of it as a diet. As stated earlier diet is deprivation, and punishment. It cannot be sustained for a long period of time.
Approach weight loss as a lifestyle change.
Figure out what is causing you to overeat… what is your trigger?
Change the way you think and behave.
Treat your emotions with kindness and grace.
Treat your body with positivity and compassion.
The key to weight loss is improving your life, not just losing weight.
Know that it is OK to eat the foods that you like and exercise at your comfort level at times of day that are good for you. Put your weight loss on your schedule, in harmony with your preferences. Write down your goals, and plan your food and exercise into your day. Always set realistic expectations so you don’t feel demoralized and miserable.
Remember weight loss is not just about self-control or will power there’s more to it. Be immensely kind with yourself during the process of losing weight. The additional weight you may carry today is not a reason to beat yourself up or create sickness in yourself. The additional weight you may carry around today is simply an opportunity to bring light to the root cause of the issue.
At my hypnotherapy practice in Dubai and Abu Dhabi I help clients discover how to make positive changes in their life to enhance their body’s health and vitality. With hypnosis you will see that everything you need is already inside of you right now! All the answers you need rest within you.
Some things to understand:
The phases and cycle of emotional eating is made up of four key components.
1: The Initial Trigger
The initial trigger is a thought or event that triggers an emotional response to eat. An example of this could be thinking about your big important work presentation that is coming up, dealing with a romantic breakup, or simply feeling like you don’t love yourself. Most of the time you are internalizing the feelings around these events and stories and you are not dealing with them head on.
2: The Aftermath
We then consume all the delicious, sugary, fatty, unhealthy foods subconsciously striving to cover up all those scary, sad uncomfortable feelings. At first a rush of false happiness floods our system then quite quickly is replaced with a massive dip in energy.
3: Guilt, Shame & Discomfort
Our digestive system becomes worn and we begin to feel shame and guilt around that cheesecake or pizza we just devoured.
4: The New Trigger
Because we start to feel guilty for giving into the unhealthy foods, the guilt and shame along with the physical distress leads us to a new trigger or emotion that starts the cycle all over again.
The things that trigger us to overeat and choose unhealthy foods are different for everyone. The thoughts and perceptions you have internalized as a child from fearful, stressful, scary, and sad events lie deep within your subconscious mind. These thoughts and emotions are what you base all your decisions on in life. Most of the time you are completely unaware of why you are doing what you are doing. Your life is being driven by your beliefs, perceptions and inner voice.
Do any of these words remind you of things your inner voice says to you?
I’m a loser
I’m not worthy
I’m not good enough
There must be something wrong with me
I’m too loud
This critical inner voice that attacks, judges and blames you is setting impossible standards of excellence. It beats you up if you don’t meet these standards and it keeps track of all the faults and failures you have ever made. The critical inner voice has a list of appropriate behaviors that you must follow to live your life properly. If you deviate from this list of behaviors your critical inner voice will put you down, call you names and tell you your bad, wrong, ugly or stupid.
Every day the critic is busy damaging your self-esteem. The inner voice is so devious and entwined into each thought of your mind that you never even notice the shattering effects it has upon you. When you attack yourself it seems practical and reasonable. That inner voice appears to be a normal and familiar part of you. However, it is just a trickster attempting to break you down and make you not like yourself.
Because the critical inner voice is buried so deep inside your subconscious mind, it does not matter how malicious or inaccurate it is. You always will believe what it says. When the voice says “I’m so ugly,” this judgment seems just as true to you as the awareness that you were hot when you walked onto the sunny street this afternoon, or that your hair is black, or that you don’t like broccoli. The critical inner voice drowns out any normal, sensible thoughts you may have of yourself, takes your self-esteem and crushes it.
The critic is tremendously ruthless and toxic to your psychological well-being and it is always with you – judging, accusing and finding mistakes. “You’re not allowed to wear that,” it says, “you look terrible.” You automatically feel sad and worthless like a child who’s been punished for doing something wrong.
Consider the example of one of my recent clients. A 36-year-old marketing director preparing for an important presentation for a big name company. While waiting her turn to present she sat from afar looking at the individuals in the audience deciding what kind of people they were and how they may react to her. She was beginning to worry if she wore the right outfit, prepared an intelligent speech, worrying is she did everything right. She started to fill her mind with all the things the people in the audience were going to say about her, “She’s so stupid,” “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” “How did she get this job,” “She looks terrible,” “Wow, this is really boring.” The marketing director listened to the words of the people in her mind and believed everything. Except it wasn’t the people talking, it was the critical inner voice talking. When it was time she walked up to the podium, opened the presentation on her laptop, looked into the faces of the people and froze. No words would come out. Her face turned red, her heart sped up, and her hands began to shake. Once again the critic defeated her. If only she could have known how to tune the critic out.
Although the critical inner voice seems to have complete power over you, this is just not true. You just have to learn how to turn him off.
To know how to turn the critic off you must first know where he came from.
A Critical Inner Voice is Born:
When you are a child your mom and dad are constantly teaching you what is good, bad, acceptable, wrong, lovable, annoying, dangerous, etc. You get a hug for being a “good girl” or you get punished for being “loud and annoying.” When a child perceives themselves as bad because of a punishing event by a parent, the child feels rejected. A parent is a child’s safety, their source for life in the world. A child knows if mom or dad rejects him he will be dismissed and will die. Bottom line is parental approval is a life or death situation. Feelings of disappointment, wrongfulness, and being bad can be felt at an extremely deep level knowing that all support may be lost.
The critical inner voice is the voice of the disapproving parent, the dad who spanked you and the mom who sent you to bed with no dinner. The critical inner voice is what formed your actions as a child and is where your perceptions of the world come from today.
How Messages of Being “BAD” as a Child Effect You as an Adult:
The sense of being wrong
Your parents may have called your “bad” “lazy” “fat” “stupid” “wrong” if you forgot to do your chores, got a bad grade in school, had sexual feelings too young, wanted to dress a certain way, eat dessert, or was too loud in public. Parents often create low self-esteem in children that last a lifetime by demoralizing their children with the labels they place upon them. When a child hears that he is “stupid” “lazy” “fat” that child is left with a permanent sense of being wrong.
There is a difference between a bad behavior and a bad person
Did your parents ever call you a “bad boy” for running too fast in the house?
Were you ever called a “good girl” for getting an A+ on an exam?
The child that is being called a “bad boy” for running too fast in the house is learning that HE and HIS BEHAVIOR are bad. The girl who is labeled a “good girl” for getting a good grade on her exam is learning that SHE and HER behavior are good. If the girl gets anything less than a perfect score on her next exam she may assume that she is BAD. The problem with this is that the child is not learning the difference between his bad behavior and his self-worth.
A “wrong” or “bad” child made the parent mad or withdrawal
When the disapproval from being a bad or wrong child is joined with an angry withdrawing parent the rejecting message to the child is overwhelming. A child will perceive the anger and withdrawal as “You’re a bad girl, and I’m rejecting you.” Such a massively frightening message is then forever embedded in the child’s subconscious. The child will always remember being wrong and the critical inner voice will use this perception to attack the child as he becomes an adult.
So why are you eating so much?
You feel bad or wrong from a triggering event in your current environment. When you eat the comfort food it stops the pain that is being felt from the inner critical voice. Because the pain disappears temporarily from the consumption of food, you’re more likely to choose eating every time you feel this and similar pain again in the future. It makes sense that if something will relieve stress and anxiety then we will choose to partake in it. Eating becomes part of a problem solving processes. You’re in pain, you want to feel better, food numbs the pain.
When you make a mistake, are being criticized or are dealing with people that are disapproving you the critical inner voice will show up and start making you feel bad. You know that the critical inner voice is taking over when you start to feel depressed or down. If you want to stop the critical inner voice and take control of your life put this simple self-hypnosis trick:
Close your eyes and take a slow deep breath in through your nose…. filling up your abdomen with fresh, clean air… exhale through your mouth and feel your diaphragm stretch and relax. (repeat 4 times)
Be aware of your body, feel the beat of your heart and the blood flowing through your veins.
Notice if you are hot or cold
Release the tension from you face, mouth, eyes, shoulders, back, arms, hands, fingers, stomach, legs, feet and toes.
Notice where you feel depression, pain, or sickness in your body. Focus on that place for a while and really get in touch with the feeling there.
Notice the thoughts arising from your mind that are associated with the feeling in that particular part of your body.
Notice everything that you are saying to yourself in this moment.
Now, think of the earliest time you ever felt this feeling and what the critical inner voice was saying then.
When you follow these simple self-hypnosis steps you will be able to discover why your critical inner voice is saying those hurtful things to you.
You may discover such things as:
You’re comparing me to those people so I can find someone not as good as me and then I can finally feel happy about myself.
You’re telling me I’m stupid like my parents used to, and I believe you because I believed them.
You’re making sure that I act perfect, so if I do everything right I will feel happy with myself.
You’re telling me that I am not capable so I won’t even try, that way I won’t mess up.
When you finally understand why the critical inner voice is saying those things to you then you have discovered the root cause of your overeating.
Let’s pretend that you planned a fun, romantic getaway for you and your partner. You excitedly present the getaway to your partner and then with no explanation you receive a phone call that they are not going to make it. Some people’s inner voice would say “he doesn’t love you,” or “nobody loves me, “or “I’m unlovable” and it could remind you of many things from the past. The feelings just sneak up on you from the subconscious mind flooding you with insecurity.
This is when you need to take control and tell the inner voice to be quiet. You then confront the person and ask them what is going on. Approach them gently and say “hey I’m feeling kind of down right now because you ditched our vacation plans… I’m wondering if we can talk about it for a minute so we can understand what is going on.” Don’t live as a prisoner to the perceptions in your mind, find out the facts. When you live in your version of the story and try to suppress the uncomfortable feelings this is when you dig into the ice cream, order the pizza and eat the doughnuts.
Instead of having the habit of agreeing with your critical inner voice, break habit and notice what is going on around you. Notice your feelings and where they are coming from and why. Pause life for a moment, take a long walk, drink some tea, or take a nap.
Dealing with your critical inner voice about who you are as a person is going to help you overcome your eating problem. Knowing when to recognize insecure feelings once they start sneaking up on you. Knowing that you have control over your life and feelings and decisions is key. Losing weight isn’t about eating less it, it is about being mindful, taking control, and thinking differently.