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He was only a year old, sitting on grandma’s lap at the family dinner table.
It was a large, Italian family, with lots of talking and eating and reaching across each other, and this little boy realized he was hungry.
He hadn’t been eating solid foods for long but the scene before him—and “especially the fried chicken”—he recalled under hypnosis, “were making my mouth water and my stomach growl.”
But he was too little to reach any of it. Too small to even make anyone take notice of him as he squirmed vigorously on his grandmother’s lap.
It was this scene that triggered his subconscious mind to choose to hoard food within his body, as well as tell him that being “small” is no good. Both of these things manifested within him purely to protect him from ever feeling powerless and hungry at the same time again.
Fast forward some 40 years later, and multiple failed diets, daily exercise routines that didn’t deliver his hoped-for results, and a doctor’s warning that his blood sugar levels are slipping into the pre-diabetic range, and he knew he needed to find a more effective method of shedding excess weight.
Through hypnosis, he was finally able to address the real root of his lifelong struggles with weight and has since shed several pounds, and more importantly, gotten his blood sugar levels back into the normal range.
At the age of 23, she couldn’t figure out why she hated fruits and vegetables so much. It was becoming both a nuisance as well as an embarrassment. She wanted to go out to eat at nice restaurants with her boyfriend, with her friends, with her family, and not have to order from the kid’s menu.
She was pretty sure it was a phobia or maybe some sort of compulsive disorder. She’d been trying to get herself to eat both fruits and vegetables since her late teen years—with no success. She decided to try hypnotherapy.
While in hypnosis, she stumbled upon a long-forgotten memory of being three years old, and sitting at the kitchen table with her mother, father, and newborn baby brother.
She recalled feeling “left out” and “unloved” ever since her brother was born, and on this particular occasion, she was in no mood to eat.
Her mother tried coaxing her into eating her carrots and apples. When that didn’t work, they tried bribing her into at least eating one, single baby carrot or slice of apple. What ensued was a cacophony of both parents pleading with her to eat her food, to even just take a single bite because it was “healthy” and “good for her.” Do you see what just happened there?
By refusing to eat her food, she got both of her parents’ undivided attention for the first time since her baby brother was born! Unfortunately, she also equated this love and attention not only with her refusal to eat what was on her plate in that particular instance, but with any and all food that was considered “healthy” and “good for her.”
This was a major light bulb moment for her and allowed her to finally let go of this outdated method of garnering her parent’s attention.
You see, just because we all eventually grow up, that doesn’t mean our subconscious mind does.
To its credit, it believes it is the sole reason you are still alive to this day. It has been protecting you since you were a brand new, tiny human; helping you figure out how to get your needs met while also trying to help you make sense of confusing situations.
That last thing—the part about your subconscious mind helping you figure out confusing situations—is really important. This is where any ancient sense of guilt or shame, as well as any self-defeating and self-limiting beliefs, originate. Let me explain by using one more example from another session.
This client remembered being an infant in her stroller while her mother wheeled her down the sidewalk. She wasn’t yet old enough to speak, but she could hear everything going on around her, and even if she didn’t understand the exact meaning of the words she heard, she could certainly pick up on the emotions behind the words.
Some women stopped to coo at her in her stroller and one gently pinched her cheek and said, “What a cute, chubby little baby you are!” This, of course, made her feel wonderful! And while the words themselves may not have carried much meaning, the meaning behind them was clear…and it was good. These words got filed away in her subconscious mind—as does everything—and were attached to additional meanings later.
This same client recalled a scene that happened when she was five years old. She was getting ready for a school play. Her belly was peeking through her costume and her grandmother said, “She’s too chubby for that costume!” to which her mother responded with, “It’s just baby fat. Don’t worry. It’ll go away. She’s only five—leave her be.” And then the two women began arguing.
When you put these two scenes together—being the good detectives that you are by now—what emerges? First, she’s praised for being “chubby” and later she’s berated for it. How can both possibly be true? Further, how can this chubbiness of hers be the cause of uncomfortable conflict between the two women she loves most in this world?
When you string all of these together, you arrive at feelings of guilt for thinking she’s the cause of conflict among her loved ones—something that will be triggered time and time again throughout her life, and with no better explanation, her subconscious mind will continue to use these conflicts to reinforce the idea that it must be all her fault.
We also arrive at the root cause of an entire lifetime of feeling shame about her body. Not surprisingly, these feelings of guilt and shame resulted in a pretty devastating eating disorder marked by cycles of bingeing and purging.
Now, what’s most tragic about people suffering from bulimia (and yes, I say suffering from, not struggling with, because eating disorders are among the most insidious of disorders as they create their own closed circuit of self-perpetuation) is that the subconscious mind splits off into two distinct “helpers”—but one is actually trying to protect the individual from the other one. We have the “Restrictor” and the “Comforter.”
As you can probably tell by the names, the Restrictor is the one that tries to impose strict diets, exercise regimes, and will likely have some compulsive elements like counting every single calorie, keeping track of every step taken, getting on a scale multiple times a day, and maybe keeping a daily journal of body measurements. This is the part of the subconscious mind saying, “If you’re perfect, you’ll be loved,” or as in the case with my client, “If you’re skinny, the people you love won’t criticize you or fight with each other.”
The Comforter is the part of the subconscious mind that rebels against the Restrictor, and says something like, “You’re never going to be loved anyway so you may as well stop trying and go ahead and eat whatever you want,” and “You don’t need people to love you because you have food to love instead.”
And guess what happens then. You got it—the Restrictor steps in, berates the Comforter, and the whole tragic closed-circuit cycle continues on.
Fortunately, in the case of my client, after a few sessions she was able to navigate herself out of this self-perpetuating nightmare and begin to take steps toward releasing both the Restrictor and the Comforter, and healing a lifetime of guilt and shame.
And yes, while hypnotherapy is what initiated this process, the client has to put in the work too. It’s not a magic cure-all by any stretch. You only get out of it what you’re willing to put into it—as with pretty much everything, right?
Here are two other things that may prevent you from finding and maintaining your ideal weight:
>> You say you’re trying to “lose weight.” Never say you’re “losing weight.” The subconscious equates the words “lose” and “loss” with very bad things. We “lose our keys,” “lose our sanity,” suffer a “job loss.” Telling yourself that you’re trying to lose weight is a surefire way to convince yourself at a deeper level not to shed any weight at all.
>> You are focusing on the parts of your body you don’t like. Focusing on the parts of your body you don’t like will not lead to them becoming more beautiful, but it could very well lead to those parts becoming sick or diseased.
Choosing to eat healthy, nutritious food is a way of honoring your body, as is finding ways to move your body as often as possible.
I guarantee that if you make the conscious choice to honor your body each and every day, your body will honor you right back by letting go of any unwanted, unneeded, excess weight, and further gift you with strength and vitality.
You may not realize this, but you’ve been starving your mind even more than you’ve tried to periodically starve your body. I don’t mean that you’re lacking in education or intellect. I mean you’ve been insulting yourself, criticizing yourself, not nurturing yourself.
Your mind responds to only two things: the pictures in your head and the words that you say to yourself. Your mind is starving for this nourishment.
So, go ahead and give it what it craves because once you change those insults to praise, and turn that critic into a cheerleader, you will begin to bloom!
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anaïs Nin