#1 – The Voice
Hello, my name is Heidi and I’m the happiest person I know. I make this statement not as a comparison of my happiness versus others, but rather as an affirmation of my own state. The fact that I’m typing these things today is honestly mind blowing to me, in part because I remember only too well when this was definitely not my state.
When you have stood in front of the mirror naked for 35+ years saying verbatim “you are a fat ugly b***h, who would ever love you, you are so horrible even your parents hate you” it’s very hard to ever imagine a time or place when that wouldn’t occur. If you found that bum clenching to read, trust me, it’s bum clenching to write too!
Even at 20, when I’m teaching sometimes up to 15 aerobics classes a week and working as a personal trainer, that voice was still talking. That voice had been part of me for as long as I can remember and in some ways it was a comforting friend, someone I could always rely on to tell me the truth. No sugar coating. No manipulation of the truth, just the cold hard facts. It is as it is, pure and simple.
I’ve been talking with friends recently about how you can have intentions or expectations that a situation will unfold one way, but all of a sudden you find yourself taking a very different journey.Absolutely no part of me ever had the intention of sitting down and writing my story (I mean, come on, who wants to hear what I have to say about anything?) and I most definitely had zero intention of writing about what I saw as my shameful secrets, my vulnerabilities and the things that made me feel that I was unlovable.
And yet, here I am.
I’ve spent a large part of my career helping businesses find the root cause of their challenges, by looking past the visible symptoms. Making the invisible, visible. Once the root is visible you can transform it, but if you focus your attention instead on the symptoms you’re engaging in what I call an expensive game of whack-a-mole. I believe the same applies to us as humans too.
So yesterday whilst being interviewed about my weight loss journey, I was asked what I would suggest should be included in a weight loss programme for women. I responded that in my opinion, all weight challenges have very little to do with food. Food consumption or restriction and the body’s way of responding to food is just a symptom of an underlying perceived safety issue. As is alcohol and drug usage, and in fact, any repeated pattern of behaviour – it’s a safety issue. The action that is taken or the behaviour that is displayed is simply a protection mechanism to find relief – to temporarily stop the voice from talking.
So how on earth does a voice that says “you are a fat ugly b***h, who would ever love you, you are so horrible even your parents hate you” protect me, defend me and make me feel more secure? And then how and why did the consumption of food momentarily stop the voice from talking?
In my early 20’s I spent 3 years studying Psychology. I can tell you lots about the brain, stages of development, frameworks and the grief cycle and I could also tell you how to construct and measure an experiment using statistics….but I don’t remember there ever being a mention of the role that the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) has within the body. Now there’s also a better than fair chance that this was in fact mentioned and I just happened to be not listening at the time. It’s not until recent years that I’ve really begun to understand the role that this system plays in not only the creation of the voice and what it says, but how (in my opinion) it’s what’s continually occurring within this system that holds the key to the resulting behaviour.
At this point I need to state that I have no certified medical training and therefore, I give no medical advice. But there is one topic that I am the unequivocally the subject matter expert of, and that’s me. So I get to talk freely about me and my experiences from my perception. I’m an experiential learner, so you can give me all the books, knowledge, wisdom collected from decades of scientific research and tell me how things are and how to do things based upon these and I’ll probably completely ignore your advice, instructions and suggestions. What I will do however is take what I think is interesting and trial it out on myself to see if it works.
I’d spent the best part of 30 years attempting to distract myself away from hearing the voice say “you are a fat ugly b***h, who would ever love you, you are so horrible even your parents hate you”. I can confirm after 30 years of trying, distraction doesn’t work! It’s bloody exhausting and the end result of all that effort left me fat, sick and emotionally dead.
But I’m nothing if not curious, so when I gave up the attempts to distract myself I went on a different journey. I wanted to know why I was doing what I was doing. Where does the voice come from? Does everyone have a voice? Why does my voice say what it says? Does everyone say iterations of the same thing? Ultimately I was in search of the Holy Grail…how do I stop the voice from talking to me like that?
What I absolutely have learned as part of this journey is that everyone has a voice, whether they are conscious of it or not. And just as there are a myriad of flavours available for our taste buds to experience, there are a myriad of different version of what the voice says. We all have the same sensory systems through which we experience the voice. And we have a choice, to play whack-a-mole or to instead play with the ghost in the machine.
If by sharing my journey as to what, how and why I’d created a voice that talked like that (as bum clenching as it will be to write about at times) and metaphorically hold the hand of someone else, then it’s worth it. If I can help someone else to stand naked in front of the mirror like I do every morning and smile, then it’s worth it.
Just like everybody else on earth I still have 99 problems and challenges to navigate, but that voice isn’t one! What may look to the outside world like a weight loss journey is in fact just the Law of Cause and Effect in motion.
30 October @ 10:00 am - 31 October @ 3:00 pm