I want to introduce a small turnaround.
All those things you’ve been doing wrong? All the ways you’re a failure, you’re stupid, you’re a willpower weakling, you should be able to do something but you can’t.
It might not be that you’re stupid.
In fact, you might not be stupid enough.
I said this to someone else a few weeks ago when she was in the throes of frustration, but it’s turned into a true gift to me.
It’s pretty much the exact opposite of what my brain might come up with on its own (especially when Bitch Boss is in charge).
Actually, when I say this sort of thing to myself, my brain is kind of flabbergasted and can’t figure out a counterargument quickly. That delay, that little space, gives me some time to extricate myself from the sneaky hate spiral.
My value is not determined by the stuff I can control.
In fact, it’s possible that everything in the entire world might not be my fault.
Not only mine, anyway.
It’s possible I need to be a little more of what I don’t want to be (or what I’m not supposed to want to be).
Maybe I need to be a little more stupid. Maybe I need to be a little bit more inconsiderate, or whiny, or childlike. Maybe I need to make demands on people the way they make demands on me.
What if? What if?
Here’s a conversation I had during Morning Pages:
So I’m feeling disappointed, I’m feeling vulnerable because [X] will see what I’m doing, I feel stupid for not anticipating this. And I feel like I’m back at square 1.
Oof. Oof. Oof.
What do you need, baby girl?
I want to eat. Bigtime. I hate having to rely on people. I feel really defensive about my tiny, sweet thing. I’m afraid this whole thing won’t work and it’ll mean something about me. That I don’t work. That I’ll never work or be successful.
I need unconditional love and positive regard. I need to have space to not have answers yet. I need space for my tiny sweet project. I need a safe space for all the hopes and dreams I have associated with this dream.
You have it, baby girl. Show me your desires. I’ll hold you open.
I want to be legitimate. I want to make money. I want respect and for people to not roll their eyes at me and how quirky I am.
I want to not exaggerate these qualities in defense.
What will it take for me to regard myself this way? Why can’t I give this to myself? Why do I take things so personally?
Baby girl, there are a lot of good reasons. Your body and mind are so smart. They adapted so well. You’re not stupid enough, as you wrote today 🙂 You remember what happened when you put yourself out there before. Your safety is the most important thing, and your body is so sophisticated at protecting you. Real change happens at the level of the gesture. It’s you doing one single thing different than you did before. Maybe that’s you trusting that [X] really respects you and holds you in high regard because you’re the yin to his yang, and not in spite of it. Maybe that’s you getting back into the dieting world by auditing [Y]’s experience and keeping yourself outside of all those safety issues about check-ins and diets and measurements and shoulds. Perhaps [Y] can be the bridge for you.
I want to offer this to you, because if you’re coming here with an emotional eating issue, it’s not about food. It was never about food. So when your unwanted food habits keep showing up, it’s not about the food. It’s about your safety and your emotional needs.
There was a really good reason you turned to food in the first place. It was a smart coping mechanism.
And you’re not stupid enough to forget that.
You’re not stupid enough to think that making big life decisions isn’t a big deal, that you can proceed casually from one thing to the next, as though there are no consequences to your actions.
You aren’t stupid enough to forget that sometimes silence is safety.
You aren’t stupid enough to make a complete turnaround on your first time, because we’re unraveling years and years of patterns, many of which you’re not even aware of until you start doing the work.
So if you mess up and start berating yourself, your highest priority is to stop that sneaky hate spiral.
Give yourself the legitimacy of being a smart person who did the best they could. The reason you’re wanting to change these patterns is because they’re no longer you, but they’re still ingrained enough to be automatic.
Changing them is slow, patient work. It happens one gesture at a time.