Many people find that when they are knee-deep in the process of changing their unhealthy eating habits, they start to exhibit self-sabotaging behaviors that have a lot to do with the challenging process of accepting a new body.
Have you ever had one of these, or other similar thoughts?
• “Everyone says that I look so different but I still see the ‘fat’ me in the mirror”
• “I hope people don’t comment on my weight loss. It makes me feel so uncomfortable”
• “I know that I’m healthier but I still don’t like how I look.”
We can very easily get all tangled up in these negative self-judgments so that they dominate our awareness and have a huge influence over our behavior. This is a perfectly normal experience.
Here’s the thing about humans; we judge. And many of the judgments we make are useful and important: Is this person trustworthy or untrustworthy? Is this car a good value for the money? Is this fruit ripe or not? Unfortunately, though, many of our judgments, such as our own negative self-judgments, are not helpful. And when we hold onto these judgments tightly, or get all entangled with those judgments – such as, “I’m ugly,” “I’m too fat,” “I’m so vain” – they will dictate what we do and we will end up stuck and struggling.
So, what can we do to stop getting pushed around by all these negative self-judgments and allowing these thoughts to tell us what to do? We can learn how to separate, detach, or distance from our judgmental thoughts by taking a step back and seeing them for what they are: nothing more or less than words and pictures in our minds. I like to think of my mind as a judgment factory: it spends all day long making judgments. And whenever that judgment factory is making negative, self-defeating judgments about me I follow this three step process:
1. Notice what my mind is telling me; e.g. “My mind is telling me that I’m still fat.”
2. Acknowledge the Judgment Factory, e.g. “Looks like the judgment factory is working hard today!”
3. Do what matters, e.g. “I am willing to do what is important to me, even though my mind is pumping out all these judgments.”
Notice we are not trying to change these negative self-judgments – that is an exercise in futility. We are simply noticing them, separating from them, and then doing what matters. Our thoughts can have a lot of influence over our actions when we hold onto them tightly but when we detach they have much less influence. Our self-judgments do not have to control our actions!