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Monday, 28 September 2009

Reframing #101

The only thing that makes me abandon my resolve to take great care of myself is pain. It can be emotional pain ~ frustration, boredom, failure, sadness, loneliness, confusion; or physical pain ~ sore muscles, headache, tiredness, cramps, indigestion. My instant escape valve from pain is to eat something I consider a treat, and to eat a lot of it, because the longer I am involved in the sensory delight of eating, the longer I can forget about the pain.

Unfortunately, when the eating is done, I have a whole lot more pain to deal with ~ disgust, a sense of failure, and a desire to punish myself to make amends for my lack of control. I increase the level of pain in my life which guarantees that sooner or later I'll end up self medicating with food again. And so the cycle continues ...

Imagine a recent time when you did something that you regret, and are ashamed of. I bet it had something to do with food, didn't it? Was it that extra helping of dessert? Or that handful of sweets stuffed down your throat while no-one was looking? Or did you just keep going back for more and more peanut butter until the jar was empty? As you remember every detail of that episode, how does it make you feel? Better or worse than before you thought about it?

We give every event in our lives meaning. Our actions and feelings following events depend on the meaning we give to the event. Normally this meaning is given unconsciously. We can't change how we feel about something by deciding to think conscious positive thoughts, but we can use a little brain magic to improve our unconscious reactions ~ it is called REFRAMING. And the best part is that is simple, instant and permanent.

This is what I see in my head when I think about the other day when I ate something crappy when I was tired, frustrated and needed to escape from feeling bad. This picture reminds me that I was out of control, disgusting and weak. I need a good slap and more discipline. I need to get tougher on myself because I can't be trusted to 'eat what I want' when this is what I do. There is no way I am loving and accepting that!

Now I imagine the same image but I turn down the colour, I make it blurry and out of focus, I make it appear smaller by surrounding it with white space and I add a frame.

This image is exactly the same but completely different. How do I feel about this view of the same event?
What do you feel when you look at this picture?

I can see someone who is hurting, someone who in pain and needs comfort. There is a fragile vulnerability that is compelling and beautiful. There is no way that this person needs more rules, more discipline or punishment, they need love and understanding. I need love and understanding. I need to take better care of myself and treat myself with kindness. The feelings of powerlessness, disgust and weakness have been replaced with feelings of compassion. I can deeply and completely love and accept this image of myself.

Try scrolling back up to the original picture. I bet you can't look at it in the same way as you did before. Your feelings have changed permanently because your perspective has changed.

I didn't repeat positive affirmations for days on end, I didn't go to therapy to figure out why I eat as a coping strategy, and I didn't write a list of all the things that I have done successfully. I literally REFRAMED the picture in my head by altering the colour, sharpness, size and surroundings of the same image. My subconscious mind now adds a different meaning to the event without me needing to 'work through it'. I am now in a powerful positive emotional state where I have access to my skills, imagination and motivation to change the outcome.

Hokey pokey brain magic ... and there's much more where that came from ...

[who knew Photoshopping was a weight mastery technique!]


  1. Anonymous5:47 am

    Great post!! unfortunately i know the feeling all too well, but i am changing that slowly but surely!

  2. I think it's fascinating how we think has so much bearing on how we feel. Great post, Katie!