Client Spotlight: Honesty as a Tool for Change

Today I’d like to highlight a client I’ll call Tricia. I’ve been working with Tricia for nearly 8 months.  She’s battled bulimia for years, but her recent breakthrough is a lesson that applies to anyone looking to make positive change in their life.
In short, Tricia decided to become transparent with me, her therapist, and most importantly with herself.  She decided that in order to make any progress, she needed to be 100% honest and aware of her internal dialogue as well as her actions. As a result, she’s made unbelievable progress. 
So I invite all of you to take a transparency check:
1.) Keep a thought log. Write down anything and everything that you think and feel about food in the course of a day. You will learn some fascinating information.
2.) Do you entertain thoughts that are half-truths in order to soothe, coddle, or distract yourself from reality?
3.) Are you honest with other people in your life as it relates to food?
Here are some examples of sugar-coated thoughts which stand in the way of progress:
  • I don’t need to make dinner tonight. It’s been a rough day and I really deserve something indulgent.
  • Another helping really isn’t going to hurt. Even though I’m full, I had a good work out!
  • I know I eat a lot of chocolate but it really does help me feel better. 
Note: all of the examples I gave reflect our tendency to meet our emotional needs with food. There is nothing inherently wrong with having some chocolate. The problem I’d like to highlight is the tendency we have to persuade ourselves that soothing, calming, and treating ourselves with food is ok.  The real problem is when these habits became frequent and deeply ingrained. Suddenly, food is our antidote for all of our emotional needs and none of those needs are getting met in a healthy way.
The first step to improving your relationship with food is honesty with yourself. Becoming more honest and aware of your thoughts and feelings, strengthens feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. This is incredibly empowering and takes you one step closer to positive change.