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Battling My Brat

Every New Year’s Eve, for most of my life, I had made the same New Year’s Resolution: to go on a diet and lose weight. And every year, I woke up on January 1st (usually hung over) but very enthusiastic and excited about my plan. The problem was I never made it past the third week of January before I cheated on my diet and gave up.
Now, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to get thin. I wanted to be thin more than anything in the world. Although, for some reason, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stay on a diet. It seemed impossible. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had a huge obstacle blocking me on my weight loss path. Her name was Lucy.
Who is Lucy? She was then and still is my “brat.” Until I got her under my control, she was a major force in my life. She would have me readily blowing off workouts, oversleeping, hating my promises, manipulating men, blowing my money and missing my writing deadlines. Lucy had been an instigator of or the main contributor to every major catastrophe in my life. She had also kept me fat for more than 25 years.
I first became aware of Lucy when I started working with my Handel Group® Coach in August 2007. I was still 75 pounds overweight and trying to diet. After one of my sessions, my coach gave me a homework assignment, to keep a thought log. The thought log made me pay attention to the thoughts flying around in my head and write them down. Almost immediately, I heard Lucy. She was loud, annoying, bossy and manipulative. All she wanted to do was eat junk food, watch HBO and complain about everything that wasn’t working in my life. She would go on tangents about how I was never going to be thin, it was hopeless and I should just eat the pizza. No wonder I didn’t stay on a diet. I had a terrorist in my head, brainwashing me 24/7.
After I realized I had Lucy in my head, I knew that if I kept listening to her, I was never going to lose weight. My coach told me the best way to take her down and silence the voice of my brat, was with promises and consequences. I made several food promises and implemented consequences if I broke any of my promises. Because Lucy was used to convincing me to blow off commitments, she did not like my new promises and she let me know it by yelling at me daily about how she needed birthday cake with pink icing or she was going to die. I started to ignore her. The more I ignored Lucy and kept my promises, the quieter she became. Then one day, she just gave up on trying to get me to cheat on my diet. She knew it was a lost cause. I had stopped listening to her. Eight months later, I reached my goal weight.
It’s been almost four years since I dropped that weight and Lucy has not reappeared in the area of food and body. I still eat healthy and never cheat on my diet. I don’t even consider it. I won’t allow the thoughts in my head. Even though she stopped sabotaging me about my body, I must confess that sometimes Lucy appears in other areas of my life. Lately, she has been rambling about men. My friends even call me Lucy when they hear her words come out of my mouth. The truth is, I know that I can quiet Lucy. I did it with food. I lost a total of 130 pounds and learned how to manage my mind in the process. Now it’s time to manage my mind in other areas of my life.
So, this year on January 1st, I made the New Year’s Resolution to “leash” Lucy everywhere and for good. I’m taking down my brat. I’m tired of listening to her rant about how there are no single men in New York and I’m never going to fall in love. Wait, I just realized something. Maybe she is the reason I don’t have a boyfriend. Huh.
Here is a summary about the brat, so you can recognize your own:
* The brat is the voice in your head that is an annoyed, entitled child. It’s the adult version of a 4-year-old throwing a temper tantrum.
* The brat is always running a scam, manipulating situations to get what it wants.
* The brat is not fighting for your happiness. It’s fighting for the Tiramisu.
Finally, here are the basic steps I followed in taking down my brat around food. Though it’s straightforward, this process is not easy. I’d have never succeeded without the help of my coach, which is what I recommend for you, too.
Four Steps to Leashing Your Brat
1) Listen to your inner dialogue. Pay attention to your thoughts and find where you are a brat in your life. What does it say to you that sounds so convincing? How does the brat manipulate you? How is the brat stopping you from achieving your dreams? (Hint: The brat will say things to make you quit pursuing your goals, cop out on plans and not keep your word, especially to yourself. Where there are abandoned dreams, there are always the ramblings of the brat.)
2) Make promises to stop the thinking and the behavior. Make specific promises to stop your brat. Make sure your promises are well defined about actions you have to take and thoughts you cannot allow. Beware: Brats love loopholes! (My brat, Lucy, is an expert at finding loopholes; she should have been an attorney.) A good example is a promise that specifies the intensity of a workout, for how long and how frequently you must do it. Then add a promise about not being allowed to negotiate your promises once they’re set. Again, a coach can really help you design custom promises for you!
3) Implement consequences for breaking promises. Design and implement strong consequences that will make you want to avoid breaking your promises. Make the consequence good enough so you keep your promise. Consequences are not to punish you, but to make you feel the immediate effects of breaking your commitments. Start with something you’d hate to give up: TV time, wine, money, etc.
4) Be accountable to someone. Tell everyone about your brat and how it’s sabotaging your life. Everyone in my life knows about Lucy and my friends nail me whenever she enters the building. Next, it’s important to work with a coach or a reliable friend to help you be accountable to your promise. It will make the process easier.
Katie Torpey
P.S.- Leash your brat in one weekend, at the Design Your Life Weekend workshop. It covers the four steps mentioned here and so much more, packing a year of coaching into two intense days.