The Enemy Within
by Al Coon
You feel the butter dish slip from your hand and as it makes its unstoppable way to the floor you hear a voice saying, "Thatís it - I canít take anymore."
From the recesses of your mind that voice begins to suggest things. It tells you that a person can only take so much and you have passed that point. You deserve to have a few doughnuts (or chips or whatever is your favorite path off program). It is the only thing left for you to do. This voice also tells you that you are far too weak to leave that food alone for another minute. It is beyond your control, so why fight it?
We all have our Inner Voice, and the thing that most of us do not realize is that this Inner Voice is not our friend. Would a friend tell you that you are weak? Would a friend suggest that you go on an eating binge? Would a friend attack you at your weakest moments with temptation, and even commands to fail?
Your greatest battle is in learning how to stand up to your Inner Voice. That voice can be trained, and it can be controlled. But to be successful on your journey, you must be able to identify itís traitorous nature. When you are feeling weak, that Inner Voice is what is screaming at you to give in. You have another voice as well and that one is under your control. You must use it to tell the Inner Voice to SHUT UP!
No, you are not going crazy when you talk to your Inner Voice. It is important that you do so. That Inner Voice is like an unruly child that is apt to fall into mischief if it is not placed under proper supervision and control. When it wants to get into trouble, you must be able to see that it is going wrong, and that it must be stood up to. Force it to change the subject, and you will be surprised how much easier your rough moments can be.
As the butter finally splatters on the floor and the globs of it adhere to your shoes and the bottom of the cabinet underneath the counter that you were carrying the dish to, and, as the dish itself shatters into many different sized pieces, you naturally will release your own personal favorite expletive. Of course you are not happy about this turn of events. But as you set to cleaning up the mess, you will have the opportunity to direct your thoughts towards overcoming the stream of destructive thoughts the Inner Voice is directing your way. You can say, "Man, this makes me mad! I hate it when this happens. But life is going to have its bumps. I will soon have this cleaned up and will have another bar of butter and a new dish all ready to go. The mess will be cleaned up, and all will be as good as new. There is no reason to go and do harmful things to myself. Eating will not undo this event but it will instead create another event, an event that is far worse when I have to weigh in next time. Inner Voice - find something else to talk about, because I am not going to listen to you on this subject right now."
You cannot offend the Inner Voice, no matter how harshly you speak to it. So, off with the kid gloves. It is better to treat it as an unfeeling brute. Its greatest strength is its tenacity. It keeps coming back if you do not stand up to it. If you do tell it to shut up with conviction, and start it going on another subject, you will find your life much easier. Over time, it can be trained to leave you alone on the subject of food. It will never go away completely, but that is okay. If it talks about safe and helpful things, it is not a problem. It can remind you of things you need to do, and other useful tasks. It just has to be "beat into submission" on the important things in your life.
I first learned of the nature of the Inner Voice when I quit smoking. It surprised me to find that this Inner Voice was not my friend. It made it much easier for me to deal with the things that it told me, once I had identified its nature. I had talked myself into having a cigarette so many times because I had listened to the traitorous, and malicious Inner Voice. It had me thinking about how terrible I was suffering this very moment and that I was not strong enough to tolerate a lifetime of this. I might as well go out and have a cigarette right now and avoid this suffering.
Once I had identified what this Inner Voice was doing, I could then stand up to it. I could tell it, "Shut up! I will not smoke right now, and in time, the suffering will all end. I will then no longer even want a cigarette. The suffering that I am now going through is temporary. It will soon pass and I will be that much closer to quitting." Having said that, and believing it, the voice mentally had nothing to grab on to and quieted down. Today, after over two years of not smoking, the voice on very rare occasion makes a half-hearted attempt. "Wouldnít a cigarette go well right now?" But I can just laugh at it as I tell it, "Get lost. There is no way I am going back to that slavery!"
The more often you face up to the Inner Voice and strongly tell it how things are going to be, the stronger you become and the weaker it becomes in its attacks upon you. Also, as you develop good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle, the Inner Voice has far less leverage to work with. In time you can even have it on your side, nagging you to get out there and do your exercise, and to get working on that menu you need to finish up and so forth. But never completely trust it, because it can turn on you at any moment. In reality it is small and weak. The only power it has, is that which you hand over to it. But until you identify it as untrustworthy, and even an enemy at times, you will be at its mercy. It is its ability to hide, letting you think that it is just a part of your thinking process that you can do nothing about, that allows it to do so much damage.
From now on, you will know about this trickster and you will no longer be taken by surprise. You still may fall to its temptations at times, but afterwards you will be able to see what happened and know how the Inner Voice fooled you. Once you have mastered the Inner Voice, you will be in a very much improved position. You will then be able to deal with the nuts and bolts of staying On Program and less with doubts and worries about your weaknesses. Those doubts and weaknesses are either entirely created by, or merely used by, the Inner Voice as weapons against you. After you learn to shut that voice up, all of the crushing blows you have been taking from it, will disappear. It is such a rush of relief and power to know that you are in control finally of what is going on in your head. To finally subjugate that Inner Voice to its proper role of servant instead of master is the primary act of one who is going to succeed. It is like holding all of the aces. No one can top your card. You cannot lose.
YOU ARE GOING ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN!
By Al, My Wonderful, Supportive Husband