What’s the Point?

You’re having a conversation with a close friend. There’s something exciting going on in your life and you’re dying to fill them in. As you talk, you’re brimming with energy and enthusiasm about your venture. When you finish, rather than sharing in your excitement your friend says flatly:

“What’s the point?”

Slightly stunned, you ask them to explain what they mean.

“Well”, they say, “it’s just that you’ll never do it. You’ll never achieve that. You might as well give up”.

How do you feel?

Like the wind has been knocked out of your sails.

And so it goes with making peace with food. While this may not be an actual conversation you have with a friend (I really hope not), it’s often a dialogue that takes place within you.

You can be making real progress finding autonomy with food when bam! a voice says “What’s the point? You’ll never succeed”. Suddenly, the rug has been pulled from under you and you feel utterly hopeless.

It’s why you can feel enthused about your process one minute and despondent the next.

That voice, which we’ll call the Hopeless Side, isn’t the same as your Inner Bully. The Inner Bully wants you to feel ashamed, depressed and generally rubbish about yourself. The Hopeless Side has a very different motivation.

It’s trying to protect you.

The Hopeless Side knows your history of dieting and attempting to lose weight. It knows how hard you had to focus on your eating. It understands the sacrifices you made.

Most importantly, it remembers your overwhelming disappointment when the diet failed and you regained the weight you lost. It recalls the emotional pain you suffered as a result – the frustration, the despair, the sense of failure. So it wants to protect you.

It wants to protect you from feelings it believes you can’t handle.

The problem is, it doesn’t differentiate between dieting and recovering from emotion-driven overeating. It just thinks anything eating-related is a no-go area and it needs to step in to protect you. So it says “What’s the point? You’ll never do this. Your eating will always be out of control. Just give up”. In its mind, it’s saving you from the pain of trying and failing yet again.

So it keeps you stuck because – for the Hopeless Side – being stuck is better than moving forward and risking disappointment.

If you want to get unstuck, it’s important to address it and deal with it.

Here are some suggestions of what you might say to the Hopeless Side when it’s asking “what’s the point?” and telling you to give up.

“This is different”
Finding autonomy in your eating isn’t the same as a diet. Instead of working against yourself by attempting to stick to someone else’s idea of what or how to eat, you’re working with yourself. You’re giving yourself full permission to eat and listening to your body’s cues about hunger, preference and satisfaction. You’re also exploring ways to meet your emotional needs that don’t involve food. Therefore, the Hopeless Side can’t hold your dieting history against you – this is making peace with food and you’ve never been here before.

“I can handle disappointment”
People whose eating is emotion-driven usually learn to detach from feelings early on in life. They also often have a hard time trusting they’ll get what they want. Sometimes, this is as a result of being promised things as a child that were never delivered. The Hopeless Side doesn’t understand you’re an adult now and can learn to handle challenging feelings. And, actually, it’s essential that you do. If you’re disappointed, it’s OK to acknowledge it – there’s no better way to build emotional resilience.

“Thank you, but I’ve got this”
The Hopeless Side needs to understand you know what you’re doing. Articulate your approach to eating and why it’s what you want. List your character strengths and achievements. Remind it how far you’ve come in your process already and you don’t need any help because you’re in charge of your life. Then it’s a polite but firm “thanks, but no thanks”.

As much as the Hopeless Side thinks it’s helping by protecting you from difficult feelings, it’s not. It’s standing in the way of you and the life you want and deserve.

Because life is to be lived. Really lived.

It’s to be lived free from obsessing about food every waking moment. It’s to be lived in gratitude for the body you have and all it does for you. It’s to be lived wholeheartedly, courageously and authentically. Not hopelessly.

That’s the point.

©️ Julie de Rohan 2019.

30 thoughts on “What’s the Point?

  1. What an interesting post, Julie. I had a bit of a lightbulb moment when you described the hopeless feeling as a protection barrier rather than a defeatist strategy. There’s an important distinction but either way, these feelings hold us back. Really thought-provoking – thanks so much, Lxx

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    1. Yes, it can be an attempt to protect you from any number of feelings (I’m just highlighting disappointment in particular in this post). I’m so pleased you had a lighbulb moment – I love a lightbulb moment myself! Great to hear from you Lol, I hope you’re keeping well.

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  2. This is helpful advice Julie, thank you! Hope is so powerful, and I appreciate your confidence too, that we’re adults who can handle challenging emotions … it’s hard to remember that sometimes 🙂

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    1. I’ve made it sound so easy to handle challenging feelings, haven’t I? For many of us it’s not though – but the more we learn just to be with our emotions and to allow them, the easier it can get. I’m so glad this was useful to you, Karen, it’s really good to hear your thoughts.

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      1. You’re right, I shouldn’t worry about ‘handling’ them, just being with them – i.e., not avoiding/burying/denying them! – is enough. Thanks 🙂

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  3. I’ve never seen a name put to this, but Hopeless Side really says it all. I imagine this defense mechanism gets in the way of really living, related to other areas besides eating patterns, as well…

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    1. Absolutely – it relates to any other area where we’re struggling to achieve something. And, of course, the feelings it’s attempting to protect us from will be different according to the situation, it’s not just about protecting from disappointment – it can be a defence against shame, failure and many other feelings. Great to hear from you, Becky, many thanks for your comment.

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  4. I loved how you stated it “like the wind has been knocked out of your sails.” Yes exactly the feeling!
    It was good to read and know the difference between the “Hopeless Side” and the “Inner Bully”, if I get it right, the brain wants to protect me but also fail to distinguish between the foods that harm me or the disappointment that might harm me? And here I need to trick it and change my behavior and mentality and have reconciliation with food and improve despite my previous bad experiences…
    Hope I get it 🙂 and yes we deserve to truly live our life happily, wholeheartedly and not hopelessly! Loved the inspiration and motivation you always spread an hope your weekend was great 😊 I believe the eatonomy group is in UK ?

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    1. People with overeating issues often have a side of their personality that tells them to give up and makes them feel hopeless – this is in response to the damage that dieting has done and the sense of failure it brings. When they attempt to normalise their relationship with food, this side can step in and attempt to protect them from feelings of disappointment. The idea is just to have a calm and peaceful relationship with food, without labelling it “good” or “bad”, or “healthy” or “unhealthy” – that way they can stop the restricting/bingeing cycle that is so awful. It’s about developing the awareness of these different sides of the personality and how they impact on eating. Of course, the Hopeless Side doesn’t just relate to overeating issues but that’s what I do! I hope that makes sense?

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Huguette, and – yes – the eatonomy group is in the UK (I’m interested to know why you asked!) Hope you’re having a good week.

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      1. Thank you Julie for your reply 🙂 I always annoy you with my questions haha you should start charging me 😂
        Yes it’s very clear and noted also that not only for overeating issues, I always forget that this is your specialty 🙂 I remember your about page that you struggled with this problem and you wanted to help others, which is great!
        I just thought it’s nice being a part of such community and learn things 🙂 even though I don’t have this problem but had it at some specific times but I love everything related to psychology and human behavior 🙂 and you seem so kind also haha it’s important to me
        it’s a pleasure always and have a great week as well 🙂

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      2. You never annoy me, Huguette! I’m always flattered that you take such an interest in what I write – it’s gratifying that you take the time to ask such interesting and thoughtful questions. You could always start your own eatonomy self-development group in Lebanon! Great to hear from you as ever, look after yourself.

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      3. Thank you so much for the kind words 😊
        Will check the eatonomy group thing, even though I don’t know how to do that 🙂
        Appreciate your time and kind words 😊 have a great day

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  5. Thank you for sharing a wonderful post!.. I usually take in the consideration the source when someone criticizes… “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realize how seldom they do”.. Eleanor Roosevelt, and follow my heart… 🙂

    “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary” Steve Jobs

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