Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode #181: Letting Go of the Bully Within

For many years, Devorah has fought her body to lose weight. Going on diet after diet, she has the ideal weight in mind and is continually frustrated with how out of reach it has been. Even with her husband’s support and reassurance that she is fine the way she is now, she knows there has always been that little voice inside that says she needs to keep pushing herself to look better and weigh less. In this really important session, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, walks with Devorah on this journey to discovering where these thoughts and beliefs about herself began. He helps her see how she, the victim of bullying as a child, has become her own worst bully. Listen in as Devorah makes great discoveries about herself, her body, her health, her relationship with her mother, and how to begin healing in a really big way.

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. We are back in the Psychology of Eating podcast, and I’m with Devorah today. Welcome, Devorah.

Devorah: Hi, Marc.

Marc: Hey. I’m so glad you’re doing this. And, Devorah, let me just tell new viewers and listeners just kind of how this works. So Devorah and I are just meeting now, and we’re going to have a session together. And we’re going to see if we can just help push the fast forward button on transformation as best as we can and come up with some good ideas.

So, Devorah, for you, if you could wave your magic wand and if you can get whatever you wanted to get from this session, what would that look like for you?

Devorah: Okay. Well, I made a list. Peace, power, no more shame, healing of all my relationships because I think food is symbolic of all relationships. I want to feel more like a victor and less like a victim. I want to feel like I don’t have to apologize for who I am. I’m in a healing profession. I’m a nurse, a registered nurse. And sometimes I feel like a hypocrite because I don’t follow the advice that I give. I want to feel a sense of abundance, and I guess the bottom line is I want to be able to fill that hole that’s inside of me that I seek to fill or that I notice when I’m binging. And it just doesn’t seem to fill up until I’ve eaten till I’m sick to my stomach.

Marc: Got it. Got it. Got it. Okay, that’s a nice, big magic wand wish. I like how you’re going for it. I appreciate that. So let me ask you this question. You started talking a little bit in there about kind of how things show up for you around food and body. Tell me a little bit more about your relationship with food, your relationship with your body.

Devorah: Okay, my relationship with food, I remember being obsessed with food for as far because as my earliest memories go. I remember like having a fight with my mother, may she rest in peace, about… One of my very first memories: I wanted watermelon, and we didn’t have watermelon. We only had cantaloupe. And she kept offering me cantaloupe, and I started crying, “No! I want watermelon!” That was actually one of my first memories.

Also, even if you look at my toddler pictures, I’m like really roly-poly. I was the fat kid in the class even at a time when childhood obesity wasn’t as much of a problem as it is now. And I was always like told I shouldn’t eat so much. I was made fun of. I was bullied for being fat. I was punished for eating things that were forbidden, so they became a “forbidden fruit”. And I learned how to sneak eat. I was very good at it. I was actually very severe—some of my worst punishments were for eating.

My mother, may she rest in peace, was a diabetic, and she took insulin twice a day. She would stick herself and, “You see what happens to you if you don’t stop eating so much?” And I know like trying to get in touch with my own appetite, trying to slow down, and I find I can’t do it. I find I don’t know what my natural appetite is. I’m always in a state of either being on a diet, trying to be on a diet, feeling guilty that I should be on a diet, and then just getting out of control and then hating myself afterwards for it.

I’ve been thin. I’ve gone through various diet programs. I am an OA dropout. I can’t do it anymore, but I have been “abstinent” for a long time. I was the 90-day wonder. When I was doing this program, I was like a perfectionist. But I was never still happy. I always felt that there’s more. Life could send you some curveballs, whether you’re fat or whether you’re thin. It doesn’t make a difference. But I felt like a certain, I don’t know, like, “Ha! I’ve got it. I’m thin. Finally, they’re not going to make fun of me for it, and it’s good.”

I’m like in a way almost like, “I’m better than them now because I’ve achieved it.” But I was always that one bite away that they talk about, and if for any reason I gave into that one bite which I think was inevitable because I don’t think it’s possible to be perfect, perfect forever. I think you could be perfect for a day, a week, a month, even a few years, but I don’t think it’s possible to do it forever, at least not for me.

And I would just do that one little thing extra and forget it. That would be the end, and I just totally lost it. I’ve yo-yoed my whole life. I’m so sick of it, and I know that it’s very unhealthy to gain weight. It’s better to just stay one weight than to gain and lose and gain and lose and gain and lose. And I just don’t want to do that anymore.

Marc: How long has that been happening for you? Like, when did you first start dieting again?

Devorah: I went on my first real, real diet when I was 10 years old in the summer between fifth and sixth grade. And I was getting all sorts of praise and everything. And then, the day before sixth grade my mother passed away, and that was the end of my diet, of course, because she was my biggest cheerleader. And all the beautiful clothes that my aunt had taken me shopping for… She had taken me to Lord & Taylor, Saks 5th Avenue, and I had never been to these stores in my life. And I had these beautiful dresses, and I was so excited. Of course, within like two or three months, that was the end of being able to wear those.

Marc: So who raised you?

Devorah: For four years, my father’s mother raised us, and then my father remarried when I was 14.

Marc: So then you moved back in with your dad and your stepmom?

Devorah: Well, no. My grandmother lived with us.

Marc: I see. But you were living with grandmother, dad, stepmom.

Devorah: Yeah, right after they remarried, then she moved out. My stepmother didn’t really want her staying with us, which I, looking back on, kind of understand it. You’re newly married. You don’t really want your mother-in-law with you. It’s enough taking on your second husband’s children, plus to have a mother-in-law, so then she didn’t live with us anymore.

Marc: Do you live alone now?

Devorah: No, I’m married.

Marc: How long have you been married?

Devorah: I have been married 38+ years.

Marc: And do you have kids?

Devorah: Yes.

Marc: How old?

Devorah: Ranging from 37 to 21.

Marc: Oh, how sweet.

Devorah: Yeah. And grandchildren.

Marc: Let me ask you this question. So I’m going to be bopping all over the place as you can tell, by the way. I’m just kind of gathering up all the information that’s helpful for me. That’s why all these questions that don’t necessarily seem to be related. Do you have a number in your mind about how much you want to weigh?

Devorah: The magic number is always 125.

Marc: Oh, okay. That’s a nice number. 125. How much do you weigh now?

Devorah: Don’t know. Don’t want to look at the scale.

Marc: Mmhmm. That makes sense. Okay. So there’s a magic number for you. And you imagine that when you hit that magic number, what would happen? Like what do you tell yourself?

Devorah: I’ll be able to go to the doctor and get on the scale and not be scared to face the number. I’ll be proud of the number. Other than that, I’ll be able to wear clothes. I won’t feel nervous about going to the store and hating the way I look in clothes and just not wanting to buy anything. I’ll just feel that sense of lighter.

Like I said before, I know that life does not all of a sudden magically change—the sun doesn’t shine any brighter. You don’t win the lotto. Everything doesn’t wonderfully fall into place just because you’re thin. I’m aware of that. But I guess a certain satisfaction almost like, “Look, Ma! I did it!” And all the family members like when we used to go visiting and say, “Ah, look. She got a little fatter. She gained weight.” It’s almost like, “No! I’m finally thin! Finally!”

Marc: I get it. Good for you. You actually have this well thought out, so I like that. How does your husband feel about your body?

Devorah: My husband feels as long as I’m not absolutely obese that he’s okay and I should stop obsessing about it. I should just be a normal person, and I should just eat like a normal person, stop trying to always be on a diet. And if I would just stop being on a diet, then I’ll be able to eat normal things. He’s one of these people who really—he eats to live and doesn’t live to eat. He’s the type of person that if he’s eating cookies, he’ll eat them for a few days or whatever. He’ll have the package, and if there’s three left and he decides he doesn’t want anymore, eh, that’s it. Fine. And it’ll go in the garbage. I’m not like that.

Marc: Sure.

Devorah: And I should cook normal food and just be normal. And he doesn’t understand why I’m so obsessed with this, but he’s lived with me a long time. And he knows that’s the way I am.

Marc: So what do you think, and this is an opinion question. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong, but I want your opinion about you because you know you better than anybody else.

Why do you think it’s been such a challenge for you to get where you want to go in terms of loving your body, being satisfied, feeling empowered, feeling at peace, feeling comfortable in your skin? What do you think holds you back? What gets in the way?

Devorah: What gets in the way? A few things. Number one, again, it’s almost like I have voices in my head, criticizing me and saying, “You see? You see? Look how fat you are. Look how gross. Look how disgusting you look. Look at you. You can’t eat. You’re not eating like a human being. You’re letting yourself go all to your urges, and you’re just eating like an animal.”

And there’s also this thing of like not enough. Financially, we struggle. My husband works. We live in a community that we have certain extra costs. We have to do things. How do I explain this? He likes certain religious dietary requirements that just cost a lot and a certain religious dress code. I can’t just wear jeans and a t-shirt. I have to wear skirts, tops, dress more… These things cost more and just certain things.

There’s almost like that not having enough. I live in a community I didn’t grow up in, and sometimes I just feel like I don’t fit in as much as I would like to. And I don’t know if that has anything to do with my eating, but not living here there’s almost like a certain cognitive dissonance. Like I sometimes feel like I’m in no-man’s land. I don’t belong where I grew up. I don’t 100% belong here. And also, I’m tired. I work night shift, and I can’t go home and go to sleep for seven-and-a-half hours in the daytime. I have too much to do. I worked last night, and I got now like one-and-a-half hours. Part of it’s I was nervous about this session, so I couldn’t sleep well. But I don’t sleep, and sometimes I just come home from work. And I have to unwind, but I know I have to make supper. And I know I have to do this, this, but I really want to sleep. But I can’t. I once heard somebody say, “Either you sleep or you eat. If you can’t sleep, you eat to stay up.” And I do that.

Marc: Got it. Okay. I think I have a good bit of information to just offer some thoughts and some feedback and some advice. So what I like about your situation is that you’re a smart lady and you have a lot of good understandings and distinctions about yourself, maybe even more than you realize.

When I asked you when this all started, oftentimes, oftentimes, not always, but when we’re trying to unwind something that we haven’t been able to fix and unwind for decades, that usually means we’ve got to kind of look at how things began to get a sense of why they’re so difficult to unwind. Because that’s what we have to do sometimes. Sometimes you don’t have to go back to the past. And the story that you shared about your early days and years, that’s pretty intense. That’s pretty intense back then to be the kid that gets picked on about weight and about body size. And to have your parents be so intense around the dieting and the food and the judgment, that is extremely difficult and damaging for the psyche of a young child.

Were your parents mean? Did they hate you? No. They somehow weirdly thought that this is the right thing to do because they love us and they worked on the best information that they had. That’s what they did. They used the best information that they had. Granted, they would probably do it different nowadays, but that’s what they knew to do. And it wasn’t helpful. In fact, it was kind of harmful.

Then when you tell me that kind of the first time you were on a diet at a young age and then your mom passing like at this crucial time in your life, at this crucial age, when we’re young. Nobody wants to lose their mother, their father, or their parents at that age. It’s hard, especially your same sex parent. For a girl, her mom. For a boy, his dad.

So in a lot of ways, what happens is—I’m not saying this is happening for you, but I’m suggesting it is because I’ve seen this—that oftentimes what happens is dieting becomes associated with my mother for a woman. And it’s almost like your connection to her. The body challenges that you’ve gone through, it’s almost like your connection to her.

And I especially believe that because you even said to me, when I said, “What would it look like for you if you got where you wanted to go finally?” And really the first thing you started sharing was you said this other voice in your head, “You see, Mom? I did it. I did it, Mom.”

So in a way, you are still talking to her which is fine. It’s very beautiful. You are communicating. You’re staying connected to your mother through dieting and through being that little girl because that little girl, all of a sudden, her mom is gone.

When we get hurt at a certain age, a part of us stays that age. Now, you became a woman. You became a wife. You became a mother. You became a grandma. You’re a professional. So you’re all these great things. You’re not a kid. And there’s a part of you that’s a kid. There’s a part of me that’s a kid. The part of you that’s a kid is particularly the part that got hurt, wounded, at a young age when your mom died. So there’s a place where certain patterns get locked in there because we’re not able to move forward because there’s a trauma in the system, trauma meaning my mama died.

And I get that you’re still connected to her. You have a special connection with her, and that’s important for you, as it should be.

My parents are deceased; I still feel connected to them. The relationship doesn’t stop. It evolves. We evolve, even though that person we can’t see them and they’re not here. The challenge is you’re still relating to your mother as if you’re that little girl.

And as long as you’re still relating to your mother as if you’re that little girl, you will be dieting. You will be unhappy with your body. You will not be in your power. And you will be trying to finish what you were trying to do 50 years ago. You’re trying to finish that. It makes sense by the way. This makes sense in terms of how the psyche works, how the mind works.

We’re psychological creatures. We operate in a certain way. So I’m just sharing from my view some of the ways that the mind operates. So you’re trying to finish something from 50 years ago that you didn’t get to complete, so that when you finally complete it, you go, “Okay, done! See, Mom, I did it. See? I’m loveable. See? I’m this great little girl. See? You can stop judging me and love me unconditionally. So I can feel good about myself, and now I can launch myself into the world.”

So in a perfect setting, our parents launch us into the world with all kind of love and positive regard and we feel good about who we are because I’ve gotten good messages. “You’re loveable. You’re okay. You don’t have to be taller, shorter, thinner, fatter, richer, whatever.” So that’s ideal. But not all of us get that. Maybe few of us get that.

A part of you is still that little girl, and that’s how you’ve been operating. And when I said to you.. Also, I asked you, “So what do you think holds you back?” First thing you said and you were very clear, and I agree with you, you said, “These voices in my head.”

Now, let me translate what people mean by voices in my head because it’s true. We’re not crazy. There’s voices in our head. Why? Because there’s a lot of people up there. You’re a grandmother. That’s a particular voice. That’s a specific role. You’re a wife. That’s a very specific role. You’re a mother. That’s another specific role. You’re a nurse. That’s another very specific role. Those are voices, personalities, personas, people.

I’m a professional. I’m a son. I’m a father. I’m a friend. I’m a scientist. I’m an artist. So each one has a different head space and a different expression. And at any given point, depending on what we’re doing, one of those voices is doing most of the talking. Now, some of the voices in our head we have less control over. So as a for instance, your professional voice, you can probably turn that on and off really easy. You get to work; there you are. Boom. You put on your professional gear, and you’re in that voice and you’re in that role. And then when you come home, like you drop that at the door and you’re you when you come home.

So a part of us goes into—in this case for you, you have that little 10-year-old girl persona. Doesn’t feel good about herself. Doesn’t feel good about her body. Has not gotten the message that you are loveable. What the message she got was “you are not yet loveable” until you, oomph, lose this weight, look like this, and get our blessing. So you’re waiting for that moment.

So what I want to say to you—and by the way, if you were my client, we would be getting to this place that I’m talking to you about right now probably after about four or five months. So I’m cheating. I’m giving you what I think is the goal, is the keys to the kingdom here, because normally we would kind of go through a journey and sort of arrive there together.

So what I think your task is to get where you want to go, to get that magic wand wish that you said, “I want to be at peace.

I want to feel empowered. I want to just be comfortable with this. I want to love who I am. I want to stop all this nonsense,” great. I’m on your side.

I want you to do that too because it hurts me so much that here you are—how old are you? 50? 60?

Devorah: 59, turning 60 next month.

Marc: 59. Okay, so this is your time in life to be a queen. This is your time in life to be sitting on your throne. This is your time in life to feel empowered, not to be burdened by this nonsense. So that hurts me to see you being burdened by this nonsense. Now, I’m not saying that’s your fault because this is how we’re taught.

So nothing you’ve done is your fault. This is how you were brought up. This is how you were taught. And then the world comes right in and says, “Yeah! You need to go to Overeaters Anonymous. You need to be abstinent.” I don’t like Overeaters Anonymous. I don’t like it at all. There’s no such thing as abstinence from food. There’s no such thing as a food addiction; you need food to live.

It’s all about learning how to have a healthy relationship with food, how to encounter food, be with food, not how to be abstinent from it. That’s ridiculous. I’m just telling you right now. That’s why it doesn’t work, and it didn’t work for you. Can it work for some people, sometimes, in certain situations? Sure.

But overall, the philosophy is flawed because food is not the enemy. We’re not trying to be abstinent from alcohol here. You don’t need alcohol to live. You need food to live. So that’s too much of a conundrum for the brain. It makes no sense, and it just causes confusion.

So what I’m saying is that in order for you to get where you want to go, you, personally, need to step into your queen, step into your womanhood more, and be acutely aware every time you let your little girl take over.

Because when you let your little girl take over and drive the car and run the show and run the ship and be the voice in your head that dominates, you’re in trouble. You go back to being a 10-year-old girl, but even though I’m talking to a 59-year-old wonderful lady, I’m really talking to a 10-year-old, which is fine, which is very sweet. Again, we all have that.

Any person I talk to with an eating challenge, at some point I can help identify like, “Oh! Here’s the age that you’re enacting with your eating challenge.” So this is a time when you have to willfully mature yourself. You have to self-initiate. You have to change your religion. And when I say change your religion, you have very strong commandments and beliefs that are religious about how it all works.

Your belief is if I lose this weight and get to where I’m supposed to be and hit that point and show my mother that, look, here I am. And look here I am, everybody. Because it’s not just mom, but you’re also showing off to all the other kids, like, leave me alone. I’m cool now. I’m one of the good people now.

Those people don’t care. They’re gone. Nobody’s waiting for you to do anything in terms of losing weight. There’s no room of judging people going, “Okay. When is she going to do it? We’re waiting for her.” They don’t exist. That’s a made-up religion.

Sure, there might be some people that judge you. There’s always people judging us. Who cares? Leave them alone. Get rid of them. You don’t need people in your life who are judging you. Somebody’s going to judge you for how you look? Great. Cross them off your list.

So you have to change your religion, meaning you have to understand that the strategy that you’ve been trying to use to get where you want to go is not the right strategy. If it was, it would’ve worked. It would’ve worked a long time ago because you’re a smart lady, and you’ve tried and you’ve efforted.

So you get an A+ for effort. You get an A+ for trying. You get an A+ for grit and elbow grease and putting in all that work. And now, we’re going to take all that good energy and put it into strategies that actually are going to take you where you want to go.

Devorah: Sounds good.

Marc: Yeah, so the strategy that I’m talking about—and this is gradual. You’re not going to do this overnight. It’s not like, “Oh, I’m going to take a pill, and I’m going to be all better.” Or, “Oh, I’m going to just do this one, simple thing and I’m going to be better.”

This is a practice like practicing a musical instrument. If you don’t know how to play the piano, this is going to be like you learning how to play the piano. But guess what. You’re going to be young again because you’re going to be fresh, and you’re going to be a beginner. How cool is that?

And what you’re starting at as a beginner is to understand that you are a woman, that you’re a queen, and you have to make sure that she is the one who is driving your life and your experience when it comes to food. Because your queen, mother, woman, mature personality checks out when it comes to food and body for you, and you become that little girl.

So I want you to start to catch yourself. How do I know you can do that? Because you’re unbelievably observant about yourself. You’re smart. You’ve noticed. You know yourself. You know your habits. You know your thoughts. But you haven’t quite known how to spin out of all that information. You haven’t quite known how to put that information together.

So I’m suggesting this is how you put the information together. You notice, “Oh, here I am in this little girl voice. Here I am being a victim because that little girl feels victimized,” because she was. She was a victim. She was an actual victim. She was being bullied. That’s a victim. So victim is not always a bad word. So that girl was harmed emotionally, energetically, spiritually, physically. That’s not nice.

So the good news is that offense is over. You are not that girl anymore. There’s nothing similar. You’re not that little girl anymore.

You’re this whole other person who’s created this whole other life, and you don’t always see that. You’re just seeing all the issues and all the problems. You’re seeing the world oftentimes as if you’re that 10-year-old girl, like, “I don’t have what I want.”

So you have to start to let go of what that 10-year-old girl wants. And you have to talk to her. It’s like talking to a voice in your head. You have to be the good mother that you didn’t have by your side. So whatever you would’ve wanted from your mother, you have to give it to you. It’s called re-parenting. Nobody else could do this for you but you, to re-parent yourself.

So every time that little girl goes, “Aw, I want people to love me. I want to weigh exactly what I want to weigh,” what would a good mother tell that little girl? What would you say to her? “Hey, honey. You’re beautiful as you are. It’s okay. Take a deep breath. You’re perfect. You don’t have to diet. You don’t have to do anything.”

So I want to see you start to live with the body you have right now as if this is it. This is the body you’re going to have for the rest of your life and love it for who it is and what it is for the first time ever, without trying to change it.

Might you want to change it, I don’t know, five months from now? Tweak it? Sure, if that’s what you really want to do. But I’m more interested in you having an experience for a number of months where you ain’t trying to change it. You’re like, “Time out. I’m okay as I am.”

Because if you did that, then you would have to be the new you. You would be saying, “Okay, I am ready now.” Only you could say you are ready. So here’s what happens. The child’s mind in you, the 10-year-old girl in you, goes, “Well, what do I have to do? How do I do this? How do I make this happen?”

And that child’s mind cannot solve the problem because it’s a 10-year-old mind, and it makes no sense to you because you’re just trying to be happy. And all you need to do to be happy is lose this weight and get the approval of parents and get the approval of all the people in the environment who finally say, “You’re acceptable.”

And then your queen, woman, wise person brain needs to come in and go, “Oh, look at me. I’m going into that old thinking. I’m going into 10-year-old girl thinking. That doesn’t work. Why? Because who says I’m acceptable? I do.” You do.

There’s nobody you need to impress at this point. Your husband loves you. Your kids love you. There’s nobody you need to convince of anything. So you have to choose you for the first time. You’re waiting for other people to choose you. You’re waiting for other people to grant you the right to be loveable and acceptable.

It’s kind of like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz at the end. They say, “Hey, you always had the power to click the shoes.” That’s you. You’ve just got to click the shoes. I mean that. I really mean that. I’m not kidding you. We’ve been taught to look outside for the answers. We’ve been taught that you read a book, you take a pill, you do some system, and this is actually what I’m saying is hard work. It’s a different kind of hard work where we have to dig deep within. We have to face ourselves. We have to look at ourselves, and we have to see, “Oh! Here’s where I’ve got to make a little bit more effort.”

What happens is humans can often be very—we can be very motivated when it comes to work. We can be very motivated when we have to push our bodies, and we can be very motivated when we have to push ourselves to make money. Sometimes it’s easy for us to get just spiritually a little more lazy because it’s a harder kind of work. It’s a, oof, you’ve got to get in there. And you have to self-initiate. Again, meaning there’s nobody out there who’s going to do it for you. Nobody. Not me. Not anybody. And you have to get that.

And when you get that, then you are your own woman. Previously, you were not your own woman. There’s moments where you’re your own woman, but then it quickly goes into, “Oh, but this body’s not acceptable. This body’s not okay. What do I have to do to make you invisible, strange people love me and accept me?” And then the slightest bit of evidence that you gather that somebody’s judging you or you’re comparing yourself or you’re not this, you’re not that, the slightest bit of evidence throws you off.

So what I’m saying is that’s because you’ve been trained to give your power away. And now we’re going to go back to the source which is you. And you’re going to say, “Okay.” And this is literally doing like a life review. This is you looking back on your life and going, “Okay. Here’s my journey. It wasn’t easy.” So I’m hearing your story and I’m thinking to myself, “That’s not an easy journey. That’s not an easy start.” If I was you, I’d be sitting here with the same challenges.

So chances are, my guess is, you’ve done phenomenally well, given your start. So I want to say congratulations. All things considered, good for you for creating a beautiful life because you could’ve been a mess. You could’ve been a mess, and you weren’t. You’re quite the opposite. Are things perfect? No, but who are they perfect for. So all things considered, you’ve been a success. And now, you are wisely saying, “Wait a second. Enough.” Because you can’t continue in the same mindset anymore. You can’t. You will start to get very, very, very unhappy.

So you look back on your life and you start to bless your journey and you bless your story. And you say goodbye to that little girl in terms of you’re not going to be running the show anymore. She’s going to be by your side. You’re going to be holding her hand, and you’re going to be talking to her as if she’s your little girl. And you’re going to say the things that she would’ve needed to hear. So it’s almost like you’re pretending you’re the greatest mom you’ve ever had when you need to talk to her and soothe her.

So then you’re invoking the part of you that is indeed the person you want to be. So the person that you want to be you have to bring her forth. You have to bring her forth in actions, in thoughts, in words, in deeds. Then you become that person slowly, as you practice being that person. Just the same way when you first have a child, you’re practicing being a mom. So you’re being in mom role a lot, and it gains momentum. And then all of a sudden, you’re a natural mother. When you start being a nurse after your first few weeks on the job, okay, you’re being in that mindset. And then it starts to take over. Same thing. You’re adopting a new role. You’re adopting a new personality.

And, to your point, yeah, it’s not the victim. It’s the victor. How do you be the victor? You look back on your history, and you go, “Wow. Job well done. All things considered, whoa. Success.” Do we want to improve on some things? Absolutely. But all things considered, wow. And when you start to lapse into being a victim, the woman in you catches it, sees it, notices it, and you don’t let yourself go down that tunnel.

It’s no different than if one of your kids was having a tantrum. At some point, you’re going to stop them if they’re going for hours. Or if they’re going into a dark place, at some point you’re going to, “Hey, how’re you doing? What’s going on?” So you can’t abandon yourself anymore. Part of you got abandoned. You were left. When a parent dies young, we feel a sense of abandonment.

And what happens is that becomes part of our life. So even though your mom has passed, there’s a place where you’re still reliving that abandonment when you abandon you. What does that mean? You abandoning you means you insulting yourself, means you becoming the bully. “Oh, look what you ate. You shouldn’t have eaten that. Look how fat you are.” That’s being a bully. Other people bullied you; now, you’ve taken that on yourself. So that’s what you have to break.

You’ve got to realize, “Oh, wait a second. That’s not a good strategy.” You’ve got to catch yourself. If somebody starting bullying you right now, I hope you would stand up to them.

If somebody started insulting you or insulting one of your loved ones, I hope you’d stand up for them. Same for you. If you start bullying you, I want you to stand up for yourself.

So I’m busy yakking away here. How’s all this landing for you, young lady?

Devorah: It makes sense. It really makes sense. I hate to use this expression. It’s one of those always expressions, but it sounds like simple, but not easy.

Marc: 100%. Brilliant observation. Simple in concept. Another word for simple in concept is it’s exquisitely elegant, obvious. And correct: marriage is simple in concept. Hey, I love you. Hey, I love you. Okay. Let’s get married. And it’s not easy to execute.

Devorah: Oh, no. It takes a lot of work.

Marc: Okay. So that’s what I’m saying. But simple in concept. Two people get together. We love each other. Okay. Let’s make a life together. So that is correct. So the kid in you might protest. Why? Because when you give me a bunch of homework to do, I protest. The kid in me protests. I don’t want to do homework. I want to go out and play. I want to have fun.

So I want you to notice who’s protesting. And follow me here for a moment. You will mount an immune response to what I am saying here, meaning there’s going to be a part of you that’s going to want to reject it because it is going to be a little work. And it isn’t easy; you’re correct. So if it’s not easy, then it’ll be easy for us to go find excuses why we can’t do it. And you’ll want to push it away.

So I’m just giving you a heads up warning because this is what happens when human beings come face to face with the real work that we have to do. I’m just being straight with you. When we come face to face with the difficult work, it’s hard to do. You know people like this. I’m sure you have people in your circle, friends that you know, that you could say, “Okay, I know where this person needs to do a little work in their life, and they’re so resistant.”

It’s natural. It’s just kind of what we do because the work is hard and because we do have to face ourselves. And there will be some pain in there. What’s the pain? The pain is sometimes to see, “Oh, it’s been so hard to live like this. Oh, my God, I wish I would’ve figured this out sooner. Oh, my goodness, I wish it wouldn’t have been so many years doing this.” That’s where I go when I realize, “Oh man, I’ve been thinking a certain way for the longest time, and, oof, was that the wrong direction.”

So we have to contend with a lot inside of us, but we can and that’s the sign of adulthood. It’s the sign for you as a woman of queenhood where we manage the challenges and the conflicts with grace. And we understand that life is short. And we understand that you are not immortal. And we understand that unless you have a clear path, you’re going to keep doing the same thing because you have been.

So your strategies don’t work. The strategies that we collectively use around all this stuff, honestly, not very effective. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in this conversation. You would’ve done it already, and everybody would be having an easy time when it comes to body image and weight and loving themselves. It’s not easy. The cards are stacked against us because the world is always giving you messages. The world’s always telling you, “Hey, you should look like this. You should look like that.” The movies, the media, the magazines, it’s all reinforcing how bad we are.

And even you said this, “I’ve got to spend all this money dressing a certain way and looking a certain way.” The world often wants that from us even if it’s not living in an orthodox community. It’s like the world has its dress code and its look and its feel and its shape and its weight, and it’s crazy. It’s crazy.

So again, what I’m saying is, yes, you’re right. It’s hard work. What I want you to find in yourself, my wish for you, is that you get to the place where you realize this is the kind of work worth doing.

So you asked me before we got on and I remember exactly the words you said, “So if I listen to you, can you guarantee me that it’s going to work?”

And I wouldn’t say yes because it’s not fair to say that. It wouldn’t be true because I can’t guarantee it. But here’s what I will say that if you grapple with what we’ve talked about and if you take it to heart and if you truly in yourself believe, “Huh, I think this is the right advice for me,” and if you put it into action, I guarantee your life is going to change.

But you have to make the choice that this is right for me or not. You can’t dabble. “Oh, let me try this diet for three days and see if it works. Let me read this book and see…” Those are passive things sometimes. It’s about you making the choice and you putting things into action.

So that’s why I can’t guarantee because I don’t know your work ethic here. But what I’m saying is if you can get, “Oh, this is the kind of work worth doing that’s going to get me where I want to go,” how could you not get there?

Devorah: I hear it make sense.

Marc: Mmhmm. What’s happening for you right now?

Devorah: What’s happening? I’m absorbing all this that I heard. I’m listening. I’m almost like trying to, as silly as it sounds, picture Queen Elizabeth and I’m picturing this 10-year-old girl. Like what you’re saying about me being the bully, bullying myself, that’s really, really resonating. It’s really, really resonating. And I almost feel like I need to do things that I don’t even know how to do.

Marc: Yeah. But you can learn because you’re smart and because you’ve gotten this far in life and look at all that you’ve learned. You’ve learned how to be a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a professional, a good human being. So you’ve got some talents. Okay? You’ve got some life talents and life skills, and you’ve got great instincts. And honestly, in my opinion, man to woman, you are not fully aware of your own super powers. You have a much lower self-opinion of yourself than you actually deserve.

And I’m not asking you to be arrogant; I’m just wanting you to be able to own yourself more. And I want you to think about that queen image because I like that for you. I want you to think about yourself sitting in a throne because I like that for you. And it’s not like you’re a mean queen. A good queen gives of herself.

Devorah: Oh, yeah.

Marc: A good queen loves her queendom. Everybody in her space is part of her queendom. A good queen delivers wisdom. A good queen grants people her presence with her wisdom, her love, her insights.

A good queen doesn’t sit on her throne and go, “Hey, everybody! Am I skinny enough? Do you love me? Do I need to lose more weight for you to love me as your queen? Because if you do, I’ll go exercise.” You would never follow a queen like that.

Devorah: No.

Marc: No. No. So be the queen that you would want to be with, you would want to follow, you would want others to be around. So it’s you literally stepping into that. And as you step into that, the little girl in you starts to find her rightful place which is this cute thing that’s part of your past that is now healing because you’re bringing in this other part.

So on one level it’s less about fixing what happened, and it’s more about now continuing your evolution and stepping into this new part of you. And, yeah, you’re going to be doing a little bit of tweaking because when that little girl acts up, the queen is going to go, “Oh, I just want to tell you something, honey. You are okay exactly who you are. You don’t have to do anything else.”

Every day I would love for you to make some kind of affirmation where you tell that girl she is loved and she needs to do nothing more to be loved and accepted. So she can get once and for all you are granted the right to exist and to be loveable. And we love you. I guarantee you if I could talk to your mom right now she’s not trying to change you. You think she’s on the other side wishing you were doing something different with your weight or your diet. She couldn’t care less.

Devorah: That’s true.

Marc: She wants you to be happy. You want your kids to be happy. Do you look at your kids going, “Oh, you should lose five pounds”? No, you want your kids to be happy. At the end of the day, you want them to be happy. That’s what she wants for you. She doesn’t want you to diet.

So this is a new way of thinking. And I just want to say from my perspective I’ve thrown a lot at you here. I’ve put a lot in your court. This is not a simple, casual conversation. But I said to you before we started recording, I said, “I’m going to give this my best possible shot.” And I mean that. I really want to see you get where you want to go. I really do. It’ll make me feel better about myself. It’ll make me feel better about the world.

And for me, I find it unacceptable that women and men are being held back in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s because of body image, weight nonsense. And we’re not being in our power, and we’re not giving our real gifts to the world. It’s unacceptable to me. So we’ve got to do something about that.

So that’s what this conversation is. It’s us banding together as comrades, as humans, on the journey together. There’s certain things I know more than you. You know more than me. And just sharing, “Hey, here’s what I’ve noticed.”

So that’s where this is coming from. It’s less me as the expert, and it’s more me as the person who just spends a lot of crazy time dissecting these things and analyzing them because that’s what I’m weirdly passionate about. And I’m reporting to you from my neck of the woods, “Here’s what I think is going to move you forward.”

It’s not about believing me. I want you to be really clear about that. This is not about believing me and doing what I said. This is about you seeing does this resonate for me and am I willing to put this into action? So it becomes your choice as opposed to me saying what to do. Because if it’s me telling you what to do, then it’s that little girl again, going, “Oh! Here’s what he told me to do, so I should do that. And if I make him happy, then I’ll be…” No.

Devorah: And that’s my instinct of what I want to do.

Marc: Because your little girl is so strong, and that’s very endearing and very sweet. You have a very child-like quality to you, and I mean that as a compliment. So that’s part of what makes you endearing, but it also gets in your way sometimes. So good. You caught yourself. I caught it too. Okay. So I could already feel you being a good girl, and going, “Oh, he says I should do this.”

Devorah: That’s right. I’m like, “Okay, so give me homework. Give me step-by-step this, do this. What homework you should do.” Even like, “What paper should I write?” And I’m always the A+ student because I have to do everything right and perfect, and I see this is much deeper than that.

Marc: It’s deeper.

Devorah: And this is where I feel like I’m going to completely different waters than anything I’m used to.

Marc: Yeah, exactly. Exactly! And those different waters, completely different, is where you want to be living. And it’s good that you’re noticing it’s completely different because what you said at the beginning in terms of what you want is completely different than what you’ve had. Do you follow me? What you want is completely different from what you’ve had.

So logically when you’re intuiting, “Huh, this is completely different,” it is reasonable to deduce that I’m on the right track here. I meaning you and I in this conversation. We’re on the right track because, “Huh. This is completely different.” You bet it is because what you want, the outcome you want, is something completely different than what you’ve had.

So, based on that, you’re going to be—I would love to give you specifics at this point. You’re going to have to instead kind of come away from this conversation and start to resource yourself and tune in and be the queen.

Because sometimes a queen is given a challenge, and there are things going on. And here’s the situation. Here’s the conditions. What should we do?

And then you make a choice in the moment. You tap into your wisdom. You listen to your inner knowing. It might not come out right away. You might have to think. You might have to meditate a little bit. You might have to marinate a little bit and give yourself time and space to tap in as opposed to, “Okay. Tell me exactly what to do. And what’s the first step? And what’s the second step?”

Yeah, we could do that, and that might be useful for you at some point, quite honestly. But given this relationship right now that we’re not going to be doing this 12 more times, it’s probably a good thing for you because I would love to see you just kind of jump in the water and start to get comfortable and start to resource yourself. Start to tap into your wise woman within. I really mean that. You can be a wise woman, Jewish sage. You’ve just got to let that voice start to come out in you. She’s in there, right? Am I right? Yeah.

Devorah: Yeah.

Marc: Yeah. So it’s you starting to claim that. Because then you’re in the rightful place where you ought to be at this stage of your life which is sitting on your throne not being that lonely little girl trying to lose weight. You’re not her anymore. And now we’re going to just catch up to that.

You have been a very excellent sport here. Excuse the sports’ analogy, but you’ve been very willing. You’ve really shared very openly about yourself, and I feel you haven’t held anything back and have just been very honest about your process. And that’s beautiful to witness. It’s very mature. It means to me you have the right tools to move forward.

And it just reinforces what I’ve been saying to is that you just have way more super powers than you realize. You let that little hurt girl show up so much that it eclipses these other really brilliant parts of you more than it needs to, and you forget that you’re a wise woman. You just forget. So I want you to stay in remembrance more. Then you’ll happier.

Devorah: Mmhmm.

Marc: So, Ms. Devorah, we are at that time. Good job.

Devorah: Thank you.

Marc: Yeah. Great answer. Excellent job. I’m so pleased by this time together for us. I would just love for you to just kind of marinate and consider and just dream on things and watch that you don’t get into your head too much, too much, too much. You can get into your head at some point, but I think it’s really good for you to just kind of feel. Just feel, like you’re doing right now. Make sense?

Devorah: Yes.

Marc: Mmhmm. Great job. Excellent job, and I’m going to wrap us up now because I think this is a good place. And if I have you nice and quiet, then that’s a good thing. That means you’re thinking and that means you’re feeling. So, again, thank you, Devorah, 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, my friends. Take care.

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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.