This week, I had a session with my client, Jane, who last week returned home from a vacation. Before she left on vacation, Jane was feeling very good about her eating, and while she was on vacation, she felt she did really well (and, in fact, didn’t gain any weight). However, in the six days between her return and our session, Jane hasn’t been feeling on track. Jane and I discussed what has been going on since she got back, and Jane told me that once she arrived home, lots of things seemed to hit her all at once – she had a big work project to get done, her elderly mother was having problems with her nursing home, and there was a leak in Jane’s bathroom. Jane said all of these things combined made her feel like she just couldn’t deal with anything else, and that being on track with her eating felt too difficult.
Jane was clearly having many thoughts typical of someone who is off-track, such as, “I can’t do this,” “This is too hard,” and “I can’t handle it.” I discussed with Jane that these thoughts were not a true reflection of reality; this was her off-track mentality talking. Even though she was thinking it was too hard, it didn’t mean it actually was too hard. I pointed out to Jane (who is herself a therapist) that this is similar to someone who is experiencing depression. We often say that depression lies. Depression tries to convince someone that she has always been depressed, that she’ll always be depressed, that she’s weak and that she’s not worth anything. But that, too, is not a true reflection of reality. That’s the depression talking.
Jane felt enlivened by the idea that her thinking about not being able to handle her eating was not necessarily accurate and was just her off-track mentality lying to her. When she was able to take a step back from these thoughts and really evaluate them, Jane, too, was able to see that they weren’t true. She was able to remember other times when her life felt really stressful but she maintained control. She was also able to remember that, when she’s on track, on a day-to-day basis it really doesn’t feel overly hard because she has positive momentum built up. Jane and I discussed that while it is true that getting back on track can be hard, it’s not true that staying on track is too hard to manage. By the time she left session, Jane told me that she felt much stronger and willing to do what she needed to do to get back on track. She knew she could do it, and she knew that once she did, it would feel so much easier again.