My deepest fear is that I am fundamentally flawed.
Somewhere in the darkest recesses of my psyche lies the belief that my personality, or the core essence of who I am, is broken, wrong, and defective.
I remember feeling this way when I was very young.
I think this core belief was formulated over time as I watched myself interact with others.
Grown-ups had to talk loudly and sternly to get me to listen.
I still seemed to exasperate them.
Mostly, though, the issue was with kids my own age.
I watched myself get bullied, teased, and pushed out of their circles.
I strived to make friendships, only to wind up rejected.
There was that amazing private school, south of San Francisco on the Peninsula, that had a three-day-long immersion interview process. After watching me in the classroom and on the playground for three days they decided not to let me into their school.
They said I was plenty smart enough.
That wasn’t the issue.
I was crushed. I wanted to go there so badly. It felt like utopia to me.
We appealed, and I spent another three days there, just so they could be sure.
At the end of the last day, they reaffirmed their no.
I never learned what I did wrong, but it felt so familiar to me.
Fast forward five years.
I didn’t get into any of the private high schools I applied to.
I had perfect grades and perfect test scores.
So what was the basis for their rejection?
The interview. My “me-ness” must have come out.
Or the letters of recommendation.
Sealed, of course. Whispering words of my true nature.
We all have our core fear.
Our deepest suspicion.
This is mine.
So later in life, when I found myself chronically heavy, chronically depressed, and unable to lose weight and keep it off no matter what I did, it was easy to believe that the issue was that I needed to learn to love and accept myself.
That would fix it.
I spent two decades in therapy, sorting all this out, and working on loving myself.
Over a span of twenty years I’ve worked the 12 Steps probably eleven times, in five different 12-step programs.
It all helped.
Seriously, it did.
But at the end of the day, I was still fat and depressed.
And I still felt flawed.
Then I found Bright Line Eating, and it told me something different.
Stop eating sugar and flour.
Put your food on the scale.
So I did.
The weight came off.
And over time, with each healthy bite I took, I watched myself treat myself with love.
Each night, I wrote down what I was going to eat the next day, and each day, I ate only and exactly that.
I had never followed through on my promises to myself with food before.
I had always made promises, and then decided to rewrite the rules later on.
I’ll only have one small bowl of ice cream.
Well, maybe one more.
I’ll join this gym and work out regularly until I’m really fit.
Ugh, I’m too tired to get to the gym today. I’ll go tomorrow.
Over and over I betrayed myself.
Even while I felt like I was trying my best.
Bright Line Eating was a game-changer for me.
It boiled my whole life down to one day.
For this ONE DAY, can you eat what you’ve committed to eating?
You have it written down right there.
That’s your food for today. Can you eat only and precisely that?
Yes, I can.
Just for today.
So I did.
And I do.
And over time, years upon years, this daily act of faithfulness, of loyalty to myself, has changed me.
I watched myself treat myself with love, respect, and care, and as a result, I started to believe that I loved, respected, and cared about myself.
Twelve years later, after observing my treatment of myself day upon day, my entire self-concept has changed.
Today, in my deep, inner core, I feel whole and true.
In fact, I feel glorious.
There is a scar there, for sure. The scar of my old wound.
It’s not gone, but it’s healed over.
It doesn’t gape with redness anymore.
I know and remember that I have believed myself to be flawed and broken.
I love and nurture that wounded-bird version of myself, and am gentle with myself when I still sometimes feel insecure.
I come by it honestly.
But the fear part—the fear that it’s really true—that’s the part that’s healed.
In 1967, Daryl Bem, now Professor Emeritus of Cornell University, proposed something called Self-Perception Theory.
His radical idea was that we learn about ourselves—our attitudes and beliefs—through watching our behavior.
Just like we learn about other people by watching their behavior.
This is counterintuitive.
Usually we assume that our attitudes and beliefs cause our behavior.
Self-Perception Theory says no.
It’s the other way around.
In other words, It’s not “what’s eating me,” it’s what I’m eating.
How I treat myself with food is, for me, a keystone habit.
When I change this one thing, everything changes.
In the past, when I betrayed myself with food on a regular basis, it was hard to conclude that I really loved myself.
I treated myself worse than I would ever treat anyone, even someone I totally disliked. When it came to food, I abused myself, deliberately deceived myself, and flagrantly broke the promises I made to myself.
The only conclusion to draw was that I didn’t value myself, didn’t like myself, and didn’t believe I was worthy of being happy.
I got all this from watching how I treated myself.
Today, because of Bright Line Eating, this is all different.
I love myself.
I know I do, because I show it through my actions.
I know I feel worthy of happiness, because I watch myself take steps to protect my happiness.
I don’t eat sugar or flour.
At meal time, I stop what I’m doing, and prioritize eating a healthy meal.
I’m worth it.
I go the extra mile to write my food down in my little food journal the night before.
Even if I’m getting home late, like last night.
Last night I arrived home past midnight, fresh from delivering a live webinar in my office across town.
I arrived home late, but I didn’t just collapse into bed with my husband, who had kept the light on and was waiting for me.
I took the time to plan out my breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next day, and commit them in the Bright Line Eating online support community. (It only took five minutes). Then I filled out my Nightly Checklist Sheet and wrote in my Five Year Journal. I prayed. I brushed and flossed. I hung my clothes up on hangars.
THEN I crawled into bed.
One of the best things about spreading the message of Bright Line Eating is getting to watch the effect it has on others, in a very short period of time, who experience the power of Self-Perception Theory for themselves.
Just from making a commitment to what they’re going to eat for the day and sticking with it, their whole world changes.
I interact with them day upon day, and watch them bloom.
Yes, they lose weight and start to look and feel great.
But the real beauty is what happens on the inside.
Everything feels different, they tell me.
I like myself.
I trust myself.
I feel in control now.
My whole world has changed.
And I say, I get it.
I really do.
P.S. – For just a few more days, my free 3-video series on the Psychology and Brain Science of Sustainable Weight Loss is available for unlimited viewing. It’s like a college course on how to lose weight and really keep it off. In fact, I teach this stuff in my college course on the Psychology of Eating. But the series will be taken down soon, so don’t delay. Happy viewing!
(Note: Video 3 will be released on Thursday, May 28th.)