In this Thursday Therapy episode, Glenn helps you to understand if underlying issues are making you self-sabotage your eating or weight management, talks you through some common reasons why people sabotage themselves, and guides you through what to do if you think you may need to work on deeper issues in order to have lasting weight management success.
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- Question from Dr Julie T. Anne on underlying issues and self-sabotage. [3:00]
- When should you look at deeper issues relating to eating and weight issues. [5:02]
- Some people don’t have underlying issues. [6:22]
- Some people do have underlying issues. [9:00]
- Reasons for self-sabotage: self-esteem. [11:30]
- Reasons for self-sabotage: weight as protection. [11:45]
- Reasons for self-sabotage: resistance to change. [12:24]
- Reasons for self-sabotage: limiting core beliefs. [13:11]
- Reasons for self-sabotage: attachment style & relationships. [14:02]
- Why it’s important to address these issues even if they are not sabotaging weight. [16:33]
So, tell me why you’re here? Well I just feel like lately I might have let myself go a little bit and perhaps should spend a little bit more time looking after my health. Yes, yes, well you obviously need to learn to love yourself before you can take care of yourself, so we’ll need to spend a bit of time looking at the underlying issues and the reasons as to why you hate yourself so much. I don’t really hate myself. You may not think so but this is just defence mechanism. Okay, right. It’s a deep sense of self-loathing that all of my clients have so we will get to the bottom of it. It’ll only take one or two years of weekly sessions naturally, why don’t you just begin by telling me everything you can about your childhood and then we’ll might start with your family starting with your paternal great-grandmother. You’re the expert. Welcome to Thursday Therapy, the question we’re answering today is about dealing with deeper issues. So, welcome to Thursday Therapy, I’m Glenn Mackintosh, the weight psych, and the question were answering today is a really interesting one from another weight psych, Dr. Julie T. Anne. Now I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Julie probably less than a month ago and wow, what a meeting. I think it would be freaky that you could get to people who live halfway across the world that think and feel and even talk so similarly, it’s really, really kind of freaky. Julie runs an eating disorder and weight management clinic called a new beginning. It’s one that gives me a kind of a professional jealousy, so it must be really, really good and she also runs a healthy way out which is a six-week program for overcoming emotional and binge eating. Like I said we do really share a very similar space. Dr. Julie and I we’re very much against the dieting approach but we’re not so far as being healthy at every size purist, so we occupy this little similar space and I tend to work more on the symptoms, eating, movement, drinking, whereas Julie tends to work more on the underlying issues although there is a real lot of crossover. So, let’s see what Julie has to ask me for a Thursday Therapy question. “Hi Glenn, it’s Dr. Julie and I am back at my treatment centre in Scottsdale, Arizona after an amazing two weeks down under. The highlight of my trip, well you know of course, it was meeting you and learning that we not only have similar hearts and shared interests but definitely a passion for helping our clients who are struggling with body image and weight in their relationship with food to find long-term sustainable relief through taking a healthy non-dieting approach. So, this is my question for you Glenn, as an eating disorder specialist and a licensed psychologist, many times people come to me and they say you know what Dr. Julie, I know what I’m supposed to do, I know about intuitive eating and believe me I am really, really committed and very well-intended, I am working really hard to change but something is just stopping me from being able to be successful and a lot of times they talk about really this compulsion to overeat that seems to kind of take-over, it seems to be really being driven by something else, so as a psychologist we then start looking at the underlying issues that we know are oftentimes related to the compulsion to overeat, especially given the scenario and my question to you is this, do you feel that it is necessary for all the people that you work with to look at the underlying psychological issues, is that necessary for everybody? That’s my question for you, thank you so much, Glenn for all the work that you do you’re working to change the world. You’re magnificent. Thanks.” Oh, Julie thank you so much for those kind words, any other Thursday Therapy question askers if you flattered me that much I will definitely answer your question but in all seriousness, this is an absolutely wonderful question. I think that a lot of people get really kind of confused about this space, do I just kind of work on the symptoms or is it something underlying for each and every one of us that we have to kind of unlock before we can reach success and I think just from my clinical practice and I know Julie, you and I both do a lot of research and the you know from a lot of the research that I’ve read that I think we have some really good answers that can help you if you’re kind of wondering, is this me? Do I have these underlying issues that are sabotaging my success? How am I going to move forward and how do I even know if I have those issues? So, it’s a wonderful question guys. Before I answer it, I will let you know I love these health professionals’ questions because I think they have a great ability to synthesize issues that a lot of people have but wouldn’t necessarily ask but to let you know, I am going to try and sort of dovetail one health professionals question with one of your questions because I think that’s a kind of a nice balance I just wanted to answer this one because it actually ties in with something that we’re doing on our latest Biggest Loser transformed episode. Thursday Therapy will be published the same day as that episode, so it kind of ties in really nicely anyway, let’s get to answering the question. So, my first thought is that it is a very nice idea that there is some underlying reason that is sabotaging your eating, your physical activity or your weight management but for some people I see this is not the case. So, for some people it could be that believing that you have some underlying reason that’s sabotaging your success is actually your biggest limiting factor. I do see a lot of people who come in looking for that underlying hidden key and we finish what I call successful and effective therapy just by addressing the eating, the movement, the weight and the body image. The reality is that so many of us get it wrong by following the wrong I.e., a dieting process that just learning to free yourself from diets and learning intuitive eating, a healthy relationship with physical activity and to care for your own body in terms of body image, is that is the whole answer. So, it is quite possible that that there is no underlying reason that’s sabotaging your weight management success and I think that Dr. Julie actually, she said something in there that was really important, that that she will tend to work on these deeper issues when the person has been focusing on intuitive eating and trying really hard to learn intuitive eating. Dr. Julie I don’t know if you do that with everybody but this is the way that we tend to work on it, we tend to actually prefer to work on the symptoms, if you will and then and only then if the persons have been giving a really good go at learning these intuitive eating skills and remember we’re breaking out of the false hopes of the dieting industry, so we’re going to remind you the intuitive eating skills they do take time to learn. It really flies at weight management psychology that that someone has tried intuitive eating for a week and it didn’t really work out so there must be some underlying issue that we have to focus on. We tend to spend quite a bit of time building those skills and then if the person still really struggling to build those skills, well sometimes I cheat, for lack of better words and use some tapping or some hypnosis which can be really, really powerful and then if that doesn’t work then we start to tend to look at these deeper underlying issues. Now I’ve already said to you that a lot of people don’t necessarily have these underlying issues that are sabotaging their success but of course, a lot of people do, so how do you figure out if you’re one of them. Now the only sure-fire way would be to see a psychologist and if you can I would highly recommend that you find a psychologist like Dr. Julie or like myself who is skilled in clinical and general psychology as well as the weight management stuff and that will really help you guys together kind of tease apart how do we need to work on this, where do we start first, do we do it simultaneously and help you make sense of that, but of course I’m going to try my very best to give you some ideas that you can start to figure out whether this self-sabotage applies to you or not. The first thing I would say is that generally in my work, and again a lot psychologists work differently and a lot of this is my experience working with these people for over 10,000 hours this is really the area that I work in, in my experience, a lot of people ,if you do have an underlying reason, you know, so if I asked you and I could ask you now if you feel comfortable and safe enough to ask yourself the question, if not make sure that you have the right professional or personal support around you but if I ask you know what is the real reason? In my experience people with a little bit of checking, if there’s something that comes straight to mind, then it could very well be something that’s important to work on I think that’s a much more of a telltale sign than someone coming in and feeling like, I just feel like there’s something, so that can be one indicator, although in this area there are no surefire ways to know it’s a process of exploration. The other thing is that that sometimes I might give you a few common reasons why people sort of undermine their own success or sabotage themselves and if any of these really resonate with you, then it’s possible but that they’re issues that you might look to explore with the help of a qualified psychologist. So, sometimes the issue is related to your self-esteem or yourself worth and that can lead to feelings as if you’re not worthy to be taken care of and you’re not worthy to find success, so if that’s the case for you then that can be something that’s really powerful to work on. For some people, the weight can act as a type of protection and that can be for a whole variety of reasons especially past trauma and if that’s the case it can be very challenging of course to work your way through that but as Dr. Julie and other clinical psychologists and psychologists that specialize in helping people transcend these issues will tell you, a lot of the time a complete recovery is possible, so while it can be very challenging it can be also really, really rewarding because I kind of see sometimes this wait, if it’s a protection, has been like a kind of like a suit of armor and in a sense it does protect you but of course in another sense it really burdens you so it could be quite powerful to free yourself from that burden. Some people may experience a type of resistance to change, so there’s part of you that wants to change and then there’s another part of you that doesn’t want to change or another part of you that has a vested interest in remaining the same and again this can be for a whole variety of reasons but again very, very powerful to work through that and I sort of see it like that because if you’re going from point A to point B but you’ve got a little rubber band that’s holding you back and the work of yourself with your qualified therapist is to just tease apart that little rubber band, so you can move forward uninhibited. Some people will struggle to make lasting changes to their eating, movement, weight or body image due to some limiting core beliefs. Now these core beliefs can be a whole variety of things but a common one as an example is that you may feel you have a limited quota for success at life in general and so this could show up if you feel like every area of my life goes well but not my health or when my health goes well other things suffer and this could be a truly powerful limiting belief as can all of these limiting beliefs. It might help you understand that you can really do or be or have anything you want, so I kind of think with working on these limiting beliefs it’s great to do if it affects your weight management but sometimes it’s just great to do in general. So, for some people it can be important to look at your attachment style, that is your beliefs around relationships and the way that you interact with other people because for some people having relationships that don’t work very well or being worried that they will change as you take better care of yourself, either the relationship might not be so functional and it will get worse or you’re concerned that the relationship will get better and you’re not sure how you’re going to deal with that if these are issues that kind of resonate with you should probably have a look at your attachment style and see if you can make a plan for how you’re going to deal with the potential changes in your relationships as you begin to take better care of yourself. So, if some of this stuff really resonated with you my very strong recommendation, if possible, would be to seek the help of a registered psychologist. Now, if you can, like I said seek the help of someone who specializes in general or clinical psychology as well as the weight management stuff or if you can’t do that, I really find it very useful actually work with some clinical psychologists and some psychiatrists and they take care of some of the more deeper issues and I work on the more symptomatic issues which are more my cup of tea and that works really, really well, so you could definitely do that. The thing I think to remind yourself is that it’s kind of this very psychological cliché that once we overcome the underlying issue then the behaviours will just transform themselves and in my experience that doesn’t happen, so I know that that Dr. Julie and definitely myself, we will still want to work on the symptoms because sometimes even if you take care of the underlying causes, if there are some beforehand, as we know with you know problematic behaviours, if you will, sometimes they start for a reason and they just continue for force of habit, so don’t think if you have to work on these underlying reasons that that will then magically transform your behaviour. There will probably still be a bit of work to do at the other end where you have to develop a positive relationship with food and movement and your body. The last thing that I want to say is that even if you have a personal issue or some underlying trauma or something from your past that’s important to work through and it’s not related to your eating, it’s not related to your movement, it’s not related to your weight management, that of course doesn’t mean that it’s not important to work through just for you as a whole person. I’m constantly going to be encouraging you to zoom out from the number on the scales and even zoom out from your relationship with food and your relationship with movement and your body image because the reality is that you’re more than that, so even if you have identified some issues that are really, you know, important to work through, even if they don’t really relate to your eating or your movement or your way, I’d really encourage you to work through them anyway. We’ve talked about in a previous Thursday Therapy to not do things for weight loss but to do things because they’re good for you as a whole person and we are in this very weight centric society, sometimes I feel like I could you know recommend something to someone that’d be great for their mood, great for their relationships, great for their health and they kind of discount it because it might not lead to weight loss. Sometimes I feel like I could say to some of my clients I’ll give you a million bucks and the question would be, well does that come with weight loss, if the answer was no they wouldn’t take it. Now obviously that’s a joke but I do want you to take that understanding that if you’ve identified something that may be important for you to work on even if it’s not related to your weight management at all, I’d encourage you to be brave and start to work through that because you are much more than a number on the scales and sometimes and I’m sure that Dr. Julie will attest to this, that that we do get people that come in for one reason the eating, movement, weight and that we end up making much more profound transformations. So, guys thank you for being with me for another Thursday Therapy, this has been a bit of a deeper kind of Thursday Therapy, so if this has raised anything for you, that you’re not a hundred percent sure that you can deal with well yourself, please know that you’re not alone and find the support of somebody whether that’s a friend or a family member, whether it’s your doctor or whether it’s a qualified therapist that you feel comfortable with, of course as psychologists we always want to help but our first mandate is we don’t want to cause any harm, so please if you need to do whatever you can to take care of yourself and for a lot of people I would encourage you if you are going to take this journey into dealing with some deeper issues, you really need to have the support of a qualified mental health professional on your team. Speaking of qualified mental health professionals and then some, I’m going to give you all of the details to Dr. T. Anne’s work, her website, her Twitter and really, I’m going to encourage you to get all connected with everything that she does because she really is kind of the yin to our yang in this space and I’m sure that you can get a lot of value from her. So, guys thanks again for being part of Thursday Therapy and of course, you know a lot of people struggle with this question, so if you feel like anybody can benefit from this please share it with them and if you haven’t already, what are you doing, subscribe to Thursday Therapy. Thanks guys and I will see you in a couple of weeks. All right so what are you working on. Well, I’ve got um a bit of an issue with my weight and I really think that it’s probably there are some issues in my past that I really feel need to be explored and looked at more closely. Don’t worry, that’s all that rubbish that’s in the past, we’ll leave it at the door, actually I want you to put it in this box, put it in the box, yeah yep, all right, God now so over there, let’s move on focus on the now, just like that, oh well, it is hard but we’ve gotta move forward, you know. This is really just about eating and exercise, so I’m here to get you in head space to do that, we don’t want to waste all our time with that other rubbish.