Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #199 – Learning To Free The Mind from Obessessive Food Thoughts

Taylor, almost 23, talks to Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, Marc David, and they unravel her feelings of wanting to be able to control her mind around food and body. A life-long athlete and recently graduated college cheerleader, Taylor recognizes that she is in transition into a move, a job, a different level of physical activity, and she’s looking for some guidance on how to find freedom from negative thoughts and unwanted behaviors with food. Marc works with her to uncover where the work is, and how she can actually use the desire to control her mind, in order to be patient with her journey, instead of letting the negative thoughts take over. She walks away with some key tools and breakthroughs to carry her forward.


Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Marc: Welcome, everyone. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. We are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m with Taylor today. Welcome, Taylor.

Taylor: Thank you.

Marc: I’m glad you’re here. And let me just say a few quick words to viewers and listeners. If you’re new to this podcast, here’s how it goes down. Taylor and I are just meeting for the first time. And we’re going to see if we can move her forward in whatever challenge is lurking around food, around body. So Taylor, let me ask you this question. If you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you want to get from our time together, what would that look like for you?

Taylor: I think that it would be that I would learn how to control my thoughts around food and body image, are my two main goals.

Marc: Learn how to control my thoughts around food and body image. And so the reason why you want to control those is…

Taylor: Because I do have a concern for those things. I feel like I’ve had a concern for body image for a while, just because of activities that I’ve grown up around. And then food has been more of a recent thing. I would say probably over the past three years that’s been more of a struggle, so kind of just getting in control of it before it takes a more downward path.

Marc: So when it takes a downward path, what might that look like for you?

Taylor: Constantly all day long thinking about what I’m going to eat that day, how’s it going to affect my body. Rather than I guess using food to nourish my body, it’s more of a hindering thought, I guess you could say, about what it’s going to do negatively to my body.

Marc: So when you do behaviors with food that you don’t want to do, what do those behaviors look like, so jumping from thoughts to actual what you do.

Taylor: Okay, well usually I’ll go on sprees where I’m very, very controlled as far as what I eat. And I eat the same thing every day and whatnot. And then I’ll go on times where that will get out of control, usually in the evening. I would say it’s more binge eating or overeating. But I know there’s a difference between those two. And then sometimes it even goes to the point where it’s like I’ve already eaten this much, I’ll just keep eating. And then it has more negative things, not necessarily bulimia, but it can lead to those things at times.

Marc: Sure, I get it. How long has this been going on for you?

Taylor: I would say probably about three years.

Marc: In your opinion, and I’m not expecting right answers but just because you know you pretty well, what do you think sparked it or contributed to it?

Taylor: It probably definitely started when I found out I was allergic to a lot of different foods. And so my diet was already going to be controlled. So that was a really hard transition. And it was fine, but then I guess since it was so controlled and so limited that when I would eat something that would, let’s say, make my stomach hurt, then it would kind of be like alright, well my stomach’s already hurting, so I’ll just eat more, if that makes sense.

Marc: Almost kind of like kicking yourself when you’re down a little bit.

Taylor: Right.

Marc: And the thoughts around body image, when did you first start to notice that?

Taylor: I’ve grown up doing competitive cheerleading my whole life. And so it’s always been something that coaches have stressed. I would say that I didn’t really notice it in high school, but I also cheered in college, and so that was a lot more strict. So I would say that that’s probably when it really started bothering me, just because you’re constantly around people that are tiny anyways. And also, it’s kind of just part of this sport — you have to be — so that balancing control.

Marc: Got it. So a lot of kind of you looking at what should I eat, what should my body look like, weigh like, be like, was driven by, essentially, cheerleading.

Taylor: Yes.

Marc: But you’re not cheerleading now.

Taylor: No, I’m not.

Marc: But it still kind of lives on a little bit, or maybe a lot sometimes. Do you notice times when you say to yourself, “Wow, this isn’t so bad this week,” times when you kind of love your body more or food is easier, and you don’t notice this, it’s just either way better or not as bad?

Taylor: That’s a hard one, maybe when I’m less stressed. It may depend upon what environment I’m in. That’s a difficult one. I feel like it’s something that’s constantly on my mind, so I don’t even know if I could pinpoint that.

Marc: Do you date? Are you in a relationship?

Taylor: I was. I’m not anymore. I’ve never been someone to be in deep relationships. So I date, I guess you could say. But I’m not in a relationship currently, no.

Marc: Got it. Your relationship with food and/or your relationship with your body, is that a piece of the puzzle in not dating or being in deep relationships? Or it’s just not where you’ve been at?

Taylor: No, I just think it’s not where I’ve been at. It’s just the way that I was raised. And so I think that that has a lot to do with it.

Marc: Sure, that makes total sense. So do you tend to skip meals? Do you eat breakfast and lunch?

Taylor: Yes, I probably eat about five times a day. I’m also currently a health coach, so that doesn’t help the fact that I’m telling other people how to do behaviors and what’s right and meal timing and all that craziness when it’s hard to control it myself.

Marc: Understood. Who’s your favorite kind of client?

Taylor: One that follows the rules.

Marc: That’s so great. What age group do you like to work with?

Taylor: I work with a variety. I work with people my age up to probably in their 60s and 70s. So I don’t know. It’s kind of different. I think I connect more with people my age, so I enjoy working with them because I understand where they’re coming from. But it’s good to get perspectives from people in all different age groups.

Marc: Do you have friends who face similar issues that you’re facing?

Taylor: I believe so.
Marc: How do they handle it?

Taylor: Negative behaviors. Not close, close friends, but other teammates, I would believe, probably suffer the same thing just because of things that you notice or changes in their body. But it’s not anything that they would discuss.

Marc: Sure, yeah, that’s pretty common I think. Sounds like we’re getting a little feedback. Just give me a second. Okay, we’re good. So you can’t really say if you’ve noticed times when you feel better about food, about body, except maybe when you’re less stressed. What are the kind of stressors that tend to kind of get to you?

Taylor: Let’s see, well currently I’ve gone through a big transition as far as graduating college, moving back to Dallas, starting a job, not being as active in cheerleading, which was just a huge part of my life. So I guess just a lot of life change has happened within the past few months. So that has a huge thing to do with my mood maybe. So work isn’t necessarily stress, but maybe stress as far as missing what was.

Marc: Makes total sense, yeah. So when you think to yourself, “Okay, Taylor, when this is all gone, and you’re not having this challenge anymore, and you’re in control of your mind and your thoughts around food, around your body, how would life be different? How would you be different? What would that look like?”

Taylor: I’d be able to enjoy life without forming my day around when and what I’m going to eat.

Marc: So you’d be able to enjoy your day without having to worry about all this eating stuff, when am I going to eat, what am I going to eat, how’s it going to impact me. Anything else, any other ways you’ll be different?

Taylor: Just, I guess, being happy with what is. I’m not as active as I was. Bodies go through changes as you get older. And it’s just accepting that fact and not comparing myself to others as much, just being happy with the current state that I’m in and not wanting better or wanting something different.

Marc: Okay. So I would love to talk about a few things with you, share some ideas and explore a little bit more with you about what would help move you forward.

Taylor: Okay.
Marc: I kind of find it interesting how you phrased it when I asked you at the beginning, “If you waved your magic wand, what would you get?” And you said, “More control over my mind, more control over my thoughts around food and body.” And on one level I kind of think that that’s really where the action is because it’s like the thoughts take over, and they run the show. And you notice that. And you feel that. And you experience it.

And then it sounds like yeah, there are these times, maybe, when you’re nice and controlled, and you’re on a regimen, and you eat everything every day that you’re supposed to eat, but then you don’t all of a sudden. Something triggers it, and all of a sudden you’re not in control over your mind. So to me what this tells us — and this is not just you, this is us, this is humans — we don’t always have control over our mind. Some people scare themselves.

People are sitting doing work, and they can’t focus on their work. They’re reading a book, and they can’t focus on the book. They’re in a conversation; they can’t focus on that. That’s inability to control the mind, whether it’s focusing it, whether it’s listening to somebody when they’re talking to you, or whether it’s being able to stop thinking the kinds of thoughts that are harming us. So all I’m saying is, it seems to be a feature of the human mind.

I don’t know that there’s anything particularly wrong with you. You’re unique. And at the same time you share this interesting phenomenon with so many other humans and so many other women and so many other young women, which is we get this little virus in our heads that, “I’ve got to look like this, and I’ve got to eat like this. And if I don’t look like this and if I don’t eat like this, something bad’s going to happen. Somehow this outcome is not going to be good.”

One of the reasons why I asked if you were in a relationship is what often happens is the world gives us the message that you’re not as lovable if you don’t look a certain way. Now the world, media, TV, images, internet, gives us pictures and all the images and all the Hollywood stuff and all the music videos. And we take on whatever kind of movie inside our head, whatever image we make up that we think we should have that would make us the most lovable.

“So when I have this body and when I eat this way, this way that I eat will create this body. And now this perfect body gives me goodies. People like it. People cheer. People clap. They throw me up in the air and catch me. It’s fun.” And we get a lot of nice feedback from the world, it seems, when we have a certain kind of body. So oftentimes that’s enough of a motivator to get people hooked, especially young people.
I’m talking to you right now as an older brother, really, on one level. I’m just you in a certain way but 30 something years older, having observed all this stuff and watched it and been fanatic about trying to understand it. And some of the simple, I want to say, truths or conclusions that I’ve come to is that the young mind is very impressionable.

And at certain points that impressionable mind, if it’s given certain inputs, it takes them on. When the impressionable mind is told you will be loved if you do the following, you will be adored, you will be okay in our eyes if you do the following, little kids, little people, we want to please the big people. We want to please the world. We want to do it right. We want to get the love. We want to be happy. We want to be popular. So it makes sense to me that you would have what sometimes becomes a bit of an obsession.

I really want to say to you why it makes sense. Sometimes before we get rid of something we have to understand, really, really understand, why it’s there and what purpose it serves. If you want to get rid of an unwelcome guest in your house, and they’re not getting the message, the more you understand who they are and what they’re about and how you can communicate with them, the more you can actually talk to them so they hear you, the more you can get what you want.

So this is an unwelcome guest, but we have to really have to learn about this guest. And in a weird way you have to make the guest more welcome. And you’re already doing this. So I think you’re already doing this. I’m just saying I want you to do this more. And the more that I want you to do is to really examine why is this here and how is this serving me. Why is this here? How is this serving me? I’ve already given you my thoughts on why it’s here and how it’s serving you. It’s here because the world programmed it into your mind. Certain life experiences reinforce that.

So you do competitive cheerleading. And there’s a benefit to that. It’s fun. There are accolades. You have to look a certain way. You get used to that. And we don’t want to give it up. We don’t want to give it up. I totally get it. And in the maturing process, because you’ve identified also… how old are you?

Taylor: About to turn 23.

Marc: All right, well happy birthday soon.

Taylor: Thank you.
Marc: You’ve identified to yourself that, “Wow, I’m in some transition,” graduating school, moving back to Dallas, taking on a job, leaving behind this whole other life that treated you well, to a great degree. And now you’ve got to play adult more. So you’re in a transition. And you’re not a college kid anymore.

Taylor: No.

Marc: But you’re also not the worldly adult yet. You’re just not. There’s no blame. You’re this weird hybrid. And so you’re in a transition zone. And in that transition zone, transitions often have the quality of a little bit of chaos and uncertainty.

So I’m actually glad that we’re having this conversation now because in this transition time, the things that don’t serve us tend to get emphasized more. The strategies that don’t work for us so well tend to come to the forefront when we’re in a transition, because in a transition to get from one place to another you have to leave certain nonsense behind. And you have to take on certain new things. So there’s baggage we have to let go of. And there are new energies, information, responsibilities that we need to pick up.

So to me what’s happening, and I’m just kind of looking at this snapshot of where I see you at in your life story, you’re at the part of your life story where you’re transitioning from young princess in school to slightly wiser princess stepping out into the world, who’s going to really start to ground herself in a whole different way and mature in ways that you haven’t matured in before. And that’s a beautiful thing. It’s a wonderful thing.

So all I’m saying is expect that there’s going to be this mirror sort of held up to your face that says, “Okay, Taylor, here are a few things to look at.” And you’re doing it. You’re responding. You’re saying, “Okay, I’ve got to look at this. I’ve got to get control over my mind.”

So I’m saying so far, so good. I’m really happy for you that you’re taking this on. I really feel like you’re taking this on. And you’ve got your eyes on it. And you know you don’t want to be doing it. And you know you beat yourself up sometimes. And you know it doesn’t feel good. So you’ve got your eyes set on the right horizon. And that’s the most important thing right now, honestly. That’s the most important thing because what I want to say is you’re not going to get where you want to go tomorrow.

Taylor: Right.

Marc: I wish you could. I really do. I wish there was a pill or some magic book that you read that makes it all better and makes it all go away. But what I notice for the young people of the world is we need to go through a journey. And it’s the journey that strengthens us.

So you’re on a journey right now. And it’s the journey into saying goodbye to the girl who was in her late teens and very early 20s. And you’re taking on more. And when we take on more, we have to have more of us. So in order for you to step into the world in a bigger way and take on more responsibility and have more come to you, more of the benefits of the world come to you, we have to be more available. We have to have more of our power available, more of our consciousness, more of our light.

So right now your light gets dampened when you go into food, body, I don’t like this, need to lose weight, shouldn’t eat this, should’ve eaten that. When you do that, you’re dimming your light. And you know that. So this becomes for you a slow, steady practice. Really, that’s what it is. It’s a slow, steady practice. And I promise you, I promise you, as you truly understand that and get it, you get where you want to go faster because what happens is humans can get a little lazy I think. We don’t always like to do the hard work.

Taylor, I meet women in this podcast in their 60s and 70s who are talking to me about the same thing you are right now. And it should’ve been handled 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. But what happens is we get a little stuck sometimes. And we don’t have the right roadmap. If we don’t have the right roadmap, we don’t get out.

Right now I’m going to say you’ve got the right roadmap. And the roadmap is you’ve got your eyes on this now. You know you want to change it. You see in the horizon that I’ve got to get control over my mind. And I think you’re getting also that this dims your light. And if you want to show up in this world and be in your power and be the best woman and the best human that you can possibly be, then that means slow, steady practice in gaining control over your mind. It’s a practice.

I’ve been practicing this conscientiously probably since my early teens, when I first started studying martial arts. My martial arts teacher taught me, “You’ve got to get control over your mind. That’s how you get control over your body.” And I remember thinking, “Huh, that makes sense.”

And sure enough, if you practice it, and you focus your mind, you can focus your body. That’s what you do. If you’re a competitive cheerleader, or if you’ve been cheerleading, you know that, yeah, you’ve got to be real focused on your body. You’ve got to be focused in your mind to do what you do to be safe, to do it well. So you know what that kind of focus can do. It creates excellence.

So you already have a certain skill. What I would love to see you do is to slowly, over time, translate that skill, the skill called cheerleading and doing amazing things with your mind and athleticism, and now you’re going to focus that intention to gain control over your thoughts around your body. And the way you do that is not like willpower, I can control this; I can do it.

No, don’t think that. No. It’s less that, and it’s more noticing when the negative thoughts come up. And instead of trying to resist it at first, what you do is you go, “Oh, there’s me thinking this thought again.” So you want to have a moment of awareness. You want to catch yourself while you’re doing it. That’s how you change any unconscious habit. You introduce consciousness.

Somebody who’s chain smoking, they don’t even get it. They don’t even feel it. They don’t even see it. They’re just doing it. They have to introduce awareness and consciousness in a place where they normally go unconscious. So you literally have to catch yourself, go, “Oh, here’s me, Taylor, doing that thing again, going down that dark tunnel again. Here’s me going there.”

And in that place, once you observe yourself, the next move is… and you have to decide how you do this. It’s either you forgive yourself or you send yourself a little love in the moment. I don’t like these thoughts, I don’t like this behavior necessarily, but I still love the person who’s doing these thoughts and doing these behaviors.

What happens is, when we start to do something we don’t like to do, we self hate, and we self attack, which would be no different than if your friends or your parents, every time you did something wrong, said to you, “Sorry, Taylor, we don’t love you. We think you’re this horrible human. And we’re not going to love you again until you eat a certain way or look a certain way.”

That would be awful. If somebody said that to us it would sound awful. And those people wouldn’t be your friend. But that’s how we talk to ourselves often. So what I’m saying to you is you have to start to observe these processes in your mind. You have to forgive yourself and say, “I don’t like the thoughts. I don’t like the behavior. But I still love the person doing it,” i.e., you.

So you really embrace yourself in that moment. And when you do that, the need to attack self starts to lessen. And you’ll develop a momentum that will strengthen your choosing muscles.

So I don’t expect you to be perfect. I don’t expect you to disappear this overnight. It could take years. But you get better and better and better at it. And the better you get at it, the more empowered you are because you’re not being controlled by the thoughts that the world has taught you to think. This is millions and millions of people thinking these things. So it’s not unique. It’s unique to you because you do it in your unique way. But what I’m saying is this is a collective challenge. And I say that so you take it a little bit less personally. You know what I’m saying?

Taylor: Yes.

Marc: So what you’re doing is personal for sure because it’s happening in you, and you feel it. But this is something that so many people are literally doing battle with because it’s so hard. And it’s so insidious. So what I think is if you kind of decide for yourself, “This is going to be a journey, and I’m committed to standing by myself,” one of the ways you stand by yourself is you be a good friend.

So when your friend’s in trouble, you don’t abandon them. You don’t start insulting them and kicking them when they’re down. So when you notice you start to get in trouble, it’s you learning. So when you get stressed, when you’re about to reach for the food, even if you’re going to binge eat, even if you’re going to binge eat, I actually want you to slow down and love yourself while you’re binge eating as best you can. “Okay, I can’t stop this right now. I want to eat more food than I know I should. I don’t have the mental capacity to make myself stop, but you know something? I’m going to do this. I’m going to pay attention. I’m going to focus. I’m going to enjoy it. And I’m going to forgive myself afterwards” because you’re going to do it anyway sometimes.

So what I’m asking you to do is when you find yourself overeating or binge eating, whatever you want to call it, I want you to do it really slow because what you’re wanting when you overeat or binge eat is an experience. We want the food to give us something. That’s why we’re going for it. The food is giving us something. It’s giving us relief. It’s giving us pleasure. It’s giving us nourishment. It’s de-stressing us. It’s making us feel good in the moment. That’s why you do it. It’s stress relief.

And it’s pleasure enhancing, at least for some brief amount of time. That’s the only treason why you would do it. It gives you pleasure. It gives you relief. It gives you something good. So all I’m saying is great, then if you’re going to do it, slow it down, because a lot of times when we binge eat and we overeat, we do it really fast. And when you do it fast, you actually are missing the experience.
So when you slow down an experience, you actually learn how to do it better. We could talk really fast, but if I was talking really fast, you’re not going to understand me. There’s not going to be real communication happening. But if we slow down and we really listen to each other and talk to each other, we can learn. If you’re practicing a new move and a new technique, you first have to break it down. You’ve got to do it slow. You have to know okay, first this way, that way, this move, that move, count this, count that.

So you have to break it down. So that’s what I’m asking you to do with food. I’m asking you to start to slow down any behavior that you don’t want to be doing. And I want you to turn it into a behavior that you’re choosing to do. So if you’re about to binge eat or overeat, and it’s late at night, and you go, “Oh God, here’s this moment again. Okay, I’m about to eat. I don’t really want to. Is there something else I can do? Can I make a phone call? Can I turn on some music? Can I go take a walk? Is there something else that I can substitute for that?”

If you can generate that for yourself, great. If you can’t, and you know you’re going to eat, then choose to eat, because you’re going to do it anyway. What’s happening is now you’re making an empowered choice. You’re saying, “Oh, I’m going to do this anyway, so I might as well do it.” Slow it down. And when you do that, again, you’re strengthening your choosing muscle. You’re slowing it down.

And what’s going to happen is you’re going to start to overeat or binge eat less. That’s what you’re going to notice, particularly when you slow it down, because you’re going to start to see actually how much food you really need and how much food you don’t. You’re going to regulate your body better. So I’m suggesting that as both a short term and a long term strategy. It’s going to be very, very helpful for you, I think, so something very practical that you can do.

So how’s this all landing for you so far? What are your thoughts? What are you thinking? Is this at all helpful?

Taylor: Yes, it’s helpful. And I like the slowing down part because you’re right on that one. And then, yeah, I guess just noticing when it’s coming so that I’m more aware of it. Or things throughout the day that may lead to that or whatnot, I just need to be more aware of it.

Marc: It’s no different than, I don’t know, have you ever known anybody who gets blackout drunk? They get drunk. They do stuff. And afterwards they have no memory whatsoever of what happened. That happens to people. So in order to be blackout drunk, essentially a part of us is completely absent. A part of us has checked out. The part of us that’s checked out, let’s call it our executive function. It’s the part of our brain, your prefrontal cortex, that basically controls the deal and monitors everything and oversees and makes the big picture decisions about what’s going on. It’s the part of us that’s awake. In order for humans to do something that they’re going to really regret later, a part of them goes to sleep. Otherwise we can’t do it. We can’t do the thing that we’re going to regret. We have to blackout in some way, shape, or form. So a part of you goes unconscious when you do these behaviors.

Again, the only way, and I really mean this, to change such behaviors that are unconscious is to introduce consciousness. Another way of saying that is introduce awareness or wakefulness or the kind of activity that gets your mind opened up to say, “Oh, here’s what I’m doing in this moment. Oh, wait a second. I have a say in this. Oh, I remember Marc said, ‘slow down in these moments, really slow down.’” There’s nothing wrong with that on one level. I’m just asking you to enjoy the thing you’re doing. So if you’re going to eat food because you’re trying to use it to make you feel better, then great. Do that. Actually do that. Eat the food. Be aware. Be present. Taste it. Make it the best meal you ever had or the best bunch of snack food, whatever you’re eating. Choose to enjoy it. That’s going to be a little hard. But it’s going to completely change your relationship to this behavior. And you’re going to see it in a whole different light. And you’re going to treat it different. And you’re going to treat yourself differently. And you’re going to gradually get better and better at eating. You’re going to get better and better at regulating your emotions and your body in a more empowering way because there will be moments where you’re going to either eat less, and you’ll feel better about yourself. And there’ll be moments when you’re going to choose not to eat, and you’ll feel that victory. And it came from staying awake.

And again, I want to say this is not easy work. This is why people don’t do it. Being an athlete is not easy work. Training your mind is not easy work. Transforming an unwanted habit is not easy work. But it’s really worth doing. The benefits are pretty amazing. What else for you, other thoughts about slowing down, important, does that make sense for you?

Taylor: Definitely, so rather than avoiding the situation, I just need to accept the situation, is what you’re saying.

Marc: Yes. Accept it and embrace it because fighting it doesn’t necessarily work. Now I’m not saying give up and surrender. What I’m saying is if you know you’re going to do something, because there’s a moment where we end up doing the behavior, there’s a moment where you’re going to end up overeating or binge eating at different times — you might end up purging — I want you to have compassion for you as if you’re your good friend. “Oh, this is Taylor trying to work it out, trying to work things through.”

This stuff ain’t easy. If this was easy we’d all be not doing it. So this is you trying to work it out. Can you throw some love in your direction? If you throw self hate and self attack, then you’re going to do more self hate and self attack. And then it becomes behaviors about, “Oh, I gotta control my food more. Oh, I gotta make my body look even better because that’ll finally make me feel better.”

So when we don’t stay awake, the behaviors get more extreme, or they become more painful to us. So forgiving yourself means you’re human. It happens. Accept it, love yourself, stand by yourself like a good friend. And, yeah, you might feel bad. “I couldn’t stop myself. And next time I’ll try again.”

So it’s learning compassion and forgiveness. Forgiveness is huge because as soon as you forgive yourself, you have a fresh start. And you might have to forgive yourself a thousand times. The other option is to punish yourself. Punishing ourselves does not lead us down the road of transformation. It doesn’t lead us to a road of higher moral ground. It doesn’t happen that way. It just leads to more self hate and more punishment.

So again, I just really wanted to emphasize for you, as much as I know it’s hard for you, you’re in a good place. You’re really in a good place because you’re mature enough and aware enough and determined enough to help yourself. And like I said, that’s everything. The desire to figure this out is huge.

Do you have any questions for me, any wonderings about anything that I’ve been sharing with you?

Taylor: Not that I can really think of off the top of my head. Any ideas around having thoughts around food throughout the day?

Marc: Yes. Great question, thank you. Thoughts are more subtle things. Eating something, okay, that’s a more dense activity. It involves food, putting it in your mouth. You have to go get the food at the refrigerator, at the store, at the restaurant, wherever it is. Thoughts can occur any given moment, any time of day, any place.

You could be in a conversation with somebody and just go off in thought in your head. So once again I want you to look at the thoughts in your head as you are on a program of learning how to train your mind. Learning how to train your mind is no different than training yourself in a new language, training yourself in a sport, training yourself in a skill, training yourself in a job. Training the mind is a skill. Humans train their minds to do different things.

You could train your mind to become a dentist. You could train your mind to become an artist. You could train your mind to become a carpenter. So you can make the mind focus itself. But it’s training. So what I’m saying is that it takes time to learn how to manage our thoughts so the thoughts aren’t managing us. Right now your thoughts get the better of you. You’re aware of that. And you’re going, “There’s something not right about this.” And you’re correct. That’s not the highest expression of a human being.

One of the attributes of the highest expression of a human being is a human being who is in control of her or his thoughts to the degree that they could then show up in the world in a good way, in an effective way, in an ethical way and a moral way, in a way that has excellence in it. So the way you train your mind, it’s the same thing you notice when the thoughts pop up. You literally notice them.

“Oh, wow, here’s me hating on myself.” Now oftentimes what I’ll do when that moment happens, when I catch myself in a self attacking thought, deep breath. In order to take a deep breath you have to become more conscious. I’m asking you to find little tricks to wake yourself up when you’re thinking negative thoughts because otherwise the negative thoughts just take over. And they have a momentum.

And they keep going, keep going, keep going. We literally binge on our own negative thinking. So you wake yourself up, deep breath, “Oh, here I go again,” so a deep breath. You might have to take two or three or four more deep breaths. And you might choose an affirmation or a statement that works for you or has meaning for you such as, “I’m going to love myself in this moment. I choose to love myself in this moment.”

Or “I’m going to let that thought go. I’m not going to let that thought dominate me today. I’m more worthy than that. I deserve to talk to myself with love and respect.” I want you to find a languaging that works for you. But I just gave you some examples. If you’re a religious girl, then you find something maybe that helps you from that angle. Whatever helps you get in contact with yourself, whatever helps you get in contact with a higher power so you wake up in that moment, that’s training your mind. It doesn’t mean when I learn a new language that I’m going to study for one day and learn the new language. No, it’s going to take weeks, months, years. So this is a lifelong process.

I’m still doing the same thing. I’m still learning how to manage and control my mind. I learned to control my mind at a young age so I was able to go through school and go through professional school and write books, mind control. So that’s what you’re learning.

And the tool and technique that I just mentioned, you become aware; you notice. When you’re going into thought that doesn’t work, deep breath, maybe even two or three, and then a statement to yourself that enhances you and that contributes to you and that opens up your mind or your heart or your spirit as opposed to, “Oh, don’t do that, Taylor.”

So it’s not attacking ourselves or trying to fight, but we’re actually replacing the negative thought. We’re putting alongside it something that’s uplifting and positive because that’s what we want at the end of the day. We want something uplifting and positive not something negative. You follow me?

Taylor: Yes.

Marc: Is that something you think you can try out for yourself?

Taylor: Absolutely.

Marc: Yeah, that’s what I’m simply calling the main technique to move forward with, to practice every day. It’s a practice. Practice makes perfect to learn how to slowly gain more control over the mind. Yeah, it’s just like progressive weight lifting. You just lift a little bit each day, a little bit each day, and then you go up a bit, and then you go up a bit. You slowly get stronger.

Taylor: Right.

Marc: Yeah.

Taylor: Yeah, both of those things I can definitely do. That’s something easy that I just have to consciously do.

Marc: Yeah, and I have confidence in you. I believe in you. I feel like you can do this. I really do. And you also might want to do one more thing. You might want to ask yourself, “For me to heal this, for me to conquer this, for me to get to the other side of this and be an empowered woman — how do I want to say this — how can I deserve that? What would make me deserving of that? How would I give back? How would I use my newfound personal strength and power?” So yeah, that’s just what I would ask. Who would you be? How would you contribute? How would you be different in the world? How would you treat others different? Would you see them differently, with more compassion, what? So you don’t have to answer that now, but just something to think about is how your healing and transformation can contribute to others.

Taylor: Absolutely.

Marc: Yeah. Taylor, you’ve been such a good sport.

Taylor: I appreciate all your help.

Marc: Yeah, and I really appreciate you being in this dialogue with me. And I really hope this was helpful for you.

Taylor: It definitely was.

Marc: Okay.

Taylor: Work in progress.

Marc: Yeah, we are all a work in progress. And you’re a work in progress. And just be so patient with yourself and know that you’re young, and when you’re young that’s a time when things are rocky. And it’s okay. It’s okay. But you’re learning how to ride the bucking bronco here.

Taylor: Right.

Marc: Okay, well I so appreciate you. And we get to have a follow up session in a bunch of months. Somebody from the team will reach out to you, and we’ll set up a time.

Taylor: Okay. Thank you so much.

Marc: Thanks so much, sweetie. And thank you, everybody, for tuning in.

Once again, I’m Marc David. On behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast, always more to come. Take care, Taylor.

Taylor: Bye. Thank you.

Marc: Bye bye.

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About The Author
Marc David
Founder

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.