I’ll say it straight out. Most compulsive overeaters feel hopeless about their overeating.
They feel like it will never change. They feel like they can never love themselves or their life as long as they are overweight.
They feel hopeless and defeated.
I’m here to let you know, this can change.
Naming the emotions of “hopelessness” and “shame” can be very helpful. I suggested to one of my clients a few weeks ago that she could identify shame in her head: telling herself, “Right now I’m feeling shame” every time she noticed she was feeling that way.
To her surprise, it came up a lot more often than she expected. She began to realize how many times each day she felt ashamed of herself or her body.
She also felt a shift when she named this emotion. She noticed that the shame was less unpleasant when she named it, and she was less likely to get paralyzed by the feeling.
When I name shame, I notice a definite “letting go” quality in my emotions. It’s less like I’m fighting the shame, trying to make it go away, and more like I’m accepting it, as an unpleasant but normal part of life that will pass.
Naming the emotion can also help with hopelessness.
Somehow, by putting a label on it, we have already changed something. Rather than telling ourselves “My situation is hopeless,” we begin to realize “I’m feeling hopeless about my situation.” There is an enormous difference between these two thoughts.
The feeling of hopelessness overcomes most of us at some point on our life journey. It happens when we don’t have the resources we need to face the situation in front of us.
By defining it that way, already we begin to think of possible solutions. “What might help me in this situation? Where can I find the tools to move on?”
Unfortunately, for most compulsive overeaters this is where the diet mentality slips in. Many compulsive overeaters, when they feel hopeless, decide to start an extreme diet or exercise routine, to prove to themselves they can do something about their situation.
If you’ve read my other blogs, you know that diets don’t work. That is, many people lose weight for a few months through dieting, but 95% of dieters regain that weight plus 5 or 10 more pounds each time they diet. In the long run, dieting makes you heavier.
So, the next time you feel hopeless about your weight, don’t start an extreme diet. Consider, instead, telling yourself some of the positive affirmations below:
“I can love myself, even if I am overweight”
“I can adopt a healthy lifestyle, even if I still eat more than I should.”
“I can work to resolve my compulsive overeating issues, even while I am not completely binge free.”
“I can recover from compulsive overeating, one bite at a time.”
If you don’t know where to start, schedule a free 20 minute telephone assessment with me, Tory Butterworth, PhD. I can start you on the path of hope for moving past your compulsive eating issues and creating a rich, full life.