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The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating Acceptance and Self-Care

NEW LESSON: SUMMER 2012

Develop a nurturing way to talk to yourself. Use this caretaking voice to help you through difficult moments.

When you are in emotional trouble, you need comfort. While you may turn to others at times to provide this function for you, it is also helpful to be able to soothe yourself. Yet at the moment you are feeling distressed, it can feel difficult to calm down. Try to find a nurturing voice that can guide you through your pain and bring some relief.

Some diet survivors find it useful to think of the younger child within them. If this concept works for you, try to talk with the part of yourself that is in trouble in the way that you imagine someone who is caring would talk to that child. Or, if this image doesn’t fit for you, imagine the voice of a compassionate person speaking to you. That voice may be your own, or it may be the voice of a family member, friend or anyone else whom you experience as kind and compassionate. You may even try to imagine our voices, keeping in mind the tone of this book. Whatever feels nurturing to you is fine.

Next, try to find the words that will help you through the moment. If you are overwhelmed by intense feelings, this caretaking voice may say very gently to you, "It’s going to be okay. I know you are upset right now, but these feelings will pass. We'll get through this together. You are doing the best that you can." If you are experiencing guilt over a recent eating experience, this nurturing voice might say, "It takes time to normalize your eating. Let's try to think about what happened so that next time there's a better chance that things will go differently." If you feel depressed because of negative body thoughts, this gentle voice might say, "I know this is really hard for you. It's okay if you just need to feel bad for a while. When you’re ready, we can also think about some of the ideas that have helped you in the past when you were so hard on yourself."

Can you feel the essence of this nurturing voice? This is a voice of empathy and compassion. It is a voice that communicates that you are entitled to your feelings. It is non-judgmental yet leaves room for curiosity, hope, and change. This nurturing voice helps you to take good care of yourself as you try to tolerate uncomfortable feelings.

Activity: A gentle and compassionate voice

Think of a difficult moment you’ve recently experienced. What is the voice that you needed to hear? Imagine what that gentle voice sounds like, and what it says. See if you can connect to that voice and write down the words you needed to hear during that time. Become familiar with the sound and tone of the gentle speech that will support you in times of need.

The difficult time I recently experienced was when

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The voice I needed to hear during that difficult time would say to me

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Hearing this voice helped me feel

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Oh, there is something in that voice that reaches the innermost recesses of my spirit.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow