When I'm thinner I will...
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Harriet Frew
1st February, 20160 Comments
A part of you might seriously yearn to become a healthier weight for your frame, but frustratingly you find yourself never achieving this goal sustainably. Instead, you keep going round the well-worn loop that brings you swiftly back to square one again. This pattern can be relevant if you are making changes to address being under-weight or overweight.
One factor that could be influencing this exasperating loop is an unconscious conflict about your body size.
You may have extremely contrasting perceptions of your thinner self compared to your heavier self. You might not even be aware of these consciously. They could also be very inaccurate and halting your progress.
My thinner self
In your mind, you are light and carefree. You are effortlessly attractive and people are drawn to you. You are organised and in control, managing the ups and downs of life with ease. You have energy to fire on cylinders all day and can simultaneously juggle a whole host of tasks. You wear colour and fitted clothes, as you stride forward with purpose and confidence. You are near perfect.
My heavier self
You are predictable in your actions and lethargic in your movements. You don’t go out as much and often feel less sociable. You are the dependable one that looks after others and is reliable. Life feels more chaotic and a struggle, and you feel overwhelmed with daily tasks. Black is your safe colour and you wear larger clothes to hide. You blend into the background and go unnoticed.
(The thinner and heavier self perception might vary significantly from person to person).
There is no denying that becoming a healthier weight for your frame, will likely make you feel better physically and hopefully emotionally too. This might well create positive ripple effects which will disperse through your life. However, life continues to throw up similar problems and daily challenges whatever your shape and size. It is unusual that weight loss or gain brings a complete personality change (perhaps the exception being extreme weight loss in anorexia nervosa, and this is not for the better).
Much of your perception of yourself at different sizes will be down to the way you think. Thoughts are not always wholly truthful, even if they feel true. The good news is that thoughts can be challenged and changed to allow more productive and realistic ways of thinking.
Questions to explore this further
- What expectations do you have for yourself at a thinner or heavier size? Are these expectations unrealistic or possibly overwhelming? At least, if you stay the same as you are now, you might have a justified reason for not being the person you would like to become. How could you incorporate parts of your thinner or heavier self into the person you are today, rather than putting this on hold until you achieve a happier size?
- What do you gain from staying at the size you are now? Does it keep you safe and protected? If so how? What fears come up for you when you think about change? Is there anyone around you who might be invested in you staying as you are?
You can still desire to become a healthier weight for your size. Be aware that your thinking might well be unconsciously creating a barrier for change though, with you inadvertently putting your life on hold until you reach a specific size.
If you can work on your mindset about body size, you can start to make realistic and sustainable changes, rather than returning to your safe point again. It could be the time to seek out support through counselling to help you do this.
About the author
Harriet Frew is a counsellor, blogger, writer and enthusiast in supporting people with eating disorders. She has worked in the NHS; private practice and in the voluntary sector; working in the field since 1999. Harriet now works privately in Cambridge and London.
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