We all have voices in our heads. Freud called them the Id, the Ego and the Super-ego. Clinical psychologists refer to the negative voice of an eating disorder as “Ed” and help anorexic patients learn to recognize Ed and determine that Ed is not their friend. Martha Beck in her book The Four Day Win, refers to three head voices and calls them the Wild Child, the Dictator and the Watcher.
The Dictator loves you and wants you to be your very best self. Give her a face and voice—she’s probably wearing a suit, carrying a briefcase and she has hair tightly pulled back into a bun. She knows all sorts of facts, figures and calculations, but she’s mostly concerned about your figure. She’s a master at calorie counting and she knows exactly how many miles you need to run to burn off a doughnut blow-out.
The Wild Child also loves you and because she loves you, she wants you to well-fed and happy. She can’t deny you anything and she hates to see you hungry. She needs to feed you emotionally as well as physically and she believes that any pain can be soothed with sweets. Recognize her, give her a voice and a face. She may look like a hippie, but chances are she looks like your favorite Aunt Martha—the one who slept with a full candy dish beside her bed.
The Dictator and the Wild Child are at war. They are not friends, although they both love you and have only your best interests at heart. Imagine them beside you, each trying to sway you to their unique points of view. Listen to their voices and learn to recognize them for who they are and the desires they’re trying to fulfill. And as you watch them, you realize that THEY ARE NOT YOU.
The real you, the you that Dennis Deaton in his excellent book, The Book on Mind Management, called the thinker of thoughts, or in Freudian terms—the super-ego—or the you Martha Beck called The Watcher. When you come to recognize who you really are, you can understand that you are not dominated by the Dictator nor are you manipulated by the Wild Child. You are you, the thinker of your thoughts, the watcher of your actions, and ultimately responsible for all of your decisions.
This is scary…And freeing…And scary.
And so I challenge you to listen to your thoughts. Learn to recognize the voices in your head. Take the time to listen to the real you. When you learn to love and respect her, your years of yo-yo dieting will end.