About 4 years ago, I was a mess. An overweight, unhappy mess and I couldn’t figure out why. I started reading articles online and then I stumbled on a program called Shrink Yourself. Through this program, I realized that there is a reason that I overeat. I was shocked to find that I wasn’t just someone with no self control, a fat pig who ate and ate and ate just for the heck of it. What I took away from Shrink Yourself was that I used food to cope with life. That was a revelation for me.

I started finding and reading blogs and  learning about emotional eating. Finally! A name for what I was going through!  I read books about emotional eating and took in all that I could on the subject. What filled me was the fact that I wasn’t alone in my struggle. Others described exactly what I was feeling and thinking. That was a revelation for me, too.

So for the last 4 years, I have been living under the banner of “Emotional Eater”. It should be tattooed on my forehead, I identify myself so much with this. This label has served me well and helped me come to terms with some things about myself that are no longer a mystery. I has set me free.

Except now, I’m not feeling so free anymore.

I feel like it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy that I can’t undo. I feel like this label, this belief, is not serving me anymore. I am so locked in to the belief that I use food to cope, that I think I secretly believe that there are no other options.  I fear that it has kept me from crossing over the bridge to the other side. The other side being “I no longer use food to cope”.

I think that I locked myself in to this label because it was comfortable. And if I put my whole identity in to this Emotional Eater category, then I didn’t have to do the work to change. I have read and read and read about emotional eating but I’ve never ACTED on changing it because I was so enmeshed in it. My subconscious would  rationalize it as “If I’m not an emotional eater, then who am I?”  These labels, these false beliefs have been about playing it safe and holding back. Not really believing that I could be so much more than that. Not believing that I am worthy of the effort it will take to make the jump.  I have other false beliefs that tie into this emotional eating label, too that have held me back.

Some of my other false beliefs are:

  • I’m inconsistent
  • I’m an overeater
  • I’m lazy
  • I’m messy
As long as I believe these things about myself, then I don’t have to behave differently. Which leads to that self-fulfilling prophecy thing I was talking about earlier in this post.
I don’t want these to be my labels anymore. I think it’s time I started creating new labels for myself, but how do I change?  I think one thing I have learned  is to challenge these beliefs I have about myself. For example:
  • I’m inconsistent – Am I really? I consistently brush my teeth twice a day. I consistently go to work 5 days a week. I consistently cook dinner, do laundry, and tell my family that I love them. There are hundreds of things I consistently do every single day, so this belief is actually false. Do I consistently exercise? No, but that’s only because I haven’t made it a habit. Yet.
  • I’m an overeater – Um… not always. There have been plenty of times I have stopped just short of full. There have been many times I could have eaten more, but didn’t. This is going to be a harder one to un-believe, but I’ll work on it.
  • I’m lazy – I think I used to believe this one more than I do now. I actually enjoy being busy now, and find that I’m happier when I’m doing something productive or creative. And with a full time job, a husband, and 3 kids, I just don’t have time to be lazy anymore!!
  • I’m messy – There was a time when clutter didn’t bother me. Leaving dishes in the sink was no big deal for me. Now however, it bugs the heck out of me. Having my clothes mismatched and wrinkled are not an option for me anymore. I don’t want my house or my body to look messy anymore. This one is going to be a continual effort!
So now I guess I have to start acting like I want my labels to change. Not easy, but doable. I think this is where “fake it til you make it” comes into play. What do I want those new labels to be? I’d like the label of “Making Progress”. At this point, that’s all I want. I just want to see myself making progress, even if that progress is small and slow. Changing my labels is not going to be easy, but I think I’m in a good enough place that I can work on making that happen. And maybe eventually I can change that label to “At Peace With Myself” – because that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?
*the inspiration for this post came from listening to Session 11 of Untangled by Karly Pittman. Go check out her blog – she has lots to offer!