Stop Telling Yourself It’s Hard to Take Care of Yourself
I had another one of those weeks when several clients came in with the same complaint: It’s hard to not binge or overeat, exercise regularly, stop noshing, take “me” time, and do right for themselves. Hearing this grievance three times in three days, I knew I had to blog about this strange phenomenon. How could highly accomplished and competent clients insist it was too hard to take care of themselves? Why did capable people with enough fortitude, talent, gumption and persistence to be doing impressive things out in the world swear they couldn’t say no to a Mars bar or a bag of chips?
I’m talking about…Single parents with a gaggle of teenagers at home and a difficult ex-spouse. Medical professionals whom we entrust with our lives. People taking care of aging parents while juggling a demanding career. Clients going to school and working at the same time. Folks who’ve stopped smoking or drinking or drugging or who run themselves ragged raising or taking care of their grandchildren. Those tasks are hard.
They come into my office and say things like, “I try and try, but eventually give in to food. It’s too hard. I can’t say no to myself. It controls me.” So, first we discuss their self-talk and how it repeatedly self-messaging that they can’t do something is producing the inability to do it. If you speak like this to yourself, you need to nix the negativity chatter immediately. No more “I can’t” or “It’s too hard.” You can and it isn’t.
The second thing we discuss is how did and do they manage to do so many genuinely hard things. What do they tell themselves? How do they motivate themselves to get to work when they’re tired, travel for business when they want to be home, take care of others in tough situations, sustain a sense of purpose for tasks they don’t enjoy, and reach their goals. They clearly don’t say, “This is too hard” or “I can’t do this.”
Bio-chemistry is complex, while attuning to appetite is straightforward. No matter how many times you’ve dieted or lost weight and regained it, it’s time to stop telling yourself that eating “normally” is too hard. The international intuitive eating movement has been around since the 1980s, having grown exponentially over the decades. There were a handful of books on how to succeed when I started out 30+ years ago and now there are hundreds. People are doing it every day all over the world.
You’ll need to learn new life skills, swap out irrational for rational beliefs, develop new self-talk, and modify unhelpful personality traits. Vow never again to tell yourself that eating healthfully and according to appetite is too hard. Sure, it’s unfamiliar and takes intention, attention, and practice with a hefty dose of self-compassion. That’s it, really.