So, I’m talking to myself, now. That’s a thing. Or rather, I’m talking to the voices in my head. Actually, I’m listening to the voices in my head. I’m letting them speak -sometimes out loud – so I am literally listening to them. And then I talk to them – again, sometimes, out loud.
If I didn’t consider myself crazy before, I think I’ve just crossed that threshold.
If any of you haven’t watched SPT’s webinar on self-compassion, it was amazing. I suggest you check out the videos with Everett Considine talking about the Bright Line Freedom course. I believe there are a few of them on the Bright Line Eating Facebook page. You should not trust me to accurately summarize them, but here’s what I took away from the webinar. Basically, we all have voices in our head. Like the saboteur that SPT likes to talk about. Considine breaks these voices down into separate personalities and sub-personalities based on patterns he’s noticed from counselling bright line eaters. The idea is that all these personalities are a part of you. They’re there for a reason, and they need a chance to express themselves. They need to be recognized. And then your true, authentic, balanced self can emerge, and boss the others around.
That may not have been the way he put it. But that was the jist of it.
Besides the authentic self, there are 5 major personalities:
- The inner critic
- The isolator
- The food controller
- The food indulger
- The wounded child
My little girl is a subtype of the wounded child. Why do I have a wounded child? I don’t know. I had a great childhood. But apparently, that little girl is still there, on the inside, and she’s hurting from something. My food indulger, on the other hand, is not the impulsive child subtype; she’s the seductive rationalizer. Thus, my confusion earlier about this voice in my head, which sometimes appears innocent and childlike, and at other times crazily manipulative. They’re 2 different voices. Suddenly, the arguments I have with myself make a lot more sense. I also have a very strong isolator, which surprises no one, given the extreme introversion. I once took a quiz that promised to tell me what my Millenial spirit animal was – I am a lone wolf, which interestingly is highly skewed toward males (which I am not – in case there was any confusion). My inner critic is less dominant, so I didn’t immediately identify with any of the subtypes. But it was a revelation to me to realize that I have a food controller – and she is wily. Of all the personalities, I think she is the one who most accurately impersonates me.
How, exactly, have I come to know all these personalities inside me? I don’t know. As Considine was describing them, they just jumped out at me. If you’ve watched the video, you may have had the same experience. When he was talking about having different personalities inside us, with different wants and needs that conflict with out own, things just started to click in my brain. I’ve always known there was a war going on inside of me; but I didn’t really understand why. As soon as someone suggested this framework for viewing the internal struggle, the reality of it just materialized. It was obvious. Then, as he would go through the subtypes for each personality, I would listen, and mentally tick them off: nope, nope, kind of, heck ya! I recognized my voices instantly. They’ve been in my head for years. And now they have names.
And we’re getting to know each other.
I cannot tell you how beautiful this is: listening to these voices, having conversations with them, instead of shutting them down, or worse, thinking they’re me and letting them run the whole house. Strangely, I don’t resent them anymore. I am perfectly ok with them being there. They have far less power over me, but they don’t resent me for that, either. We’re all getting along just fine.
I listened to the webinar a few days ago, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Just sitting with the information. Trying to really separate out these voices and recognize when one of them was speaking, and also trying to figure out what my authentic voice really sounds like. Today was the first time I actually let them speak. I was driving home in my car, which is always a dangerous place to be – my car is the means by which I pursue and obtain food. So I started thinking about food. Not surprising – I’d spent the morning helping to prepare and serve breakfast and lunch for a men’s conference at my church. So food was on my mind. The internal dialogue started something like this.
I wish I could have a sandwich. Those sandwiches looked so good. And I’m really hungry. Maybe when I get home I could have a little something. I’ll be all alone in the house – no, what am I thinking? I can’t go and ruin this whole thing. I want that checkmark at the end of the day. Do I want to be obese for the rest of my life? I do not eat flour or sugar. This is me now. This is my life. My sad, depressing, deprived life. Why am I doing this to myself? I can’t do this. Why on earth did I ever think I could do this? Really, is this reasonable? I can’t expect so much from myself. This is crazy. All I want is a little bit of bread… and maybe some chocolate… is life without bread and chocolate even worth living? Life is so hard. My head hurts, and I’m tired, and I can’t do this anymore.
Somewhere around this point, I realized what was going on, here. None of these voices was me. Not a single one. They were part of me, but they weren’t me.
I was suddenly very curious. Instead of trying to silence them, I let them speak. Yes, out loud. I was still in my car, so I figured it was a safe place. At which point, the conversation became something very different.
I want some bread.
I really want some bread. Everyone else got to have bread. And I didn’t. And I miss it.
I know. So do I.
I’m really sad about that.
That’s ok. You’re allowed to be sad. But you know sugar and flour won’t make you feel better, right?
Yeah, I guess I know that.
Are you really hungry? I don’t want you to starve.
Well, no, I’m not really starving.
Can you wait for supper?
That’s good. We’ll feel a lot better when we’re thin. It won’t always be this hard.
Ok. You’re right. Thanks.
I am not joking. My inner voice thanked me. For saying no to her. And we’ve been on good terms ever since.
So yeah, I’m making friends. Valuable ones. If this sounds like crazy-town to you, you’re not alone. I’m doubting my sanity as well. But it’s working, so there’s that. I expect we’ll become better acquainted in the weeks to come, so be prepared to hear more about them.
This is fun.