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Roger Gould, M.D.  
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Specialties: Mental Health, Wellness, emotional eating

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How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Control Emotional Eating (Part 3)

Apr 16, 2014 - 3 comments
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emotional eating

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End Emotional Eating

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control emotional eating



It's only when you believe that you're still a child that your inner critic has any control over you. As an adult, believing that you're still a child shows itself in the way you respond when self-doubt arises. Here's a quick checklist of those self-defeating behaviors:

When self-doubt arises, you...

. Become intimidated and cave, or hold back your opinion.
. Assume other people are right and you are wrong.
. Become afraid to express your true feelings.
. Feel guilty, as though you've done something wrong.
. Forget your basic rights as a person and feel you're not entitled to anything.
. Become afraid to show your true potential, competency or talent.

All of these self-defeating behaviors are based on one simple premise: you're not a fully enfranchised adult with a voice who deserves whatever luck or hard work or opportunity can offer. In other words: Accusation #4 You're a pretend adult, and don't deserve the full rights of adulthood.

Every time you act (or react) this way, you're simply reinforcing Harriet's power by agreeing with her that you're an undeserving person. The misinterpretation you're making here is that Harriet's view of the world is correct. Which, of course, is simply false.

The key to silencing Harriet's accusation here is not through an inner dialogue with her, but through action. In fact, doing the exact opposite of the above-listed behaviors is the course of action required.

That can be boiled down to actions as simple as...

. Instead of becoming afraid to express your true feelings, find the courage to do so.
. Instead of becoming intimidated or holding back your opinion, find your true voice and make it heard.
. Instead of automatically assuming others are right and you must be wrong, take a chance on your own intelligence and experience.

We can call these actions "Harriet-defeating" behaviors. And these behaviors are based on the simple truth that you are an adult who has these basic rights. Furthermore, it's only you who can ever deny yourself of them. You are in charge.

Each time you take positive action and contradict a self-defeating behavior, you strike another damaging blow to your inner critic and strengthen your own confidence and self-worth. And, unlike insecurity and self-loathing, confidence and self-worth tend to keep your mind out of the junk food drawer and on the genuine life you were meant to live.

Accusation #5: You know the good stuff about you isn't real

Like the winner who believes the judges would never have awarded her first-place had they known the "ugly truth" about her, so, too, do emotional eaters carry a feeling of being undeserving of the good things in life. This is one of Harriet's most devious accusations. Devious because it doesn't require any words at all from her—just a feeling.

You can't accurately state why you feel undeserving; you just know that you feel it deep inside. And chances are the feeling's been with you long enough that you hardly ever give any thought to your redeeming qualities.

The first way to counter this may sound over-simplistic and even corny—it nevertheless is true: Remember the times you were proud of yourself and the circumstances surrounding that. A quick go-to list of these is based on fact and the real world, not some murky feeling that Harriet tries to sell you.

Still, if Harriet manages to shoot you down, and your undeserving feeling persists, there is a very effective way in which to speak directly to her. Let's use an example to show how.

A patient of mine who we'll call Lauren, said, "When things happen at my school where I'm a teacher, or with my friends, I immediately think the worst, no matter what is actually going on. My co-teacher might say something nice, my students might hug me and tell me how great they think I am, and yet I am so far into my own thoughts and paranoia that I make myself feel completely worthless. No amount of validation on anybody's part makes a dent in how I feel about myself."

Here's what Lauren could've told Harriet each time Harriet tried to discount her accomplishments:

Harriet: You know the good stuff about you isn't real, Lauren. You aren't really a good teacher.

Lauren: You're right, I have doubts about my teaching. But I'm convinced by the responses that I'm getting, the feedback from my co-teacher, and the hugs from my students, that my doubts aren't necessarily true.

Harriet: They're just trying to make you feel good.

Lauren: No, there are too many people telling me the same thing. And I know when someone's just trying to make me feel good, and that's not what's happening. They really mean it, and I've done a lot of good work at my school that I'm proud of. I am a good teacher, but I'm not the best teacher. I'm getting better, so don't try to discount the progress I've made.

Maintaining self-defeating behaviors as well as a feeling of not deserving the good things in life is very common to emotional eaters. They're two more of Harriet's weapons of personal destruction that we negate in the ShrinkYourself Program, and two weapons she'll keep aiming at you as long as you allow her to.

Apart from the obvious health and weight benefits that come from silencing your inner-critic, there's another benefit that perhaps outweighs them all: The end of seeing the world through Harriet's eyes, and the beginning of seeing it through your own.

Join me next week as I tackle the last of Harriet's accusations: #6 Everyone knows what you're hiding.

Emotional Eaters: How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Control Emotional Eating(Part 2)

Mar 26, 2014 - 0 comments
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emotional eating

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overcoming emotional eating

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End Emotional Eating

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control emotional eating



There are six major accusations your inner critic (Harriet) likes to throw at you (6 weapons of personal destruction). In my previous post I illustrated how to refute the first two of those accusations and silence Harriet.

Today, we're moving onto the next of Harriet's accusations, one I'm sure you're all very familiar with:

#3 You're a Phony

Silencing Harriet on this point starts with remembering that you tend to adopt what I call "an armor" when your self-doubts are strongest. "The armor" is a role you retreat into to avoid the pain of feeling badly about yourself or like a failure. Below are some typical "armor roles."

Start by picking the ones you most identify with:

Dreamer
Bully
Expert
Loner
Leader
Workaholic
Procrastinator
Perfectionist
Victim
People-pleaser
Seducer/Seductress
Clown
Freewheeler
Self-indulger
Complainer
Martyr
Someone who needs nobody
Indifferent person
Competitor
Non-Competitor
Party Animal
Apologizer
Controller
Drop Out
Liar
Mother

Now take a moment to reflect on your list of "armors" and how they have affected your growth and happiness both in your personal and professional relationships. Think of these "armors" as natural strengths you've overused in order to create a protective shell around yourself—a way to compensate for, or to master, a lack of confidence.

Now pick out the two "armors" you feel have caused you the most problems in your life. Take a moment to identify the self-doubt you've been covering up with these "armors". Doing this will enable you to finally start stepping out of your protective armor and begin addressing one of the major causes of your emotional hunger—your own self-doubt.

Harriet, however, will now likely jump at the chance of accusing you of being a phony due to the fact that you've been wearing your "armor". And you'll likely start feeling on shaky ground about yourself, and perhaps even begin retreating into another of your "armors" to cope.

To prevent all that, let's take the example of Amy to show just how to talk back to Harriet:

Amy has always enjoyed being alone. Her parents said she used to spend hours in her room caught up in an imaginative world of play. While Amy's capacity to spend time alone in a productive way is something she likes about herself, lately she's been using it as a cover-up. She's an artist who paints for many hours in her studio. While she's painting she snacks on Gummi Bears and soda. She's gained thirty pounds in the past year. She tells everyone she's just so busy preparing for her gallery opening that she can't socialize anymore. But in reality, she doesn't want anyone to see how much weight she's gained.

She's hiding behind her loner armor.

So, here's how Amy's successful inner-dialog with Harriet could go down:

Harriet: Amy, you're a phony. You're not really an artist who needs to be alone. You're hiding out because you're afraid to take risks to meet people, and you know they're going to think you're fat now that you've gained weight.

Amy: No, Harriet. I actually do like being alone, but you're right that I've been alone more than I want to be lately.

Harriet: You don't even know who you are underneath that armor.

Amy: I do know who I am. I'm an artist, and I like my work, and I'm trying my best. I'm just afraid no one will love the me that's underneath this armor.

Harriet: Well, you're too chicken to even put yourself out there to see if they might.

Amy: You're right. Up until now I have been, but I've taken lots of risks with my art and I've been well received. Maybe I can take some risks with people, too.

When you admit that you've been wearing your armor simply because you're scared, Harriet won't provide you with the compassion or understanding you want or need. But YOU can provide it for YOURSELF simply by understanding that underneath your heavy "armor" is a worthy human being for whom Harriet's—or anyone else's exaggerated criticisms for that matter—simply aren't true.

Metamorphosis

It's painful being accused of being a phony. Just as it's painful to realize that you've adopted an "armor" to protect yourself. The first pain stops the second you silence Harriet by using your intelligent mind, something we work actively on in the ShrinkYourself program. The second pain soon passes when you realize it's the signal of the next phase of your growth...

Just as the caterpillar breaks free of it's cocoon to transform into the butterfly, so, too, will you step out of your old "armor" and into the true genuine self you are meant to be.

...and won't that break Harriet's heart.

Join me next week as I move onto the fourth of Harriet's accusations: You're a pretend adult and don't deserve the full rights of adulthood.

How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Control Emotional Eating

Oct 29, 2013 - 3 comments
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emotional eating

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Shrink Yourself

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Dr. Gould

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Inner Critic

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control emotional eating

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controlEE



For the sake of argument, let's name your inner critic Harriet. Harriet has a consistency in her negative attitudes and judgements towards you, and greatly influences your actions and beliefs about yourself. In fact, you've likely taken on many of her harsh and unfair criticisms as fact.

Things like, "You'll never lose weight," "You're not worth loving," and "You're a loser."

It is Harriet that you will need to get under control if you are to control your emotional eating. Let me repeat that, loudly and clearly:

If you truly wish to control emotional eating, you will first have to control your inner critic.

This means having a dialogue with Harriet. Actively attacking her in order to defend yourself against her accusations.

Your Inner Critic's 6 Major Accusations of You

1. If you're not perfect, then you're deeply flawed.
2. You're trying to cover up and deny your real faults.
3. You're a phony.
4. You're a pretend adult and don't deserve the full rights of adulthood.
5. You know that the good stuff about you isn't real.
6. Everybody knows what you're hiding.

What's Wrong with You?

It may seem unusual, but the first step in successfully talking back to your inner critic requires listing the things you actually don't like about yourself or that you think are wrong with you. Doing this will serve you greatly. Being up front and almost having a sense of humor about what you don't like about yourself brings you out of hiding and makes those self-doubts far less frightening.

Let's start with the list of Self-Doubt Labels we cover in the ShrinkYourself program. Pick any that apply to you:

I think I'm...

Defenseless
Unloveable
Hopeless
Untrustworthy
Inferior
Mean
Cruel
Unworthy
Disobedient
Defective
Damaged
Incomplete
Stupid
Self-centered
Unfeminine
Not self-sufficient
Childish
Coldhearted
Cowardly
Talentless
Incapable
Unreliable
Too dependent
Helpless
Too meek
Bad
Totally alone
Boring
Weak
Pathetic

Now, write down a simple paragraph describing your self-doubt label(s) just like a storyteller would. e.g.

Dora, a fifty-six-year-old woman whose children are grown and live scattered throughout the country, has no job and no real interests of her own. Harriet convinces Dora that she's all alone and boring. Dora wouldn't dare put expectations on her children, but she doesn't know how to go out and meet new people on her own. Most days Dora sits at home with her disabled husband, retreats into books, and has an all-day grazing session. Harriet's right: Dora's virtually all alone and she is boring.

Defending Yourself

The self-doubt labels we've just covered deal with the first two accusations Harriet makes against you:

1. If you're not perfect, you're deeply flawed.
2. You're trying to cover up and deny your real faults.

Let me show you some responses that Dora could say to Harriet in response to Number 1:

Harriet: "If you're not perfect, Dora, you're deeply flawed.

Dora: "It's okay to have limitations."

"I can't expect to know everything."

"I can't control every situation."

"I can't expect to perfectly control myself."

"Not everyone can love me the way I want to be loved."

"I can't expect to perform perfectly."

"No one is perfect."

"Just because I can't do something right doesn't mean I can't do anything right."

"Just because I made mistakes in the past doesn't mean I won't do things better in the future. It's okay to have limitations."

The Truth

The big truth here is that we are all flawed because we are all human. There is no shame in this. And by accepting this truth, by embracing it, then utilizing any of the above responses to accusation #1, you, like Dora, arm yourself with an iron-clad argument that Harriet simply cannot refute.

When you say to Harriet, "Well, I can't expect to know everything," can she honestly turn around and tell you, "Yes, actually, you can expect to know everything..."

Even if she had the audacity to claim this, wouldn't you see right through her pathetic attempt to level you?

Your Faults

Accusation #2 You're trying to cover up and deny your real faults.

Perhaps you're terrified to admit any of your faults, worrying that they may indicate some horrible and shameful truth about you. Not only is this attitude harsh and wrong, it needlessly paralyzes you.

To be human is to have faults. Many faults. And the journey of life involves accepting that you, along with everyone else, is imperfect, filled with faults and figuring things out as you go.

Developing this ability to think for yourself, to accept that Harriet's accusations may have some truth to them--rather than automatically accepting Harriet's total black and white accusations--is crucial in empowering yourself to object to her arguments. Crucial to keeping you out of the prison cell of guilt and shame that you'd otherwise throw yourself into.

Here's how Dora could talk back to Harriet when she accuses her of #2:

Harriet: "Dora, you're all alone and boring. Your kids have all moved away. They don't want to be around you."

Dora: "Just because they don't live around me doesn't mean they don't love me. I did a good job raising them, and now they're confident enough to be on their own."

Harriet: "But you're boring. You don't do anything all day except read mystery novels and play Sudoku."

Dora: "You're right. I have been sitting around just passing time. It doesn't mean I'm boring, though. I've just forgotten who I am now that I'm not so busy taking care of the kids. I was actually a really great mother. I did a lot of creative things with the kids, and I bet I could apply those things to my own life now. By the way, Harriet, thanks for pointing out that I haven't been using my talents as well as I could be. Hey, any chance you play Sudoku? It's really quite challenging."

By Dora admitting to Harriet that her accusation has some truth to it, Harriet is silenced. Harriet's accusation is spiteful, based on a black and white judgement and deals solely with the past. Dora's argument, on the other hand, sees the shades of grey that real life is, and bases her argument on the here and now.

Moving Forward

Your inner critic has one sole purpose--to criticize you. She does this through the 6 major accusations listed above, and she is the first thing you'll have to control if you are to control your emotional eating.

The enemy is clear, then. Harriet's objective is on the table, as are her six weapons of personal destruction. Today you've discovered how to defend against the first two. Next week I'll go onto the remainder. If you'd like to get a head start, the ShrinkYourself Program is always just a click away.
As we continue on, please remember that the most empowering thing about all of this is that the bogey man (or woman in this case) has been exposed. Her mask is off. And her bite has been revealed to be no more than a vicious bark.

Harriet now knows that you know this. And soon she'll be on the ropes...
Don't give her an inch.

How to Stop Emotional Eating and Start Communicating

Jul 24, 2013 - 1 comments
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emotional eating

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controlEE

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Dr. Gould

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Roger Gould



We human beings are a social creature by nature. We interact with other people on many different levels: family; friend; wife; boss; co-worker; lover; enemy etc. And, human relationships being what they are, can often leave us in conflict with another person, which, depending on your personality, can send you into direct confrontation, or, as is more often the case, avoidance.

For emotional eaters, this kind of avoidance can forge a very unhealthy alliance with food. Put simply: the emotional eater will eat instead of confront (communicate). They will substitute the temporary "good feelings" that eating brings for the former relationships in their lives. It feels safer. There's no one watching. And there's no one to shout back at them.

The problem, of course, is that this kind of emotional eating will only continue to distance the emotional eater from the people in their lives. Yes, you may still find yourself in the same room with a person, but your desire (and ability) to confront them on the issues plaguing your relationship will only diminish as you choose to eat instead of communicate.

PEOPLE SKILLS

Another real problem that can arise from this kind of emotional eating is the erosion of people skills i.e. the normal day-to-day business of dealing with people. This is a natural skill that we develop as children, one that continues into adulthood. Withdrawing from relationships can weaken our people skills as we simply stop using them.

And over time, the blow to our own self-confidence and self-esteem can take its toll as we find ourselves shuddering at the thought of having to engage with others, be it in a group situation, or a one-on-one, and scrutinize ourselves (and our weight) with an ever-harsher tone.

VULNERABILITY

Perhaps what an emotional eater really hides from-by eating instead of communicating-is being vulnerable. When you confront another, you place yourself in a vulnerable position, a position in which you might lose the argument; you might look silly; you might even walk away feeling embarrassed or less than the other person.

The reality is that it takes courage to be vulnerable. Courage to be wrong. Courage to communicate.

It also takes courage to see yourself not as weak, or stupid, or less than, every time you've turned to emotional eating instead of facing another person. But simply as: being human. A work in progress. A person deserving of patience, and dignity and love-especially the love from your own self.

This is true courage. Wonderful courage. The kind of courage that sits within all of us, waiting to be tapped.

THE CHALLENGE

Relationships are challenging. There's simply no changing that. The good news is that what can be changed is you, and your ability in which to handle them. Turning to emotional eating instead of communicating is something we can start phasing out today. Yes, it requires effort and commitment and yes, courage, but it's a journey that leads to better health, better relationships and an even better you.

Now, that's something I think we can all agree upon.