Hello SOTGC community,
Deep listening is a vivid expression of compassionate care. To deeply listen is to tell a person, “You are what is truly important at this very moment.” It is an act that transmits instantaneous empowerment and imparts significant therapeutic value. And it is highly effective in helping shift a patient into positive receptiveness toward personal healing.
When Alice’s “Strong-Headed Saboteur” arose in the process of my deep listening, I suggested that she also join in the collaborative effort to heal around the food addiction. We created a mind-body session during a luncheon wherein we would acknowledge all aspects of Alice—the aspect experiencing anxiety around the food, the aspect that had given up on fighting the addiction (“Little Alice”), and the aspect actively sabotaging any efforts of regaining control and moving toward recovery.
With menu in hand, I had Alice verbalize the feelings that arose as she recognized her impulsive tendencies. I had her slow down so we could identify each feeling and its purpose. We then transformed the impulsive food choices into supportive, self-honoring choices, all the while talking through the reason for this new approach.
Using guided imagery, we would periodically check in throughout the lunch with each of Alice’s inner aspects—the hopeless victim, the saboteur, the anxious self. Also, we employed mindful eating as a way to stay in the moment, and to focus on satiety.
As a result, Alice’s anxiety dissipated. She was able to eat at a leisurely pace without “inhaling” her food. For the first time in a long time, she could actually taste the flavors and feel the textures of her entrée. She ended up eating only a quarter of her usual amount, and felt full and satisfied.
Before integration and healing can begin, we need to embrace all aspects of ourselves. Most people discard, suppress, repress or ignore the shadows within them. The key to healing, however, is the embracing of all of oneself, for every aspect has a different need, and every shadow possesses a positive attribute that has served us in a beneficial way. The question to always ask is: Does this aspect currently serve us for our highest good? If no, how might we transform it into a habit, skill or quality that does serve us?
In Alice’s case, at a young age, food had come to be associated with soothing. And it was continuing to fulfill that function even though it was no longer serving Alice.
Similarly, the Saboteur told us about her purpose in Alice’s life. She was there to be the fiery spirit — the internal toughness — with which Alice could survive difficult times. When applied to the food addiction, however, this feistiness derailed Alice’s efforts rather than helping her achieve her health goals.
Ultimately, what Alice realized was that someplace within herself she did not feel she deserved to achieve her stated intention—overcoming her addiction. Giving ourselves permission to achieve what we wish as it relates to health and a state of well-being is sometimes harder than we consciously recognize, and self-sabotage often comes into the picture. In this instance, Alice acknowledged and dialogued with her emotions and employed mindfulness, and she used a mind-body connection technique to address her emotional food addiction as well as her anxiety.
Next installment, we’ll delve a little deeper into the mind-body connection, and how knowledge of the process assists us in getting our bodies to do what we want them to do.
Photo credit: inspirationboost.com