Many women, at one point or another, go see a counselor or psychologist to deal with issues they may be having in their professional or personal life. It is not uncommon to see individuals who are functioning relatively well in society seeking psychological counseling as a means to simply improve their quality of life. Regardless of what most people claim, almost everyone has at least one issue in their life that they could stand to resolve.
Have you ever thought about going to counseling as a means to create a more effective diet program? Rarely is this even considered. When people think of counselling they tend to think of more destructive personality disorders such as depression, severe anxiety, obsessive compulsive tendencies and so on. It's important to realize however that it is practical to seek outside help for smaller scale issues, weight loss being one of them.
The counseling process you undergo when seeing someone is going to vary considerable depending on which theoretical perspective your particular counselor is practicing. Some practice behavioural approaches, others use cognitive theories and still others turn to classic Freud as a way of address the problems you are dealing with.
Freud is one of the most well known theorists in the world of psychology and his research has been referred to millions of times by professors as well as practitioners of this field.
The approach that Freud is responsible for is the psychoanalytic theory, which is one that is firmly routed in childhood experiences. By applying his work to your own particular instance, you may be able to find out why your past diets have failed and what you need to do to finally get yourself sticking with a diet and fitness program.
Freud believe that human behaviour was basically deterministic, that is, it is determined by irrational forces, unconscious motivations and biological instinctual drives that evolve during key psychosexual stages in the first six years of life.
When certain occurrences happen during these primary years, your experiences may be deeply rooted in your unconscious and come out in various forms later in life, causing issues with your functioning ability.
Freud also contends that anxiety begins to occur when we experience tension that then motivates us to do something. This tension will develop because of a conflict with your id, ego and superego, the three major components of personality and if you are not able to deal with this anxiety effectively, you'll turn to defence mechanisms.
So for you, the woman who is looking for why past diets have failed, the first step is to look at your early childhood history and then take note of your current behaviours and any defence mechanisms you may be using.
When looking at prior history, you should try and focus in on your experiences as a child. If you were overweight back then, what reactions did you get from others? And are these reactions now causing you to think a certain way about yourself today?
For example, someone who was ridiculed while in elementary school may have come to view herself as an 'overweight slob' who is less able in all areas of life.
Granted this is taking things to the extreme, however if any connections such as this were made, they now might be coming out in your beliefs that today you are not as competent as an adult, particularly if you are still overweight. Or maybe, you are using being overweight as your way of dealing with fears that you may not be realizing your true potential at work or in a relationship.
Thus by not losing the weight, you are in fact, protecting your inner ego about a deeper belief in your abilities as a person. So while you thought it was simply a case of you not being able to stick with a diet it really is a case of your unconscious trying to protect you from the real pain that might come about if you are forced to face the fact you are not performing as well as you'd like in other areas of your life.
You may also want to look into instances of using food for comfort as a kid. Very often we are rewarded with food as children for being good and thus make the connection that food makes us feel better about ourselves.
Then now as adults, when we are feeling upset over anything going on in our lives, we turn to food for comfort. This is not a new notion as many people probably realize they eat for comfort, however making the connection of how this may be routed in childhood can help you overcome this problem.
After you've assessed your past history of events in early years and how they may be affecting you today, you are then ready to look into ways you could be dealing with the anxiety that are not productive. Here are some examples.
Repression occurs when any thought, feeling or action that is threatening us gets pushed out of awareness. The most common of these will be events in our early childhood once again, however it could be an adult occurrence as well.
Denial is probably one of the more common defence mechanisms among those who are overweight or who are having trouble sticking with their fitness plan. What occurs in denial is that the person is distorting the way they are thinking, feeling or acting a particular situation. Basically, you are closing your eyes to reality. If you currently know deep down that you are overweight but are not facing this fact and just going on as if you are happy with how you look and feel, you are using denial to shield your ego.
Displacement is going to be one of the more detrimental mechanisms as it could begin to hurt those around you. What occurs in displacement is that rather than just being upset with yourself, you begin taking this frustration out on other people.
So, rather than feeling angry about your skipping your morning workout, you begin yelling at your husband over something relatively harmless. He is not the one who is bothering you, deep down it's yourself that's bothering you however the anxiety you would get from this realization is too much to handle.
Rationalization is another very, very common practice amongst the individual who isn't following their plan. In this scenario, they start rationalizing their reasoning to outside sources. For example, 'It was raining outside this morning so I couldn't go for my run,' or 'work was so busy that I don't have time to cook a healthy meal, therefore tonight I'm justified in eating fast food.' Both are statements that could be worked around if you really truly tried to find an alternate solution.
Last, the final way in which some people choose to deal with their shortcomings is compensation. With compensation they simply try to make up for their lack of results in health and fitness in other areas of their life. So rather than putting in more hours at the gym to improve their body, they simply put in more hours at work to improve their career. In this case it's a matter of learning where your priorities lie and seeing if you can compromise to achieve a more diverse lifestyle.
Brining It To A Conscious Level
So with the psychoanalytic viewpoint, once you are able to make these connections between your past and your ways of coping, often that will be enough to overcome them; you can now recognize the cause of your actions. By simply bringing this to your conscious level (out of the unconscious) you are now able to realize that you are in control of your actions and you can take control over your life.
This means not letting previous childhood or early adult experiences that had to do with your weight or eating behaviours influence how you now deal with these subjects today. Overtime, as one works toward developing new goals and productive solutions to dealing with set-backs, the new behaviour mechanisms will be more conducive to achieving your goals.
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Author, Shannon Clark.
For some however, simply 'knowing' is not enough and they need help finding a way to actually change their behavior. For this reason, the need to turn to other viewpoints is necessary. In the next part of this article, we'll examine another viewpoint that is more focused on changing your current behaviours.