C’mon honey, be honest now….what do you get out of staying overweight?
If you said, “You’ve got to be kiddin’ me… I don’t get anything out of it!!!”
…… listen up.
If you struggle with your weight, you are getting something out of it.
How secondary gain works its mischief
Everything we do, we do, because we get ‘something’ out of it.
In psychological circles it’s known as secondary gain, and it’s the social, physical or financial benefits that arise from illness, mishap or injury.
They’re the ‘hidden’ reasons for holding onto an undesirable condition.
For example, if you’re unwell you might get more sympathy and attention from your partner or mates, and you get to avoid work.
Secondary gain is very, very common.
We all do it.
Welcome to being human…there’s about 7 billion of us.
So with that in mind, let me repeat the question.
What do you get out of being overweight?
Do you get to avoid your gym session? Do you get to have that comforting chocolate bar? Do you get sympathy from friends?
Usually, secondary gain is deeply unconscious. Like an iceberg that is mostly submerged, you need to bring your secondary gain out from under the water line of your mind. Only then will it disappear.
What does it look like?
A client who’d struggled with her weight since her teenage years was baffled as to why she continually sabotaged herself with post-gym food binges. She shared with me that she’d been attacked while out running as a teenager. When the incident happened she’d been very slim, and she’d created a belief in her head that ‘slimness equalled unsafe.’
Every time she started to shed weight (which she consciously wanted very much), her unconscious belief would override, and she’d sabotage herself.
Once we’d cleared the trauma of the attack and the notion that she was unsafe as a slim person, she found that she no longer sabotaged.
Clearly, this is an individual case.
But it highlights how our minds are very clever at keeping us overweight – often in the name of protection – from a larger perceived threat.
Questions to help you find your secondary gain
Take a moment to reflect on these questions. If you’re really serious about losing weight, journal the answers, and allow them to begin to shift your thinking. Be curious.
- What are the positives for you, if you easily reached your happy weight?
- What is the downside of your reaching your happy weight?
- How would being your happy weight impact other areas of your life?
- What would it mean to you to not be the overweight person in a group?
- What negative thoughts do you have about people who are their happy weight?
- What would you have to not tolerate anymore in order to get to your ideal body?
- What or who would you need to face or let go of?
- Is there anything you fear about becoming your happy weight?
- Are those fears realistic?
- Is it worth staying overweight to avoid facing those fears?
- What would you gain from the experience of overcoming the weight loss?
- What learnings would you develop on this journey?
- What new possibilities open up for you once you are your happy weight?
Begin to let it go.
How’d you go with the answers?
You might notice the first couple of questions are intentionally designed to uncover the submerged fears. Chances are a lot of stuff will come to the surface. It’s time, sweetheart. Answering the later questions will help you begin to overcome the fears.
Remember darling, you – as member of the human club – have the inner resources to overcome the secondary gain that’s kept you stuck up until now.
Answer the questions with honesty and curiosity, be gentle but firm and see yourself at your happy weight. You can do it.
Now, off you pop, go and answer the questions…
Love etc, Avril
PS: If you need help letting go of secondary gain or self sabotage, that’s exactly what I can help you with, easily and effortlessly. Drop me a line – firstname.lastname@example.org