The Soup Saboteur

In group we have been working on our inner dialogues surrounding food.  These conversations go on in our minds constantly, usually without us even being aware of them.  For the purpose of this exercise, our therapist has named these the “Inner Child,” “Inner Parent,” and the “Saboteur.”  Previously we’ve used “Ego,” and some other names, but these names have been particularly helpful to me this week.

I try to be mindful of the way I talk to my son.  When he’s upset, I try to validate the feeling and gently nudge him into talking it through to the other side.  It’s not usually like that when I talk to myself.  I actually spend a lot of time telling myself that my feelings are stupid.  Picturing a child inside me with real feelings is so helpful because I can then acknowledge her and be her advocate against all that self-doubt and self-hate.

This week we were challenged to write down one of these inner dialogues.  I’m going to share mine with you because although I initially found the whole thing kind of silly, I felt it had so much value when it was done.  It started off this morning when I had the idea that I might like some soup for breakfast.  Saboteur is “S” and Inner Parent is “P.” Here’s how it went:

S: No one eats soup for breakfast.  That’s stupid.
IP: There are no rules about what I can eat and when.  I can have soup if that’s what I want.
S:  I guess, but that’s weird.
IP: It’s not weird, it’s actually kind of fun! Plus there is no one here to see you eating soup for breakfast.
S:  Well it’s too much of a pain in the butt to make anyway.  You don’t have time.
IP:  But everything is ready to go, I just have to throw some stuff in a pot.
S: No really, it’s too much work.  You should just have some toast with jelly.
IP:  It’s just a little bit of work, which is worth it if it means I get exactly what I want.  Plus if I make a soup with all good ingredients, I can have a breakfast that makes me feel really satisfied instead of something that won’t be nourishing and give me energy for the day.
S: Well, if you’re sure that soup is really what you want, but I’m not convinced that you’re sure.
IP: Well, the thought of soup must have come from somewhere.  Maybe it was the inner child and we should take the chance and find out.  C’mon, it’s just one breakfast.  It will be okay.
S: Ok fine.

I made the soup.  It was delicious, but what was most exciting about this exercise was the thought that the idea of soup came from the inner child.  And how weird is it that there is part of me that cannot trust that I know what I want to eat for breakfast?    I see that this is a really misguided attempt at self-protection.  There is a fear that acquiescing to my own desires and/or feelings will negatively affect others and I’ll pay in shame.  I picked up that message somewhere along the way, but I now have the awareness that allows me to begin to change it.

This little exercise really showed me how the aspects of me might work in harmony.  It’s a very peaceful feeling.  I think I’ll have soup for lunch, too.

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