“Obesity affects every aspect of people’s lives, from health to relationships.”
– Jane Velez-Mitchell, journalist
“… everyone being in pain and how managing pain is the real challenge…”
Bryson was a tall man, over six feet and forty one years of age. And, he was a large man as well, tipping the scale, at 260 pounds (118 kilos). He had straight, blond hair worn like a soccer player…long to the point where you wondered if it didn’t get in their eyes during the game. But, he was a gentle giant with a soft voice and manner.
Bryson was sent by his physician to get some “psychological help.” Apparently, Bryson had experienced an auto collision five years previous in which he had suffered some neck injuries. He has been treated repeatedly by several specialists. They were all of the opinion they had done all they could do. They had each told him, in different ways, any lingering pain had to be psychological rather than physical. Bryson finally accepted this and called my office.
When I asked Bryson why he had called me instead of other psychologists in the Yellow Pages, he said,
“I read in one of your blogs something you wrote about everyone being in pain and how managing pain is the real challenge of life! And then, I remembered my hockey coach saying, ‘No pain no gain!” They came together in my head somehow, and so I called you!”
“… I was adopted by two wonderful parents…”
“So you have some pain you want to manage?” I asked.
“Yes I do! For the last five years I have had both back and neck pain which my doctors are convinced is not physical. They say my body has healed fine since the accident. But, I still experience stiffness, soreness and fatigue on a regular basis.”
“Tell me about the rest of your life, your family, friends, work, hobbies…that kind of stuff.” I said.
Bryson thought for a moment and then replied,
“I’ve been married for almost 20 years to my wife, Betty Lou. We have one child, our son, Bartholomew, Bart for short, who is eighteen and just finishing his first year of university. I’m a plumber by trade and have my own business. I have several friends and a few close ones. And my hobbies are cooking and golf. And that’s about it!”
“What is the most important thing I need to know about your childhood Bryson that is significant to you?” I asked, wondering where his values and focus were placed.
He paused again, then replied, “Ken, I was adopted by two wonderful parents who raised me with love. They are gone now, but I think of them often and still miss them.”
“I felt like I had to prove myself worthy of being part of the family.”
“Bryson, what was the biggest challenge for you in your family growing up? What was the downside of being adopted by loving parents?” I asked.
“I have never been asked that before, Ken. I guess having two brothers, really step-brothers, I often felt different because I was the only adopted child. I felt like I had to prove myself worthy of being part of the family.” he said.
Then he added, “It wasn’t my parents but rather my brothers who would remind me, usually when they were angry at me, that I wasn’t really part of their family. I felt hurt and continually tried to prove to my family I was good enough.”
“People who lie to themselves about investing are the same as overweight people who blame their genes for their obesity.” Robert Kiyosaki, author
“… I don’t like being judged or controlled by anyone…”
“How do those childhood experiences show themselves in your life today?”
Bryson said, “I’m not sure. I felt so restricted back then…like I would never be free from their scrutiny. And, to this day I’m not really close to my brothers, like I’m certain our parents would want us to be. And, I don’t like being judged or controlled by anyone at any time.”
“It sounds like you have placed a high value on your freedom, Bryson. Is that true?”
“I just know I don’t like being limited by other people! Since my accident, I must have put on 70 pounds and I know why! I don’t want to be restricted in what I eat or what I do! And, when Betty Lou makes some comment about my weight or how much I’m eating or having a sweet dessert…I just get more determined…I just won’t be controlled!” he said with a hint of anger to his voice.
“… would be like giving in to other people’s judgement…”
“So, Bryson, I’m wondering how is that connected to your recovery from your auto collision?”
He was quick to respond, saying,
“I know, down deep my weight is hard on my body and especially my back and my neck. Sometimes, I have a hard time just getting comfortable in a chair. And, I know it because of my size. But, to change my size would be like giving in to other people’s judgement and to being controlled! I just don’t see how I can do that…and, yet I know I need to get my health back! It’s really confusing and frustrating for me.”
“Bryson, are you saying you have been viewing getting more healthy as being controlled by others and their judgements of you?” I asked to clarify the links in his thinking.
“…there is little need to beat yourself up about it, correct?”
“Yeah…I guess so! I never thought of it that way before. But, to take better care of my body has seemed to me like giving in to the judgements of others who seem to be trying to control me! ”
“So, there is a logic and wisdom to what you have been doing, correct? And, it has worked so far because you are here talking about it, correct? And, so there is little need to beat yourself up about it, correct?” I said pulling him in his thinking toward the truth.
“When you say it that way, it does make sense, doesn’t it?” Bryson replied.
“But, what if you could use the same logic to be, both, more free and more healthy? Would that interest you?” I asked him.
“…what if I’m skeptical…is that OK?”
“Are you suggesting, I can’t be pain free, but I could feel more free and have a more healthy body mass simultaneously, Ken?”
“I am, Bryson! No one is pain free because pain’s purpose is to motivate us to learn. And, learning is a lifelong process ensuring our survival. But, you have to be willing to learn instead of resisting which just magnifies the pain. I can show you how to achieve a more healthy body mass and feel in total control of yourself, liberated from the perceptions of others!”
“That would be fantastic! But, what if I’m skeptical…is that OK?” he asked hesitantly.
“Bryson, skepticism is not just healthy, it can accelerate your learning by motivating you to ask the questions you need to enhance your progress.”
“Then, when can we get started, because I want to do it ASAP!”
“How about now?”
“The way to deal with the devil of obesity and diabetes is literally one day at a time.”
– Stephen Furst, actor
“… not lose weight because the law of energy conservation prohibits this…”
Bryson worked diligently. First, he clarified his highest values. Then, second, he linked his health to those values. And third, he learned to free himself from the values of others while honouring his own values. Finally, he was in position to, not lose weight because the law of energy conservation prohibits this, but, transform his mass to a healthier number.
Bryson achieved this with small, simple changes which transformed his lifestyle into a healthier one. He started by walking 20 minutes a day, every day. Then, he replaced pizza with a slice of toast. Then, he replaced soda pop with water. Then, he replaced potato chips with dipped vegetables. He kept doing this carefully and diligently over the next several months.
He soon started feeling better, feeling more flexible, feeling less pain than before. He found his transformed life style didn’t make him pain free, it made him a skilled pain manager, giving him the freedom he desired to get on with his life.
“I am not a member of Fat Liberation, nor do I think that obesity is healthy. But I do believe that in many ways my life has been a more charmed and happy one because I was always large.” – Maeve Binchy, author
Until Next time…
So, now you know, to be OK you need to live according to your own values. And, whatever you have done, or not done, so far to survive has worked and so you can stop beating yourself up about it. You also know you can’t lose weight, you can only transform it with a different, more healthy, lifestyle. Now, you’re ready to focus on taking control of your future by creating a lifestyle that respects your values, not someone else’s!
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Our next seminar is entitled, “How to Bring balance to Life and Purpose to Work!” It will be on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016. Details are available at ww.kenpiercepsychologist.com
Send us your feedback and topic suggestions…we love to hear from you! If you have a specific question or wish to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact me.
Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
Further information: www.kenpiercepsychologist.com