Your Inner Toddler & Inner Saboteur are BFF's

I saw that many responded well to my email on Tuesday and I wanted to follow up with another email about the inner toddler, to bring about more clarity and awareness. I want to teach you more about this little toddler and your saboteur, how they work together... AND....  how they keep you stuck when they work together!! 

See, in the OLD dieting mindset, the toddler pushes back with "you're not gonna tell me what to do!" and the saboteur is like "I'll show you!" and so when you give in to them, and their attitudes, you re-enter the cycle of feeling like a failure, get super frustrated and as a result engage in the BLAME GAME..

And no, this isn't something cool like Jeopardy...  "I'll take eating off track for $200, Alex!" 

The BLAME GAME is deeper, more pervasive, and a lot more sinister... AND.. your inner saboteur thrives off the BLAME GAME...

See the saboteur has elements of your ego.. and if you missed my email a while back about your ego, I'll explain a little here. Not all 'ego' is bad and not everyone understands the function of ego what I'm explaining here is very different from what you might here about someone who is egocentric in the frame of 'Oh he or she has a big ego'. That's not what I am talking about here at all. 

See the function of your ego is designed to keep you safe. It goes with what makes you comfortable and what you are used to, so anything that pushes you outside your comfort zone triggers your ego.

It feels uncertain. It feels unsafe. It feels foreign. 

Even, if that action you are taking, (such as lifestyle change for your health and well-being) is beneficial in the long-term. 

You ego is trying to protect you and when the ego is triggered, you become uncomfortable and this is when the inner saboteur can strike easily. 

Discomfort. Frustration. Uncertainty.

This triggers you deep because you've never been taught to deal with change, you've never been taught to self-soothe, and you've likely never been taught how your brain really works, or how behavior change works. 

And so when stress comes up when you are trying to FOCUS, you are trying to 'BE GOOD', and you're TRYING to eat on plan, your saboteur leans in and says..'come on... just one bite, it'll make you feel better..." 

Your inner saboteur is sometimes a little mad man and sometimes (when playing BFF with your inner toddler), they tag team on you so you're like "screw it" and then the cycle begins.

Yet when you do that, the BLAME GAME begins.. because after you've said "screw it" and you munch or nom on whatever it is.. you feel like total and utter ....***(insert expletive here)***!!! 

Then, you BEAT YOURSELF UP. You call yourself every name in the book. You isolate because the shame is so big and so loud inside your head that you can't even talk about it because you just feel that awful..

Maybe it's been only a day that you've been REALLY focused on doing well and your meal plan, or maybe it's been a week, or maybe even a month..  and in that one moment, you feel that you blew it.. 

Maybe the trigger was stress.. or your mother-in-law (also stress), or maybe your ex-husband (also stress), or maybe it was work junk, bad friends, a crazy hectic schedule, or a bill that came in that totally overwhelmed you...

Whatever it was.... the little negative nellies inside... Your Inner Toddler - who doesn't do well with receiving or expressing emotions and is rattled when you tell him/her what to do.. and the self-saboteur who is a huge procrastinator and says.. "let's deal with real life tomorrow" steps in.. those TWO together are HELL to live with... 

and because you don't know how to properly tame them.. they ZAP you every time.. 

See, here's the thing.. 

Your Inner Toddler.. not such a bad guy, even though he/she gets a bad wrap..  Sure, the little guy is rebellious as hell, but what do you know about rebellion and why it happens?

Your Inner Saboteur.. also not terrible.. the saboteur just wants for things to stay status quo and when you're all 'trying to get healthy and stuff' the saboteur is like.... "do something different? no that's crazy and scary and who are we going to be?" 

And then BOOM.. before you know it you have downed a whole 1/2 sleeve of thin mints (those damn girl scouts) and you're wondering WHYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!

So... first...breathe.. 

What might be ONE thing that you learned from staring down your inner toddler and saboteur? 

Both of them are rebellious, so instead of trying to beat them both to a pulp in the form of self-criticism and emotional disparagement, which by the way, up until now hasn't worked.. you need new techniques.. 

I want to teach you how to tame the toddler and the saboteur... but first you've got to learn to speak their language... 

What do they need? 
What do they want? 

So think for a second. .what does any toddler want? 


And.. when you beat the toddler up.. what happens ? 


Do you see a theme here? 

The saboteur and the inner toddler both need UNDERSTANDING, ACCEPTANCE, LOVE, COMPASSION, and TO BE COMFORTED...

Now.. wait a second.. I did not tell you that you could pick up the tube of thin mints, put that back down! 

I said that the toddler and saboteur wanted to be comforted... which in turn makes you want to act out.

Instead of beating yourself up when you are stressed and start reaching for the nearest vending machine or candy bar.. you need to learn how to SELF-SOOTHE the little inner you.. the toddler, so you will NOT turn to food.. 

See, turning to food is the behavior that you've used when you HAVEN'T BEEN SOOTHED PROPERLY! 

And, since you likely haven't learned how to soothe when you're stressed, or angry, or frustrated, or any other emotion for that matter, what happens?  Your little rebellious toddler gets cranky..

Now, I know there's gonna be a bunch of you that say.. "Wait a minute? What about night eating when I'm calm as a cucumber?" 

MY response... EXACTLY! 

Of course you night eat.. because you're bored, lonely, or .. you don't want to hear your inner thoughts, so you avoid them.. and then the toddler has this great idea to go get some munchies to ensure those uncomfortable thoughts don't surface... 

So again, you need a NEW way to soothe yourself when it's NOT mealtime.

So, here are a few self-soothing techniques to help you calm the inner toddler and inner saboteur to help you HEAL them both, showing them compassion and love, all while you stay out of the kitchen and away from the munchies. 

1. Get to know yourself and your inner toddler 
This includes practicing awareness of your emotions or behaviors. Get to know you and when your little toddler gets cranky and what he/she needs. Are you bored? angry? tired? sad? lonely? What's going on inside? This awareness will also help you prevent mindlessness as well. 

2. Let the toddler know that he/she is safe and you're attending to his/her needs.
Just like a REAL toddler, if you were to yell, scream or rant and rave, the toddler would be upset. How do you comfort your inner toddler? Just like you would a real toddler - reassurance, love, compassion and patience. Put your right hand over your heart and say "self.. I've got you. Just take a moment and breath. We are going to figure this out." 
While you make think this is overly simplistic, I promise, once you start practicing this, you'll see it's pure gold, because you've likely never allowed yourself to acknowledge your feelings before.. and this helps you acknowledge them and allow them to come through, which will help prevent you from eating them! 

3. Find something soothing to keep your mind and hands busy. 
Once you've soothed the inner toddler a bit, go do something that can also be helpful and soothing. Go for a quick walk (even if it is around your office or in your house). Take a sip of water. Call a friend. Put on some music.  It's important that you refocus your attention on other things. 

4. Acknowledge your Toddler may still want food & combat it with tough LOVE 
It's likely your mind might drift to food, and this is when you lovingly call out your toddler. 
"Hey self, I love you and it's not meal time. we are not eating now. You can have some water. Or we can go for a walk."  Parenting is hard, ya'll! But this is so true.. If you can offer some tough LOVE, you'll be stronger for it. Remember, this is not shaming, this is not restricting.. this is a tough love reminder that it's not time for food, and that it's time to do something different (see #3). However, when you acknowledge the head hunger, or mental hunger, it also allows you to see that this is a habitual issue and not healthy in the long-term. So, you call it out like it is, and hold your ground. 

Compassion is something that I didn't learn until I was in my 30s.. and regardless of how young you are, this is a topic that many bariatric patients still don't know how to practice. The art of compassion is really being KIND to yourself and loving just like you would a best friend.

However, loving and kind in the bariatric world does NOT mean going out for ice cream when the crap hits the fan.. It means that we lovingly call out  the excuses, get super real, and tell it to yourself just like you would give it straight to your best friend. 

Self.. I love you, and those thin mints are not going to help you get to where you want to go. 
Toddler.. but I want them..
Self... I know you do.. and it's okay to want them. It's not okay to eat them. Dinner is in two hours.. They will make you feel like crap, and because I love you, I don't want you to feel like crap. So, let's go dance it out.
Toddler.. Thanks for loving me.. Yes, it's hard.. but I love that you're here for me. .((hug))

Okay, so not every conversation with your toddler will go so smoothe.. but my point here is to change the dynamic of your relationship.

If you're constantly hating on yourself, and rebelling, that is the cycle you are creating.

Conversely, if you can start to LOVE yourself super hard and get super real, and call yourself out on your own BS... I promise you that you will grow in ways you've always wanted and may have never imagined.

I hope this email has served you well this week..

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Have a blessed weekend and start working on loving your inner toddler and yourself.