How to Defeat the “Why Bother” Mentality
Play • 28 min

In our journey toward mindful eating, we usually encounter a form of self-sabotage that says, “Why bother?” This little voice urges us to eat even if we’re not hungry or even if we know it’s too much food or it’s harmful to our body. The voice might also say that the situation’s hopeless or the mountain is too high for us to climb.

So how can we navigate this part of us that convinces us to stop caring?

In this episode, I show you a simple but powerful trick to calm down that “why bother?” voice in your head. I teach you how to take a bird’s eye view of the situation. Whatever intense sensation or emotion you’re feeling right now is not permanent. You don't need to give in to the compulsions of the momentary urge. All you need to do is wait. I also talk about how you can examine these thoughts more closely.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode: 
  1. Learn to recognize that “why bother?” part of you. 
  2. Understand that all emotions, thoughts, and sensations are temporary.
  3. Discover how being honest with yourself will help your mindful eating journey.
Episode Highlights How We Self-Sabotage

Ideally, most people want a healthy, natural, and forgiving relationship with food. In this perfect relationship, you can have room for fun food items yet maintain a balance. You pay close attention to what and how much you eat. You also don’t allow yourself to get completely famished.

But even if you have healthy, mindful eating as the goal, it’s common to fall into the trap of the mind, that “Why bother?” voice. This voice can make a wide range of excuses: 

  • You’re going to gain back whatever weight you lose anyway. Feeling the disappointment of failure must be avoided at all costs. 
  • You aren’t worthy of looking good. You’re inadequate.
  • You have too much weight to lose. The mountain is too high.
  • You don’t deserve good health. You deserve to be punished. 
Taking a Bird’s Eye View

To take a bird’s eye view, you have to start being comfortable with the fact that nothing is permanent. Even that overwhelming wave of emotion will soon come to pass. There’s a shelf life to everything.

Your present worry will not be the same in an hour or two. Therefore you can coach yourself into not caring. You say to yourself, ‘I don’t care what I feel; all I have to do is wait for the feeling to go away.”

Being Comfortable with Change

We suffer because we become overly attached to a single outcome or an idea. We start believing that things are permanent or should follow a certain rule. We believe the story in our mind that we have created. 

The trick to connecting with that bird’s eye view lies in the acknowledgement that your brain is a machine programmed to exaggerate the danger. When you start looking closely at worst-case scenarios, you might realize that most of your thoughts aren't even true. They’re wildly exaggerated or distorted versions borne out of your brain’s desire to protect you.

An intense craving is often your brain’s way of making a big deal out of something temporary. It’s your brain doing its job. Once you become aware of that, sit and wait for the feeling to go away. All thoughts and sensations are temporary. None of them are worthy of your panic and obsession; they’re generally not even true!

Zeroing in On the Why Bother Part

From that bird’s eye view, zero in and examine that inner voice more closely. Start by imagining that you’re in a hallway filled with a calm, compassionate, and curious energy. Then, focus on that little voice that says, “Why bother? It’s hopeless. Who cares?” Really try to find that part inside of you—it might not be a voice but a tension in the body or an image. 

Surprisingly, you might discover that this inner part has your best interests at heart. It’s worried about you and scared that you might feel deprived. It wants you to feel comfortable and safe. It might be protecting you from a loud and angry inner critic. It might secretly need you to rebel against dieting rules, or society, or your husband. It might know that if you do lose weight and then gain it back again, the devastation of this will be unbearable. 

Once you understand that this voice is trying to help, you can also see how it’s hurting you. From then, you can take time to make a connection with that voice. Let it know that you appreciate its efforts but that it’s hurting more than it’s helping. You have to work with that voice as part of an ongoing project of learning, growing, and loving yourself. 

Getting Help

While it’s possible to do this work on your own, it’s often best to seek professional help to avoid feeling confused or overwhelmed. That “why bother?” voice is tricky since it can change a negative emotion instantly. It works because when you give in to the voice that urges you to eat, it magically lifts your mood.

But while it might think it’s helping and it may provide relief now, it’s not helping you over the long term. It’s your brain doing what it thinks it needs to do to avoid discomfort and pain.

Remember: this emotion will go away. If you find yourself going down the rabbit hole, cling to that mantra. You can also chant:

  • I know what healing eating looks like for me.
  • I know what would be helpful for me.
  • I stop and pay attention to what I eat.
  • I don't let myself starve. I plan. 
  • I allow myself to eat when I’m physically hungry. I am learning to recognize what physical hunger feels like. 

Every time you listen to your body, you take good care of yourself. It’s not about dieting or deprivation; it’s about being honest with what’s best for yourself. 

5 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

“A healthy relationship with food is one that is natural and easy and not stressful. It's forgiving.”

“One of those laws of inner physics: nothing is permanent. So it doesn't really matter what's going on in that moment, if it's an emotion, if it's a sensation, guarantee 100%, it's not going to be there very long.”

“So the bird's eye view, this special trick is to remember the impermanence of all things because this is really the core of suffering. We're thinking things are going to be permanent, or we're thinking that things should be a certain way, and they're not.”

“Each time is just a way to learn and grow and love yourself through it and be compassionate. There's nothing you can’t handle. You're just gonna be present in life doing the best you can.” 

“There's always a way to take care of yourself. And this is taking care of yourself. It’s listening to your body and not doing something that you're going to later regret. And this has nothing to do with dieting. And this has nothing to do with deprivation. This is about being honest with yourself, and what would be the best for yourself and your body.”

Resources  If you listened to the podcast and enjoyed it, please share and post a review!

Have any questions or want to schedule an appointment or take my class? You can email me at betsy@betsythurstonrd.com or visit my website.

To making peace with eating,

Betsy

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