Laura came to me recently wondering “What is my problem. Why can’t I stop thinking so much about food.” She confessed, “It is ruining my relationships and there is no space in my brain to focus on anything else.” To me, Laura was doing well indeed. She was attending college, had a loving family and friends, and was planning her solo trip to Spain right after graduation. But these behaviors were gnawing at her and for good reason. “I hate having my loved ones worry about me. I need to face this and start to change.” But how do we get to a place where we feel comfortable with change? Do we ever get there?
Is it necessary to understand the why-the why of the eating issue? I think so. It is an obvious issue but I think if Laura were to dig even deeper, she would find a common theme in her life-more quiet a theme than eating but still ever helpful. Laura can then ask how her current eating issues contribute to the theme of say, “I am not enough.”
Whether weight loss is a priority or you’re trying to heal years of dysregulated eating and body shaming, understanding change is a crucial component to this process. It’s not enough to just change the “bad habits.” NO, we are undoing neural pathways that have been formed over years (and maybe even decades). This work requires real commitment and an understanding of the anxieties, fears and pain surrounding food.
Being in the field of addiction, I recognize that understanding the “Why” of any pain is only half the battle. Changing the behavior is an additional factor and it’s sometimes harder to change the behavior than we think. I find a mixture of understanding the pain and also changing the behaviors is key. This article talks more about the difficulty of change.
Change is hard. There is no one right way to make a change. For some, change comes easy. You are an active participant in the process and need only the tool for change to happen. For others, change requires you to get to the start line. To contend with the fact that you may get to the start line and struggle to finish the race. But this self -awareness is a great thing. As I previously said, understanding the ‘why’ (even if it is the why I don’t want to change) is so important. Once you land on a decision, you will be able to start the process of change. YOU are the one responsible for making the change happen. This will require you to “try on” several different therapies and therapists until you find a good fit.
Laura found her change agent-Hypnotherapy. She and only she was the reason change happened so quickly. Laura and I spent a few sessions using hypnotherapy to dive deep in to her past memories. We used scripts that would reinforce the results she wanted to see and help her visualize her healthier future self, full of hope and resilience.
Change occurs quickly when you can imagine healing all the parts of yourself -the part that overeats because it is stressed. Or, maybe it’s the shame part that thinks you are not good enough and past hurts prove, in your mind, those thoughts to be true.
Laura and I worked on these past anxieties and fears and the underlying theme that was present in these past memories or regressions. The theme of “I am not good enough” would soon surface. And Laura was then able to change that old belief into something that would serve her like “I am good just the way I am.” This new learning occurred over time through repetition and rehearsal but soon binges were a distant memory and her self worth was increasing day by day. She eventually liked what she saw in the mirror and didn’t hide from the reflective surface anymore. Her clothes…well, they lost their “power” and she began wearing clothes that previously she would never touch like clothes with no sleeves and one piece bathing suits, etc. She owned her power!
This may be an oversimplification but this desire to lose weight is not uncommon. The belief that you will “kick this” habit if only you lost weight (and normally there’s a number in mind) is real. In disordered eating, weight loss is a characteristic of these illnesses. But many people with eating disorders don’t lose weight and may even gain weight as a result of their disorder. They gain weight until true identification of the root cause of disordered eating is achieved. Then, and only then, can the healing can begin!
I do believe you are most successful if you are honest with yourself and where you are in the change continuum. Are all of your “parts” ready to change? Or is it Just a few parts like the shame part of you? Hypnotherapy can help! You will make the most progress if you are aware that change happens over time-it is truly a process. And successes and failures are also part of that process.
I would love to hear from you. Let me know how you overcame barriers to change by replying to the blog below. And if you are still struggling and need some support, contact me here. I provide support, help and healing in person at my Richmond, VA therapy practice or online throughout Virginia. I provide hypnotherapy via Zoom worldwide! You can schedule a free consultation here!