For most of her life, Catherine has struggled to really love her body. Ever since she can remember, she has been reminded by herself and even by her mother that her body was never good enough. Despite her best efforts, she has always come back to this place of wanting to fix her body and never feeling comfortable in front of other people, except for her husband. In this breakthrough session, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, helps Catherine uproot some of the major underlying obstacles standing between her and her right to feel comfortable in her own skin. Catherine generously shares the story of her mother, her sister, and how those relationships influenced how she felt about and talked about her body for the years to come. Listen in as Marc and Catherine rewrite the story and reset some of those lifelong beliefs Catherine has held about herself.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and we are back in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m here today with Catherine. Welcome, Catherine.
Catherine: Thank you.
Marc: I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re doing this, and we are speaking from California where I am. And you are in Scotland.
Marc: That’s a mini miracle in and of itself. I just want to point that out. So just let me say, for viewers and listeners who are new right now, the way this works. Catherine and I haven’t met before. We’ve been chit-chatting a few minutes before we just jumped on here, and we’re going to spend about 55 minutes or so together and see if we can just move things forward and find out, Catherine, what you want to work on and just take some positive steps.
So if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted to get out of this session, young lady, what would that be?
Catherine: Gosh. It’s such a huge topic for me, Marc. I have had such a dysfunctional relationship with food and with my body for so many years that the idea of a magic wand makes me weep. If I was to have a magic wand, I wouldn’t obsess about food. I wouldn’t overeat. And I would appreciate food for what it is rather than this thing that it has become in my life where it’s a thing I comfort myself with, it’s a thing I punish myself with, it’s a thing I punish other people with. I know that doesn’t make any sense.
There was one of the exercises that you asked us to do—you were talking about thinking metaphorically about it. And metaphors, there are a lot of metaphorical things for me. So if I was to have a magic wand about what this session might do, I guess it would clear the path a bit for me. I would feel as if I could see my way forward with more kindliness and to have a renewed sense of maybe curiosity about it rather than a kind of despair which is what I experience after periods of… Maybe even relation sometimes around food because I think I’ve cracked it now. But so far, I never have cracked it.
Marc: So the challenge for you has been around your body, body image. Just say more what really gets you. What really causes pain and suffering is “when I do or when I think this way.”
Catherine: I feel like I’m just such a cliché. I just feel such shame because I’m not the right shape. I don’t look the way the magazines say that you should look. I really get bored with that narrative. I can’t bear it, and yet I still have that expectation. I’m 64 years old, and I still have this expectation that maybe if I do the right thing I’ll look the right way. Where right is what? An 18-year-old girl. An 18-year-old girl. When I was an 18-year-old girl, I didn’t look like then. Yeah.
I’m going to see quite a lot of people later this week that I haven’t seen for a while. These are good friends and colleagues in my dance community. Just think, “Oh, I really wish that I didn’t look so fat, seeing them again.” I feel like such a failure. I want people to think, “Oh, wow. She looks great,” rather than, “Oh, I think she’s even fatter than she was the last time.”
And it’s just on and on and on, that story. I don’t think it really matters all that much, and yet… None of these people could give twopence what I looked like. Some of them really love me; some of them maybe are more indifferent. But the ones that love me, even if they did think I’d put on weight, they would just think, “Well.”
Marc: I appreciate you for being so raw and so real right now. There’s nothing in you that’s holding back, and I just wanted to say that. Thank you. Thanks for showing up so real. I’m going to ask you some more questions, so I can get to know you a little better, because I would love nothing more right now than to be able to serve you in helping you move forward. That would make my day. I’m being very selfish here because I want to have a good day. That means helping you move forward; then, I want to figure this out.
I was going to guess you’re about 52. So have you been married?
Catherine: I am married.
Marc: How long?
Catherine: We met in 1979, and we were married in 1980.
Marc: So are there kids in there?
Catherine: We have four children.
Marc: Four children. How old are they?
Catherine: The first two children are from my first marriage, and they are 44 and 43.
Catherine: Two children are 34 and 33.
Marc: Got it. How does your husband feel about your body?
Catherine: He loves me.
Marc: Oh, you poor woman. Okay.
Catherine: He loves me.
Marc: Just give me a sense of his world for a second when he sees you go through this.
Marc: What does he do? Where does he go? What does he tell you?
Catherine: It’s a long story for him too. When we met, I was maybe three stones less, 40 lbs in America, but a lot lighter. And I was already obsessed with being too fat. And he’s tried, “Okay, let’s help you lose weight.” He’s tried, “I love you just the way you are.” He’s tried everything he can think of, and none of it really helps. So he feels really sad. He can sometimes feel, “Why? Who is it you want to attract, Catherine? Your husband loves you and is really attracted to you, so what’s going on here?” And I can’t really answer that question.
Marc: Sure. Sure. I understand. Your mom. Is she alive? Deceased?
Catherine: She is deceased. Has been for a long time.
Marc: Uh-huh. How long ago did she die?
Catherine: Twenty-three years ago.
Marc: Were you close?
Catherine: We were very close. This was a big issue for her.
Marc: This was a big issue for her, meaning for herself personally or her about your body.
Catherine: Her about my body.
Marc: Oh. And what was the issue for her?
Catherine: She found it really hard that I was, as she thought, overweight.
Marc: When did you first kind of get that message from her? How old were you?
Catherine: Very small. I can remember it when I was really little, but she also talked about it from day one. I was a fat baby, and she didn’t like it. It was a big issue for her.
Marc: Yeah. So you’ve heard that story from a very young age.
Catherine: Very young age. I look at the photographs, and I think, “What planet was she on?” But for her, it was her real truth. She would say I was as tall as I was broad. She would say that I looked like my aunt who was a big woman. She went to town with it. My sister apparently was very skinny. I was very fat. And this was just the family story. My sister wasn’t all that skinny. I wasn’t all that fat. It was just that’s how it was for her.
Marc: How old was she when she passed?
Catherine: She was 73.
Marc: Did you ever have a conversation with her about this in your more adult years? Like, “Hey, mom…”
Catherine: No. No. We never did. I would sometimes lose weight, and she would be relieved. And then if I put on weight, she would say, “I see you’re getting bulky again.” And I would just feel, “Yeah. I don’t want you to talk about it.” We never did talk about it. It was hard.
Marc: So is it true that into your adult years she would still notice or say something when you gained weight or lost it?
Catherine: Yes. Yeah. I don’t really know why she had such a thing about it. She herself was very slim, but not particularly by—she wasn’t a dieter. She wasn’t obsessed with food. In fact, if anything, she wasn’t that keen on food. She had digestive problems. I don’t know why she had a big thing about mine, but she did.
Marc: I have a question, and I’m trying to form it in my mind. In your assessment, did your mother become the woman she wanted to become in her life?
Catherine: That’s an interesting question. She was a woman of her time. I think she didn’t have career ambitions. She was a stay-at-home mum. One of my sisters had quite a profound learning disability, and so that was a big feature of our family life. And I think she had some—what’s the word—resentment about that. I think it was a tough row for her to hoe. Family life was quite chaotic and difficult, and she did her best with it.
Marc: How many children were there?
Marc: Four. So there were three girls and a boy?
Marc: And where are you in the birth order?
Catherine: I was the baby.
Marc: You were the baby. Interesting. Okay. And the sister that she thought was skinny, where was she in the birth order?
Catherine: She was second.
Marc: And where’s your brother in the birth order?
Catherine: He was third.
Marc: Okay. And your dad, what kind of feedback did he give you about your body and your weight?
Catherine: My dad thought that my sister and I were lovely, and he took quite a lot of photographs of us. And I think that he delighted in how we looked, but he didn’t ever say much about it. He was a quiet man. There are a few photographs of me as a teenager where dad would say, “Come out to the garden, and I’ll take a photograph of you.”
And when I look at those photographs, I can feel his love. That kind of you look interesting, you look good. There’s one with me with a towel on my head and a pair of hill-walking boots. I think he just thought I looked a bit eccentric or something. It was a very matriarchal home. My father was rather quiet.
I got to know him quite a lot better after mum died actually because previously I would phone and he would say, “Oh, I’ll just put your mother on.” Whereas, after she had passed, we would then make conversation of a quieter nature on the kind of conversation I would have with Mum.
Marc: When are you most at peace with your body? Do you notice particular times, places, situations?
Catherine: When I’m with Crispin, my husband. When it’s just the two of us, I can feel relaxed about my body and feel at ease with it. But if we were on a holiday, for example, I would feel awkward about going out to sit. We go on cycling holidays, and I could feel awkward about other people being there. But when it’s just the two of us, I don’t.
Also, I dance. I do a dance practice called Movement Medicine, and when I’ve danced a lot I can feel really at ease with my body.
Marc: Good for you.
Catherine: I got to the gym a couple of times a week, and I work hard. And I work with a trainer who is very—he makes me work quite hard, but he also praises me quite a lot. And I feel as if sometimes I can feel good about my body from the inside-out. I am strong and healthy, and I love walking. I like cycling. I like swimming. Those activity things, I feel as if… But it’s that thing of being looked at that makes things more… And yet not with Crispin.
Marc: Sure. Okay, Ms. Catherine, I’ve got some thoughts that I would love to share with you and really see if we can reframe your situation, reinvent it, just look at it through fresh eyes. Sometimes in order to put things to change we have to see them a little differently. Do you know what I’m saying?
This has been a challenge for you that has existed virtually as long as you can remember. As long as you can remember in your mind, and all young minds are amazingly impressionable. Young minds absorb—you know this. Young minds absorb everything from their environment. And they absorb the love that they’re given, and they absorb the nonsense that they’re told. It’s kind of how the mind works.
And from a very young age, you were given a concept that was quite strangely toxic. You’re not the only human who has been given this concept. Many humans get this concept. And the concept is who you are is not good enough. This thing called your weight, this thing called your shape is somehow not acceptable. It’s not okay. And it’s especially not okay, why? Because your mother says so.
Now, our parents are gods. I’m going to say things to you. Forgive me if they sound obvious, but I just want to lay it out as I see it and put it out in the most basic, simple terms so you can understand my thinking in terms of what I’m going to say to you. Our parents are gods to us. They’re everything to us. And we, as humans, in order to have a healthy launching into the world, the more we know that I am loved and I am approved of and I am okay who I am right now in this moment, the more I carry that from my upbringing the more I can step into the world in a healthy way.
So when I walk somewhere, I can love and accept myself no matter what. And when I’m talking to this person or that person, whether they think I’m attractive or not, I’m okay. I still love and accept myself. You were never given your mother’s full blessing. Ever. You never got the full blessing from your mother called, “Honey, Catherine, I love you and accept you a million percent exactly who you are. You don’t have to change a damn thing. You’re so good in my book. Done deal. If you want to shift this, change that, I’m there. If you don’t, I’m there. It doesn’t matter to me. I love you.”
You’ve never gotten her acceptance. You’ve never gotten her blessing. And it’s kind of like a blessing. And consequently, there’s been an absent piece for you missing.
When I asked you about your relationship with her, you mentioned, God, you guys never spoke about this. So, that was an unspoken piece. You still wanted her to accept you, and she still didn’t. Even towards the very end, she was still coming from this place of, “Oh, you lost weight. You gained weight,” whatever.
And even though a part of you knows, because you’re a smart lady and you’re a wise woman. So even though a part of you says to me, “Marc, I hear this story and it’s like old already. I tell myself the same thing, and I go, ‘Oh, you’re not good enough. You’re not good enough.’ And I think, ‘Come on, that’s so silly.’” But the story still grips you.
And the reason why—let’s be very straight up about this. The reason why that story still grips you is because it is one of the most gripping, nasty, toxic stories that humans are programmed with on this planet. Humans, particularly women, men as well, particularly females are very, very, very, very vulnerable to criticism and critique about form and beauty. Because when you’re young, all you have is your form as far as you’re concerned. You’re a little bundle of flesh and energy.
And when somebody says your bundle of flesh and energy ain’t good enough and ain’t loveable, that is a very deep wound. And it is hard to change. And then from there, the world constantly reinforces those messages in the magazines, the movies, the videos, all of it.
So the reason why you can’t get rid of it, it is because it is more powerful than you are. It’s a bad virus. You didn’t invent it. It’s not your fault, but it is such a strong viral belief and viral thought that once it takes hold, it’s hard to get rid of. So I’m just owning that; it’s hard.
That’s why we’re in this conversation. That’s why we come together to help each other, to band together as a collective immune response when something is bigger than anyone of us can handle. You with me so far?
So not only is it a societal thing, but now it’s also very personal for you because you’re a person. And even though millions of people go through the exact same thing you’re going through, we all have a different flavor of it. And it’s ours to grapple with. So when I hear you talk and when I see you, I see a woman who is sick and tired of carrying this burden.
Really, that’s what I see. I see a person who is absolutely sick and tired of carrying this burden. This burden does not work for you anymore. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work on any level for you. There’s nothing about it that serves you anymore. Nothing. zero.
Sometimes we have these things we’ve got to learn from them. You are at the point in my belief where it’s like this doesn’t work. This is like a bad splinter. We’ve got to pull this out already. So that’s where I see you being at. The reason why it’s hard to pull out the splinter is for all the reasons we say so far and because it is your mother. And she tried her best. We love her. She’s great. Like you say, she’s a woman of her times.
I can guarantee you, explain exactly where it came from from her. She was the first generation exposed to all the new images and all the new nonsense, and she wants her daughter to have the best start in the world.
And if she vaguely perceives you not being the ideal, that means you’re not going to be loved, and you’re not going to be okay. So she wants to change that, so she has to do her judgment thing. So that was her getting gripped by a virus, passing it onto you. She had no idea she was doing that.
Plus, like you said, she probably had a hard life, and we take our stuff out on our kids sometimes. Okay. She’s the baby. A lot of times, the babies, the youngest one either gets ignored or they get a lot of times the worst of the parents because the parents are done. And they’re dealing with other ones. So the youngest one doesn’t always get the full package of parental energy and attention. So you already have that. You already were the last kid on the block, getting all the hand-me-downs. On top of that, you didn’t get your mother’s blessing for you being okay as a body and as a woman and as a physical woman in the world. She didn’t give you that blessing, and it’s also an emotional blessing as well.
So what I want to say to you is that you have been functioning up until now, there’s a part of you that’s wonderful Catherine: the mother, the wife, this great human that you are. And there’s this other part of you that’s literally a little kid who didn’t get her mother’s blessing, and it’s like, “Huh?” And it’s sad. It’s unfortunate. It’s hurtful. And it comes up every time you encounter food and look at your body. You don’t know that that’s happening. But you’re being thrust back into your past, into this place where you weren’t given the thing you needed to move forward.
When we don’t get the thing we need to move forward at certain points in our development, there’s an aberration in the system. There’s a glitch. And that glitch reproduces itself. So then it looks like, “Oh, I’m not skinny enough. I’m not this enough. I need to diet.” It’s not like you’re a 4-year-old talking to yourself anymore, but still it’s the same spin cycle.
So here’s how to get out. I’m going to tell you how to get out of this. To get out of it, one first needs to consider what I’m about to say which is it’s now a self-initiating process. Now, you’re not a little kid anymore. Now, you are a mature woman. Now, you’re a queen. You have the power now to bless yourself. You have the power to repair it yourself. You have the power to re-mother yourself. You have the power to grant yourself the dignity of having a body that is acceptable in this world. Why? Because you say so. It’s your body. It’s your life.
You’re absolutely right. You go somewhere, the people that love you couldn’t care less if you wore this, you wore that, you gained, you lost. They don’t care. They love you. Your husband loves you. The people that have an issue with it shouldn’t even be your friends, for God’s sake. It’s like “You’ve got an issue with it? Unless it’s coming from a deep place of love, leave me alone.” So if somebody has a judgment of you, that’s not about you. That’s their issue.
So what I’m saying is you are at a place of self-initiation. Very important. Self-initiation where you have the power. You have developed yourself as a woman in this world. You’re a feeling, wise, queenly woman.
Except this one little part of you where you fall into the rabbit hole and you go back into your past where you’re a lost girl because you never had the feeling called, “Ah, I’m safe in this body because my mother says so. I am safe. I am loved no matter what.” You’ve always been given the message, “You’re actually not loved no matter what. You’ve got to lose a little weight.”
So you’ve always been imbalanced. You’ve always been standing on one leg, being knocked over at any given moment with anybody’s input. If any information came into your system that says, “Yeah, you’re right. She’s not fat. Look at that magazine. Look at that picture. This person. That person.” Your thoughts, the littlest thing knocks you over. Because it’s evidence for that little kid in you that “I’m not acceptable. Oh my God, here’s more evidence. Mommy was right.”
So that’s what the kid in you is doing. So what I’m saying is I’m trying to make that process, that voice—I’m trying to speak for it. I’m trying to reflect to you what I hear it saying. It’s an old voice. And what I’m saying is you actually have the power, the capability. You don’t need anyone else to help you do this. You could have mentoring or coaching, but it’s also ultimately a self-initiation where you say to yourself, “I will no longer carry this burden.” So that’s a choice.
You have to say to you because right now there’s a part of you that’s feeling so victimized because it feels like the world did this to you and there’s no way out because you’re a 5-year-old going, “Whoa. I’m not being loved.” A 5-year-old, it doesn’t make sense. “Wait a second. Mommy’s supposed to love me. This is very confusing.” So you go into confusion. It’s the kid in you that goes into absolute confusion, and you get paralyzed. And then you go into deep feeling, and you go into the hurt. So you end up swimming in paralysis. You’re in the hurt. You’re allowing yourself to feel this really hurts, but you don’t have a way out.
Marc: So now I’m telling you this is the way out.
Marc: So I’m speaking to the adult in you now. So the adult in you has to kind of wake up in the moment. This is you being a mother.
I want you to learn how to be your mother. I want you to learn how to be the mother for you that you know you wished you would’ve had.
So just like you’ve been a good mother to your kids. Did you have to learn a few lessons? Sure. Overall, I’m going to bet that the majority of you was a good mother and a caring mother. And you did your best, and you’ve learned a lot about being a good mother.
Right now, you know the most you’ve ever known about being a good mother. I want you to turn that inward onto yourself, and I want you to literally start to think every day, “How do I be a good mother, a really good mother, to that young girl in me who wasn’t given the message that she was loved and acceptable and okay and given the blessing you have every right to be in this world because you’re beautiful and you’re acceptable and this is good enough and you don’t have to change a damn thing?”
That’s the blessing I want you to give you. And you may have to give yourself that blessing every day. You may have to remind yourself of that every day, morning and night, wake up in the morning in bed, go to sleep at night in bed. It’s you giving that to you. Pretend you’re the mother in you talking to the little girl in you. See that little girl in you. Remember what she looked like. Look at a picture of yourself from way back then and talk to her. And be a good mother to her and love her up.
Because when you can do that, you’re going to start to make yourself whole again, and you’re this close. The veil between where you are right now—and I mean this. I’m not just saying this to make you feel good. I’m just saying this as a fact. The veil between where you are right now and where you want to be is so thin. It’s so tiny, but it feels huge to you. And I get it. It really feels huge. But I’m telling you. I’ve been doing this forever. It’s very small, because that virus has been so big and it’s been there for so long and you haven’t had a right strategy.
And I’m suggesting to you that this is a good strategy because you’re now a queen, and you have the power to uplift yourself. You have the power to ascend your throne like never before. It’s kind of like the Wizard of Oz. You remind me a little bit of Dorothy at the end when it’s like, “All you had to do—you had the power all along. You just have to click the shoes and say the right words.” So you’ve had this power all along, and sometimes we have to learn.
Now, here’s another place where I think you get a little stuck. You get a little stuck because it’s been a long time that you’ve been in this place. I think you get a little guilty, or you get a little remorseful. And you get down on yourself for the length of time, and I am going to ask you to, please, forgive yourself and let the locusts eat all those gears. And they’re gone and they’re disappeared. And this is your new life.
You have to forgive those years. You’ve got to. You’ve got to bless yourself because you’ve worked hard, and you’ve accomplished.
And you’ve been a good person, and as much as you’ve been burdened, you’ve had a good life. And now, you’re turning it around. And now is the time when you’re turning around. Ain’t never too late.
I urge you to really start to embrace what it will mean for you to forgive yourself that you’re at this stage of life, and it’s been this many years. And you feel like, “I should’ve gotten over this already.” So I want you to be young again. And young again means we just start fresh. That’s how we stay younger longer. It’s like, “Okay. Fresh start now.” Fresh start because you can forgive yourself. You can grant yourself. You can grant yourself the right to be here. You can reparent yourself. You can give yourself what your mother didn’t give you. You could continue her good work.
When I asked you before is there anything your mother didn’t accomplish that she wanted to do in this life, and you said, “No, actually not. She’s a woman of her time.” So we are always an improvement on it. We can be an improvement on our parents’ lineage. So the way you improve that is you now step into your power as a woman while you’re still alive. And that’s huge. Not many women get to do that. Not many women get to own their body and own their queenhood and accept it and love it and be here and go, “Here I am. This is good. In fact, this is great. This body moves. It’s healthy. It’s dancing. It got me this far. Let’s celebrate the next 25-30 years that you’re on the planet.” That’s a long time.
So maybe another piece—and I’ll say one more thing, and then I’m going to shut up. Another piece that might be helpful is for you to maybe write down a little vision statement, a little bit of visioning for yourself about what the last leg of your life is going to look like. What do you like this last 25 or 30 years to be? Who do you want to be? Because I promise you, you can be that person. I have no doubt. I’m betting my money on you. I have no doubt. I have no doubt because you have all the tools and all the skills and you’re going to bring it together now.
And it’s you loving yourself and you elevating yourself. So instead of waiting for my mother to give me that thing that she couldn’t give you. She was not able. So we have to forgive her. We have to forgive you. You have to forgive you for not figuring it out sooner. This is hard stuff. And then we have a fresh start, and you grant yourself the right to be here. You bless your body. You bless yourself. You bless that young girl, and you do it every day. It’s a practice. There are days you’re going to really feel it and believe it, and there are days you’re going to take a step back. It’s a practice that’s going to build on itself faster than you think.
And at some point, you’re going to break through. At some point, your life will look so different. I mean that. It’s going to be the difference between being underwater and having your head above water. Underwater, you can’t breathe. You’re all wet. It’s a little weird. Your head above water, it’s a whole different universe. That’s the difference that it’s going to be. I promise you. Apply yourself in this direction. It’s you re-mothering yourself.
Catherine: I do believe you. Sometimes, because of the work that I do with other people, it makes me feel that I need to do this work because the heart of my work is about learning to love yourself more. And then I feel I really need to do that myself otherwise. And because of the long and troubled history that I have, I think I know the territory of not loving myself well enough to teach it. But I think the missing piece is I don’t yet really know the territory of loving myself.
Marc: How about we say this—that you’re learning it better and better and better? Because you have been loving yourself over the years in the best way you know how, and you’ve been effort-ing. And you’ve been trying your best. So the reframe is you’re just getting better at it, and we’re always teaching what we need to learn. We’re teaching what we need to learn.
So you’re getting even more exquisitely better at it. That’s what’s happening here. Not like you’re learning it for the first time. Not that you’ve been deficient. It’s just that now we’re kicking it up to a whole different level. And this whole new level happens to be huge because you’ve been preparing for a lifetime. I mean that.
You’ve been preparing for a lifetime. Now, you have the knowledge, the wisdom, the heart, the understanding, the support around you to do it.
Marc: And it’s a process. It’s a journey. Could it happen overnight? Sure. Does it tend to happen gradually? Absolutely. But again, it’s not just learning to love yourself. Because if it’s just learning to love myself at this stage of the game, you would do it. Like, “Oh, I’m speaking bad words. Let me learn how to love myself.” Right now, you’re doing a deeper dive, and the deeper dive is more strategic. And it’s going more into what I think is ground zero into the heart of where this challenge for the most part originated from. It comes from the world, and, specifically, it came through your mother. And that’s the potency.
It’s that relationship of you not getting the blessing from her so that your body and being and soul could feel okay in this world. You’ve never been given that, so you don’t know what that feels like. And when you don’t have that, we walk through the world with kind of a little bit of a gaping hole. And that gaping hole is “My body’s not okay. I’m not okay. It’s not okay. It’s not okay. I’m not safe. I’m not okay.”
Catherine: When I was little, I remember this incident when I would’ve been about eight and my sister, the skinny sister, would’ve been about 12. And we got this big bag of hand-me-down clothes from some rich relative or whatever. And Deborah and I with great excitement went through all of these. She put on one thing, and she thought she looked fabulous. I put on another thing, and we went downstairs to show ourselves off. And my mother and my grandmother looked at us with horror. And my mother said, “You look as if you were poured into that,” to me. And my grandmother said, “You look like a yard of pump water,” to my sister.
And we just both felt really shamed because we had thought we looked great. These were kind of odd clothes. They weren’t really kids’ clothes particularly, and we thought we looked great. And we were wrong apparently. It’s that story of you may think you look okay, but actually you don’t. And it’s that…
Marc: That’s what you’re changing. That’s what you’re changing.
Marc: That’s what you’re going back in time and that’s what you are correcting. So you’re correcting it. You’re no longer giving it power. We’re now at a fork in the road, and the fork in the road is one way actually leads to the same way which is “I’m going to let that impact me, and I’m going to keep reproducing it. And they told it to me, but now I’m going to take it on. And I’m going to say the same things to myself.”
Marc: “And I’m going to reproduce that because that’s what I was taught.” So that’s the habitual way that you were taught as a child, and that’s the best that they knew how. But now, because you’re an adult woman and you’re smart and you’re wise and you’ve got some tools in your toolkit now, now you can look at it and go, “Ugh, God, was that a bad case of adult-ing and parenting. That didn’t work. Let me correct that now. Let me let that no longer live in my system as a fact because it is factually incorrect. It’s not the truth of who I am. It’s not the truth of who I was then. It’s not the truth of who I am now.”
And only you can grant yourself that. Nobody from the outside can give it to you. Even if you shrunk your body down right now, and I promise you I meet so many people who shrink their bodies and get to the weight that they want and it gets worse. Because you could change the body oftentimes, but it doesn’t mean your inner world changes any. And oftentimes, I’m going to tell you a majority of the times it doesn’t. It’s got to be an inner shift at the very, very, very, very least.
So that’s what you’re doing now. That’s the fork in the road where you are stepping into your adult. You’re able to be in your queen, in your adult, and look at that little girl in you that’s hurt, and go, “Wait a second. I’m going to take care of her now. She’s mine. I’ve got her now.” So every time she’s feeling hurt, you are there for her. So I literally want you to function as if you have different personalities and you notice when that little girl in you is getting hurt.
You’re going to be the good mother. You’re going to catch it and say, “Hey, sweetheart.” You could talk to her. Talk to her out loud. Talk to her silently. Journal to her. However it works for you to communicate to her, but it’s really good to speak to her directly, silently or to yourself, and tell her what she needs to hear to feel loved and appreciated and blessed and accepted.
And you keep giving that to yourself every day, and you will heal your heart. You will heal your past.
You’re going to get connected up in a whole different way. I mean that. I really mean that. I’ve got no doubt. It’s believing in yourself. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to be scary. But believing that even though it’s scary, you can do this. Even though you’ve never done it before, you can do this.
And this is a huge leap. You’re making a big leap, but you’re perfectly poised to make the leap. This is a leap you couldn’t make 20 years ago. This is a leap you can make now.
Marc: You are welcome. This is a lot. To me, if you were my client, we would’ve taken about probably eight sessions to get here. We would’ve arrived here gradually. Okay. So you’ve just signed up for a very fast track because I said at the beginning of this conversation I really felt committed to serving you. So this is me kind of jumping ahead and giving you really the punchline of the work, giving you the “here’s where we would’ve gotten to.” With just a little more smoothing of the pillows and a lot more talk and a lot more exploration and a little bit more meandering, we would’ve gotten here.
I’m happy for you. I’m really happy for you. I think you have something here.
Catherine: I do too. At one level, I know this already. And yet, it’s like that T.S. Eliot thing of coming back to this place as if it’s for the first time.
Marc: Yes, exactly.
Catherine: And if not now, when? That kind of just [exhales]
Marc: Yeah, that’s the shift. It’s all about now. We’re not going to put it off into the future. That little girl in you is not going to just get spun around and get all dizzy and confused because now you’re standing by her. Now there’s the awake, adult queen in you noticing, watching, and seeing her and shining the light of consciousness on her and guiding her.
Catherine: And just saying it’s okay the way it is right now, however it is.
Marc: 100%. 100%. You have to change nothing to have it be perfectly okay. There’s nothing to change. There’s no physical thing. There’s no diet. There’s nothing to change. Once you can hang there for a little while and you get it and you feel it, then new possibilities open up. Then it’s just a new world. And you’ll see different things and different distinctions, but for now, nothing needs to change other than your full blessing and love and acceptance of you as you are right now, nothing to change. Zero. Not a single thing.
If you overeat and you binge eat, love her, forgive her, hold her, it’s okay.
Not there’s something wrong with you; you need to change. No. It’s a tough time. Here’s a tough behavior. Still love you. Love yourself into change. There’s nothing to fix. There’s nothing to stop. There’s nothing to overcome. This is all about interjecting love, pure love, unconditional love where previously there was judgment, change, fix, shift, manipulate, try to stop, try to control. Just love.
Catherine: Thank you.
Marc: You’re welcome. A suggestion that may be helpful when we get off in a minute or so, you might want to take a few notes for yourself or do a little bit of journaling and just see what comes up for you. That’s all. Just see what kind of wisdom comes through.
Marc: I so appreciate you just kind of laying it out there, and this is some of the most important… No, no, no. This is in a lot of ways the most important piece of work you’ll ever do in your life because you’re going to claim yourself fully for the first time. You’re going to own yourself and love yourself fully for the first time. Not everybody gets to do that in this world. And you’re going to feel the benefits of that. Like I said, it’s a practice, but you’re going to get there way sooner than you think. Way sooner. And the benefits are going to show up very quickly. You’re going to be surprised.
Catherine: Thank you.
Marc: Yeah. And you and I will connect in a bunch of months down the line, and we’ll check in and see how you’re doing. And I wish you all the good energy and everything you need to stand by yourself and love yourself from this moment forward.
Catherine: Thank you. And thank you for the work you do and the questions you ask on the—wow. Thank you.
Marc: You’re very welcome. You’re very welcome.
Catherine: I’ll see you in a few months.
Marc: You shall. Catherine, thank you so, so much.
Catherine: Thank you.
Marc: And thank you, everybody, for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast. Take care, my friends.
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