It was one of those books I’d pick up and put down, pick up and put down.
Truthfully, I don’t think I was ready for it.
I never really actually did the exercises but rather skimmed through them, not really absorbing everything I could.
But now that I’ve finally gone back, re-read some of it and finished the book, I’ve come to appreciate it on a whole new level, especially in light of giving intuitive eating another shot.
One of the things that caught my attention most was the notion of changing my thinking from that of a “Wild Child” or “Dictator” to that of a compassionate “Watcher.”
If you haven’t read the book, you’re probably wondering, ok, what the heck is she talking about?!
Basically (and I’m wayyyy simplifying several chapters here into one succinct blog entry) the “Wild Child” is the self that feels deprived when on a diet and binge eats or emotionally eats. It’s human; our bodies are designed to fight hunger/starvation.
The “Dictator” is the self that, once one gains weight, freaks out and goes into ultra-restrictive mode: over-exercising, restricting calories … i.e., disordered eating. Anxiety floods you and as Beck notes, “…it’s not surprising that the instant the Dictator is weakened by stress, hunger or environmental chaos, the Wild Child leaps into action and eats like a junkyard dog.”
But the “Watcher” … that is the self we seek: a compassionate part of the brain that isn’t the Dictator or Wild Child, but rather a third realm of consciousness.
To attain this “Watcher” self, Beck recommends offering both the “Wild Child” and “Dictator” kindness–some mantra of well-being or loving-kindness. Like, “My body is my temple,” or “May you be happy and healthy,” or anything you can think of, really, that makes you feel good.
As Beck notes: “While both the Dictator and Wild Child make you want to overeat, your Watcher self isn’t nearly as compulsive. It doesn’t feel either rigidly controlled or totally out of control. In fact, according to some medical psychologists, it’s physiologically impossible for your mind to stay locked in a war of control when you’re engaging its ability to generate compassion and appreciation. It is a place of great inner peace.”
So what does this mean for you, or me?
I think to achieve our “Watcher” selves, we really do need to love ourselves and offer ourselves the same compassion we’d offer someone we care about.
I realize this isn’t easy. And I know it’s something I struggle with all the time. (You read my blog, you know!)
But yesterday, I was thrust into a couple situations where I had to just go with the flow and surprisingly, keeping the “Watcher” self in mind, I was able to just roll with it.
For example, I had an impromptu lunch date with my boss and a client. Several years ago, an unplanned lunch would have freaked me (“Dictator”) out. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s the truth. But today, I didn’t even flinch when she asked me if I was free at lunch.
Likewise, my husband had class last night and I was alone and feeling a bit lonely. Instead of turning to food for comfort (“Wild Child”), I spoke with my sister and parents on the phone, and then hit the gym for some kick-ass cardio.
Being in “Watcher” mode yesterday for me meant not restricting at an unplanned meal out, nor emotional eating out of stress/anxiety.
And while it worked yesterday, I know it’s not something that just miraculously works like a charm — rather it’s something we need to chip away at until it becomes second nature. Given the title of the book, I’m think four days will do it … and I’m stoked to give it a shot. I think this 4-Day Win will be the most relevant for me of all the 4-Day Wins in her book.
I think it’s natural that anyone struggling with disordered eating issues or battling their weight might find themselves in either the “Dictator” or “Wild Child” role fairly frequently; it’s all we know, all we’re exposed to.
It’s a tough cycle to break, but I believe Beck that, in time, it can be done. It jut requires changing our thinking and our behaviors.
I know the times when I can remain calm and view myself through the “Watcher” lens versus the times I fall into the “Dictator” or “Wild Child,” I feel strong, proud, confident.
And really, isn’t that what it’s all about? Getting to that place where these things are just effortless and natural? One day down … three to go!
Which “self” do you identify most with? Wild Child, Dictator, or Watcher? Have you read The 4-Day Win?