We have a questionnaire new clients complete before coming in. We ask all the basic, annoying questions name, address, height and age. Buried in the list is my favorite question, “on a scale of 1 to 10 how content are you with your physique?” The answer to this question has little to do with what you weigh (something we don’t ask) but it says a lot. It’s important to revisit that question as sessions progress because that number, despite progress, can be stubborn.
Last week, I had a client in my office. She’s incorporated all sorts of healthy foods into her day, her energy and mood swings are better but she told me about something that happened recently that concerned me. She saw some friends she hadn’t seen in a while. This is a somewhat competitive group of friends as she described them. Despite her improvements and weight loss she felt insecure in their company. In that moment on a scale of 1-10 she’d be lucky to give herself a 5.
For years with clients I’ve call these modes we have our angel and devil voices.
Our angel voice tells us “keep going you’re making progress”, our angel voice says “you look great” and encourages us to stand tall and proud. There’s also the devil voice. This nasty voice says “who are you kidding you look like crap. I don’t care if you’re successful or evolved.” With food the devil voice can say, “you may as well have one you’re never going to stick to this plan, you never do.”
As I read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please this weekend I loved when she talked about the demon voice. “You are six or twelve or fifteen and you look in the mirror and you hear a voice so awful and mean that it takes your breath away.” It tells you that you are fat and ugly. The voice that talks badly to you is a demon voice. And the scary part is the demon is your voice.”
One of the surprising thing about getting a little older, out of your teens and twenties (and thirties in my and Amy’s case) is that the demon voice still makes appearances. As she says
“If you are lucky, you can live a life where the demon is generally forgotten, relegated to a back shelf in your closet next to your old field hockey equipment. You may have days or years when you think the demon is gone. But it is not. It is sitting very quietly waiting for you. This motherfucker is patient.”
So what do you do? What do you do if “you should know better” and are still listening to this demon? With my client who continued to listen to this devil/demon despite numerous positive changes, I knew we had to give the angel voice more clout. Every day I suggested she note (via email to me) when she had a demonic thought (sounds so evil) and how she could counter the thought. Also, daily she was to find something about her body she felt genuinely good about. Just as your make an effort to eat a healthy breakfast, you need to make an effort to silence this sabotaging sentiment.
When the demon starts to slither my way and say bad shit about me I turn around and say “Hey. Cool it. Amy is my friend. Don’t talk about her like that.” Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.
Even demons gotta sleep.
Do you have a demon voice? Is it quieter as you get older? When does it pop up? What do you do? Have you read this book?
*The winner of Slim by Design is The Spicy RD, we will be in touch to arrange your delivery copy.