Words are important tools — although I probably am biased since I make my living by them. They have the power to transform us and the power to hold us back. How we use words has a tremendous influence on everything we do from interacting with others, to creating our own self-image.
In terms of the weight management journey, I think about half of what we need to do is choose the right kinds of foods, and the other half of what we have to do is choose new, positive thoughts that can move us in the right direction. Often I feel that the internal story we tell ourselves about our own life is one of the chief places we can make effective, lasting change.
One thing I’ve noticed in this regard is that I often hear someone begin describing what’s challenging them in their weight loss by saying ‘My problem is …’
Now this is a natural enough word choice, but I do think it bears examining. Because, in my mind, when we start to label a problem as being something we own, it begins to seem like some kind of possession.
When I hear these phrases (‘My problem is night eating.’ ‘My problem is I don’t like exercise.’ ‘My problem is chocolate.’)I begin to imagine people walking around with their pet problem on a leash, feeding it, nurturing it, carrying it with them everywhere.
‘My problem is I always overeat.’ I can just see a little green overeating monster being paraded around at parties, at work, at the beach, etc.!
Am I being too psychoanalytical? Is this really such a big deal? Don’t we all immediately undertand someone when they beging telling us ‘My problem is … ‘ ?
I guess its just that I think we human beings have been given so many great and powerful tools, and to ignore any of them as we try to change our lives and transform our physical bodies is to sell ourselves short. I wouldn’t choose beer and coookies for dinner, so why would I choose damaging and hurtful words to talk about when I start to describe myself?
There’s no simple or easy solution (i.e. ‘My challenge is …’) but that doesn’t surprise me. So much of what we have to do as people trying to manage our weight is to take on an awareness of the things we can do differently. Testing out alternatives, exploring new ways of doing and thinking.
Just imagine trying to describe your biggest weight loss challenge WITHOUT using words that make it sound like the ‘problem’ is ‘yours.’ It might be awkward and it might take some extra thinking. For example ‘At night, I find there are situations and circumstances which lead me to overeat’ …. doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue. But perhaps in describing the process that challenges us, we can begin to explore its causes (and thereby begin uncovering solutions).
This week, why not join me in trying to re-phrase the story you’re telling yourself about yourself? Help me find new ways to communicate the things which are bothersome and problematic, in a way that helps us move towards answers and positive change.