Go To The Movies is this weeks reading from Becoming Slender For Life. Emotional eating is a challenge for most people who are overweight and makes weight loss particularly challenging. I know for myself when I weighed over 100 pounds more than I do now, I used food to mask anger, hurt, fear, sadness and stress. When I stopped using food as a drug to keep me from feeling, those emotions were in my face big time! Go To The Movies offers you an healthy method for emotional healing.
Go To The Movies
When you do experience losing yourself in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, a box of chocolates, a batch of cookies or a bag of chips, it can be a great opportunity for healing. The next exercise is another good way to counteract a lack of mindfulness and food trances.
As soon as you become aware that you are eating for emotional reasons, imagine being in a movie theatre up in the projection booth next to the projector and looking out the little window. Look down into the theatre at the top of your own head, so that you are watching yourself. In fact, also imagine you are seeing yourself watching a movie. There on the screen is a film of you gobbling down the ice cream, cookies or whatever food you just consumed unconsciously. Really notice THAT you up there on the screen doing the emotional eating. Get in touch with that character on the screen, and really connect with what you are thinking and feeling.
Now, how old is that little boy or girl on the screen? What is that part of you thinking? I’m not good enough, no one cares, it’s not safe. What is that part of you feeling (anger, hurt, fear, sadness)? Did you experience yourself as a child up on the screen? If not, then think about your earliest memories of these same emotions you experienced on the screen. Often, the answer is you were less than 10 years old. It makes no difference how wonderful a childhood you may have had. It makes no difference whether or not you were overweight as a child or if you ate emotionally as a child. What is it that this little boy or girl really needs to feel safe—is it love, attention, what?
The story can go something like this: A 3-year-old is running down the sidewalk, trips, falls and scrapes his knee. Grandma scoops him up in her arms, puts a Scooby Doo bandage on it, kisses away the tears, holds and comforts the toddler in her arms of unconditional love and feeds him one of her homemade chocolate chip cookies. This is powerful stuff! Here we have grandma’s unconditional love, we have the physical anchoring of the hug, as well as the refined flour, sugar and chocolate stimulating the same opiate receptors as does heroin.
And here we are today, a few years later still falling and scraping our knees. Grandma is no longer picking us up, but the accessibility to chocolate chips cookies is more plentiful than ever. And for a fleeting moment, we can experience the same powerful emotions of unconditional love anchored with that hug and grandma’s cookie. This is also a trance!
Imagine with me for a moment that you have a grandchild the same age as the little boy or girl who you saw on the movie screen and this child is the same gender as you. You walk into the kitchen and there is your grandchild furiously eating a plate of cookies. One glance and you know that something is wrong; something is upsetting your grandchild. What would you say? Might you sit down and start talking to find out what has upset your grandchild? Would you suggest going for a walk or some other activity? Might you touch, hug or hold your grandchild and tell your grandchild that you love him or her? You certainly wouldn’t shame or guilt your grandchild for thoughts, emotions or even for eating, and I hope you wouldn’t offer ice cream to go with the cookies!
Let’s look at how this works. Borrowing from Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis, and I’m OK, You’re OK, by Thomas Harris, look at the three circles on the next page.
In the center is the loving, nurturing adult you of today. On the bottom is the child part of you that is cellular memory or the child trance that is looking for love, for attention or to simply numb out and to not feel at all. And there on the top is that critical parent, that shaming and guilting part of you. We live most of our lives moving back and forth from the trance of that child looking for love and protection and the critical parent that shames and guilts us—that “shoulds” on us.
All it takes is a tone of voice, a word, a look, a song, a gesture, or a scent and we move into a trance. Our job is to learn to recognize the trance and to take control of the trance we are in.
There will never be enough love, safety, attention or even cookies to meet the needs of that young child in you. This little child does not exist to anyone else but you. You are the only one that can do that for you.
It is not a child’s job to choose its parent’s meals. It is not the job of your inner child to choose what and how much you eat. I feel like having cookies for dinner! Nor is it the job of that critical parent to tell you what you can and cannot eat. Don’t you dare eat that cookie—you’re on a diet! A cookie is just a cookie. Cookies are neither right or wrong or good or bad. They are simply cookies. I’ve yet to meet a store-bought cookie that was worth eating, let alone slowing someone down from releasing more pounds.
But when you’re at your neighbor’s house for a cup of coffee and she brings out the fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies, of course you can enjoy a cookie. Not the bowl of raw dough, the whole bag of chocolate chips, and not twelve cookies! Cookies are a part of life. As people, we commune together through the breaking of bread. What you eat and how much you eat is the job of the center circle, that loving, nurturing adult (the grandparent part of you).
So how do you love that child in you? How do you meet the needs of this young child? One way is to look in the mirror.
When was the last time you looked into your eyes in the mirror? If you are like most people, you can’t remember. Oh sure, you glanced around as you brushed your teeth, put in your contacts or combed your hair. But I bet you really didn’t look into your eyes and notice what you saw. If you were a little child, how loved would you feel if you couldn’t remember the last time someone looked at you? I bet not very loved at all. But weren’t you in front of a mirror when you brushed your teeth this morning? And you’ve been in a room with a mirror since then, right?
Solution for addressing your inner child:
Look into your eyes, not just all around them. In the morning as you are brushing your teeth, look into your eyes and say “Good morning” and “I love you” to the younger parts of yourself. Throughout the day, remind your inner child that he or she is not the one who has to deal with challenges at work, or traffic, or your spouse or pay the bills. When you pass a mirror throughout your day, encourage a positive interaction between you, thank your inner child for a laugh you may have shared, and assure your child self that he or she is safe.
Talk to your inner child
The next time you become aware of your inner child needing comfort, ask the child what’s going on and what he or she needs. Not surprisingly, this suggestion is often met with skepticism. Yet which is more crazy—listening to yourself and giving yourself kind loving thoughts, or continuing the usual negative dialogue that you’ve been used to having with yourself?
Solution for communicating with your inner child:
If you have the CD set, be sure to listen to the Inner Child Track (CD #5 tracks 4 & 5). Grab a piece of paper and a pen, pencil, marker, crayon or paint brush, and respond with your dominant hand. Ask your inner child these questions:
- Why are you upset?
- What would make you happy?
- What are you afraid of?
Next, using your other hand, allow the child to write back. The goal here is to get a healthy dialogue going with your child.
I’m sure that you parents have experienced times when you had to undress your screaming child and put him to bed or strap him into a car seat when he wasn’t cooperative. As parents we do whatever it takes to ensure our children grow up safe and healthy. That’s also the role of the loving, nurturing adult part of you. There are times when your inner child wants a cookie or an extra helping and you just need to say, “No.” We set boundaries with our children, we tell them it’s okay to play in the fenced backyard, but that they must not play on the freeway. And it’s sometimes okay to have a cookie, but not the whole bag!
For many of us, if we fed our children what we have in the past fed ourselves, it would be considered child abuse!
Your job is to learn to give love and care to yourself and to be your own loving, nurturing, responsible parent.
Becoming Slender For Life , second edition, pages 109- 114
If you’re ready to stop abusing your inner child with food find out how to start loving and nurturing yourself with Slender For Life™. Be sure to check out tomorrows blog post, The Kid.
Your Hypnosis Health Info Hypnotic Suggestion for today:
I love and nurture myself.
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