My mother would best describe me as a ‘stubborn’ child. When I was growing up, this was not a good thing…
When she was trying to toilet train me, apparently I was slow to learn. This was a story she used to tell me because I remembered nothing about the actual event. So I assumed that it was just that – a story! It was sort of funny when I thought about it….
At a conscious level, I don’t remember the trauma of those months my mother spent trying to toilet train me. But my subconscious mind remembered! So when I started to probe the foundation of my eating, I came face-to-face with how my brain stored that time.
When faced with my mistakes, mom said things like ‘You should be ashamed of yourself’. She sometimes made angry retorts like ‘What’s wrong with you…’ and inserted a generous helping of guilt by letting me know that I caused her a lot of extra work because I made a mess. My mom also loved to talk about the failures, thereby rubbing my nose in it regularly and reminding me of the ‘bad’ kid I was for not doing it right. This went on for months – it was not just a one-time thing.
This completely destroyed my confidence, made me terrified of making mistakes, and made me ashamed if I did. And I adopted a belief that I was ‘bad’ and not deserving of love because when I made a mistake mom would push me away. She was angry and disappointed in my behaviour – so no love for me! Rejection by others became a huge fear for me. If someone this important could stop loving me, what would the world do? I think you get the drift…
Now I want you to know that I love my mom. She was not a bad woman – in fact, she is a very good woman. But she was overwhelmed as a mom, stressed by 2 children too close together and, like many of her generation, didn’t realize the effect her words, tone, and energy had on a very sensitive child.
On an emotional level, this trauma still lived in me today – I just didn’t connect the dots.
It would get triggered when I made mistakes that resulted in someone else getting angry with me. All of a sudden I would find myself in an abyss of shame and embarrassment, feeling like I was ‘bad,’ and trying to ‘hide’ the shameful event so that the world wouldn’t yell at me.
As you can imagine, these behaviours got in the way of a healthy response to feedback. It made me a pleaser in life – always worried about people’s reaction to what I said and did. In some cases, it made me cautious of speaking up in fear of a reprimand and it hijacked any innate ability to be a leader in my life. Finally, it resulted in me becoming a perfectionist – driving myself nuts with exceedingly high standards of performance in order to feel ‘good’ about myself.
This ‘shame’ has lived in me as the body fat I carried. My hate for myself grew as the years went by, resulting in the overweight child I eventually became.
And that hate for myself – on very deep, deep levels – is what I needed to address and transform to unshackle my weight and shed it. This transformation has been at the core of the lifestyle changes I have embraced and expect to succeed with.
Why is losing weight such an issue for most people? It’s not because they don’t know how to lose weight. The self-sabotage lives in us – silently – in the form of belief systems, emotional patterns, and mindsets that anchor the ‘fat person’ into us. And without us noticing we reinforce this belief system every time we act from it.
So every time I engaged something from the perfectionist in me I reinforced a belief that I was bad and didn’t deserve love. Every time I didn’t speak up and share what I truly felt, I was reinforcing a silent belief system that I cannot afford to make a mistake because they are right and I am wrong. And if I’m wrong, I’m bad… and then I’m sent to hell again to feel all of the shame that I have a built my life to avoid…
Trauma in our lives is a powerful thing. We need to heal our past in order for our lives to move forward. Until I addressed the shame, the potential to return to my former weight would always loom within me. This self-sabotage doesn’t just manifest itself in weight gain – it manifests itself as pleaser tendencies, anger, hurt, etc. What’s your inner struggle? What do you want to change about your life but don’t seem capable of changing? You can bet that something like this lies at the root of it.