Saturday, April 25, 2009

Meeting Your Therapeutic Self & Inner Family

My new book, "How Many Cookies Will It Take to Make Me Happy?" follows the therapy model I designed for myself & then integrated into both my private practice patient care, including the design production of my CD/mp3 programs.

Whether working with Disorderly Eating or any other life issue, first we must uncover the negative behavioral habits, including all of their facets & tangents. Next, we must treat them therapeutically. This is accomplished through the development of a very strong "Therapeutic Self" who will work inside a "frame" or specialized imagery for organizing particular projects.This is the part of yourSelf that is the adult/parent/teacher...a mature Self that is directly connected to your Higher Self.


I'd like you to read through my suggestions & then go back & read them again, but this time work within the images I'm going to give you. We always begin by relaxing deeply into the moment. This is simple to do. Just take a deep cleansing breath, rather like a yawn breath. Make yourself comfortable. You may think that you are already comfortable, but once you "intend" to become very comfortable you will sense the difference. To your right is your Therapeutic Self. As I already mentioned, this is the adult/parent/teacher, mature part of you that is directly connected to your Higher Self. Notice this part of you now. You might actually design an image that you can see in the theater of your mind, or you can just "think" this Self; whatever you choose. Let's infuse this Self with some positive emotional qualities, such as patient, gentle, kind, confident & respectful of who you are, for indeed, you are one & the same.

Let's talk about who you are, as well as who you are not. This concept will help you to begin to understand how your Self is divided & how you will be working with the frame-image of the "Therapeutic Pathway". In short, you are the writer, director & producer of your life. Read that last sentence again. It's meaning is much more than a group of words. It is an Affirmation of self-ownership & self-responsibility.

What do I mean by this? First, you were born alone & will die alone. The life that occurs between those two points belongs to you. What you choose to do with it, is up to you & no one else; not your mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, children, get the idea. All of these people, no matter whether you love them or hate them, have no ownership over your life. This does not mean that you don't have responsibilities to your relationships, for indeed you do. It simply means that your life is yours & that you are responsible for your choices. This concept is extremely important because without it, you give away your power. In no shape or form, are you possessed or owned by others. When this happens it is difficult to say "no." You can get stuck in the "pleasing" scenario. You can become fearful, often allowing others to manipulate you, as if you were a puppet on a string. When you are with or in your Therapeutic Self, this is not possible. You are focused, wise, quietly attentive & assertive. You are in full ownership of your Self & what is yours.....your Therapeutic Pathway, also known as your life. Remember? The space between your birth & your death.

Yes, you own your "Therapeutic Pathway." This is where you live your life, staying inside your "Mature Therapeutic Self" as much as possible. Remember, that's your adult/parent/teacher Self that is connected to your Higher Self or the Universal Mind. You may wonder where you go when you are not with or in your "Therapeutic Self." Well, you are with or in your other Self or emotional child-Self. That part is always in process; always learning & growing. Keep in mind that we learn from both positive & negative emotional states, as well as the behaviors or habits that accompany them. Our thought processes are internal communications from all of our parts....Therapeutic Self, negative emotional child-selves & positive parts. In the future, as you learn to tune into your thoughts in new ways, you will be able to identify each part.

So now you have a family portrait of sorts. Image or think it. There you are with your Therapeutic Self & a group of emotional child-selves, some negative & others positive. I'd like you to better define them by giving them tee shirts with their names embossed on the front. For this imagery exercise, let's take the ones that are involved with eating practices & place them in their own sub-group. Have them stand over there. . In addtion, on their shirts you will recognize their particular eating facet or tangent. There are those related to food choices, shopping, bingeing, restaurant eating, etc. Notice that there are both negative & positive members of the group. You may be surprised to know this, but it is true. You actually do well in some areas & it's important to acknowledge this. As you learn to carefully identify your helpful emotions, you will be able to enhance their power, making them bigge, so they can work to assist you in other areas where you may not be as skillful. For example, if you do well in meal planning, but not so well in restaurant eating, you can bring your positive meal planning emotions into the restaurant eating arena.

There is another aspect to your "inner family." Tilt your eyes up slightly. I'd like you to image your Higher Self or Higher Power. This is not a religious exercise, but a spiritual one. No matter what your beliefs, do know that we all have a connection to something higher, be in a Higher Self or a Higher Power. Notice that this part is "over-arching" the portrait, perhaps shining light down on it. Go further into the image by sensing the light. Perhaps notice its brightness, the rays, the gentle heat or love that it provides. This completes your first healing image for working within your Self.


It's time to design another very important mind-image, that of the Therapeutic or Goal-den Path. You will be utilizing & growing this image over & over again, so take your time as you put the ideas together. Let's begin by going back to the concept of the space between your life & death. This is your Path. You've been on it since your birth, but most likely never imaged it in this way. Just as if you had a drawing pad in front of you, draw a path & paint in golden bricks. I like to switch the images of golden & goal-den. The subconscious mind likes games such as this & we want to pleasure the mind in positive ways. Let's continue with the mind drawing. Go ahead & place a large garden on the right hand side of the path & several smaller gardens on the left. The major garden on the right is called the "mindbody health garden" & it contains plants representing all of your body parts. The smaller gardens on the left represent your relationship with yourSelf, other significant relationships such as your husband, wife, children, your work/prosperity, home, spiritual & future areas. We'll be working with all of these later on.

Remember....this is your Path & while others can be invited here, they come only as guests & only to work in your behalf. In the next blog, we'll enter the major mindbody health garden & set it up for high level nutrition & behaviors.

Copyrighted 2009 Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht
May not be reproduced without permission of the author.

Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht is the author of Sugar...the Hidden Eating Disorder & How to Lick It. She is President & Program Designer, Sarasota Medical & Sports Hypnosis Institute & International Medical Health Writers, Ltd.

The Healing Zone

There are 4 basic steps or active images for Managing Disorderly Eating. Active means that you will be participating "inside" the images. Here we will be building a working or Healing Zone for recovery. In the future, I'll give you additional imagery to add to the basic steps. As your portfolio of imagery grows, your subconscious mind will become more "in love" with your personal recovery & you will begin to notice how it encourages you in new, positive directions.

When dealing with addiction or imbalance of any sort, the mind can benefit from having special structure & this is what these images will provide. And while they give stability, they are fluid & will change throughout your work. I've been working with my Healing Zone for over two decades & while I can easily recognize them in the theater of my mind, once I enter them I'm continually amazed at how my subconscious mind has added to them over the years. It's like having a personal inner coach who is constantly present.

Here are the 4 areas we'll be establishing. Think of them as separate buildings on a particular street. My Healing Center is in a private park, filled with mature trees & lots of flowers. There is a brick paved road & a stone walking path that leads between the buildings. For me, the stone path symbolizes stepping stones & the child part of me loves to skip over them. I share this with you so you can begin to enjoy the beauty of managing your life issues with Interactive Imagery. Keep in mind that your subconscious mind is a "creative child-mind" & becomes very impressed with this type of playful imagery, that is saturated with emotions of joy & pleasure. Then, it will do everything to make it come true for you. Let me mention here that the mind works backwards; once it senses the desired outcome, it will provide the go forward plan to bring it to fruition.

OK...let me take you inside the Healing Zone imagery:

1. Restaurant
2. Bank
3. Exercise Center
4. Film Studio


Obviously, eating the right foods, in the right amounts & at the right time are paramount to recovery from disorderly eating, as well as any addiction or body-mind imbalance. The image of a restaurant works well for me & many of my patients like this as well. Let me take you through my imagery. Then you can decide if you would like to work with something like this, or choose something else.

As we enter the building, we find ourselves in the lobby where a large painting of myself is hanging on the wall. I'm holding a child, who is also mySelf. This is very metaphoric, indicating that as I care for mySelf, I care for the child within. If I touch my hand in the painting, the image of mySelf awakens & will step down to greet me. Having a positive, loving & respectful relationship with yourSelf is paramount to recovery, as well as building self-esteem. I pay attention to the details of mySelf; of course they are all positive & glowing.

We enter the restaurant & I'm aware that this is a "restaurant of the world." It is filled with people from all over the world; people who are eating wonderful, healthy food. In other words, we are all on the same page. The world is filled with people who are practicing high level health. It is powerful for me to know this because in the life that I observe out of imagery, it is not like this. Yes, I do need a new model & this is perfect. My lonliness subsides.

Because it is a restaurant of the world, it is divided into sectors; breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks. As I walk around with my painting Self, I notice the healthy foods & amounts that are being enjoyed for all meals. I like to take my time here because in the past, my choices were often narrow & uninteresting. Now this is just the opposite.While I'm viewing these inner images, my subconscious mind is fast at work, making plans & suggestions for what I need to change. These will pop into my mind at a later time as positive suggestions, motivated by a high desire to move out of my rut.

I often stop & chat with the different "visitors" in the restaurant. I ask them direct questions & always get answers. This is another view of the subconscious mind at work. Sometimes I taste things. Involving the senses is a great way to explode your innate creativity. I'm often invited to sit down & join in the conversations. As I become more involved with the socialization & joy of participating in healthy mealtimes, my own mind is once again looking to revamp my old patterns.

I like to visit the chefs from around the world & observe them prepare wonderful recipes that are easy & delicious. In my out of imagery life, I'm often not keen on cooking, having tired of the process many years ago. This negative emotional marinade made it difficult for me to get healthy & so this type of imagery is very powerful in the area of changes that are important to me.

On another occasion I'll take you outside the restaurant to the gardens that include all the body part plants that benefit directly from the restaurant. This area serves as a very important motivator, indicating what happens to our body & mind when we don't provide what is needed.In the next installment, we'll leave the restaurant & walk over to the Bank. There we will utilize imagery for managing thoughts & emotions, thereby building our assets.


Copyrighted 2009 Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht
May not be reproduced without permission of the author.

Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht is the author of Sugar...the Hidden Eating Disorder & How to Lick It

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Peek Inside the World of Secret Eating

In my upcoming book, "How Many Cookies Will It Take to Make Me Happy?", we enter the important area of "secret eating behaviors", for in order to recover& to successfully lose weight, if that's the goal, it will be important to move outside of any secrets, coming to know them as "things" & not a description of who you are.

All disorderly eaters keep secrets. I started my secret-eating library when I just a little girl, probably around the age of five. I can remember eating cookies in my closet, far away from my critical mother, who I actually loved dearly. In fact, I loved her so much that I didn't want her to be angry with me, so I hid. That closet became the secret-activity center for reading books of my choice & knitting peacefully, without her grabbing it from my hands to correct my mistakes.

Living in the land of secrets means moving away from one's healthy, balanced path where the maintenance & building healthy self-image, esteem, confidence & even prosperity exists. Secrets live in a different sector of the mind, having special needs & often complicated care & attention. For example, secrets, both big & small, must be continually protected & have special demands. Picture an emotionally imbalanced, spoiled child & you have an fairly accurate image of a secret. As one works to protect or hide the secret, barriers to the outside or non-secret world are constructed. These barriers serve to isolate the Self, marrying it to the secret, while building tension effecting both the mind & body. Over time, these barriers or isolation chambers become stronger, giving the secret even more power. In case you haven't guessed, this is a very stressful way to live life.

I've been an expert secret-keeper, especially in my disorderly eating life, but this has also made me a better therapist, so I could say that my secrets have gifted me. Even though you're probably not a professional therapist, you are a Self-therapist & your very own secrets can gift you as well. It's good to know that it's not all that complicated to disassemble them. All it takes is a hot desire to be honest. As you identify or name the secrets, the barriers will fall, freeing you to live a healthy & creative life.

Right now you might feel a bit uneasy about what I'm suggesting, but that is normal. You want to let go, but at the same time it is frightening. This is because we're so used to being judged by others & especially by ourselves. These inner thoughts are called the VOJ, or voice of judgment. When others criticize, the inner VOJ announces, "I told you so." And so, we believe it & enhance the barrier that hides the secrets. This is the vicious cyle. Now, you are going to identify them & bring them to the light. Remember, the secrets are outside of you. Secrets are "things" that you have in your possession & you are not the secrets. You are simply you.

Let me just touch base for a moment in the area of the VOJ. Once again, the VOJ is a "thing" & is outside of you. Criticism from someone else is also a "thing." You can either accept it or not. Imagine someone handing you a box. You can accept it or not. Although this is a somewhat simplistic image, it will work, especially if the criticism isn't too toxic. If it is, you will want to utilize some self-hypnotic techniques for taking it down a few levels. We'll address this a bit later. For now, decide that all VOJ chatter is simply a bunch of boxes or things.

Let's work to identify some behaviors that may fall into the secret category. I'd like you to work on awareness or noticing these. This is the first step in letting to of them. Remember, if they are hidden away, they can't be released. In the practice of Disorderly Eating we can have many secrets, some more toxic than others, but all toxic nevertheless. Let me share some examples. You may recognize these in yourself or have seen them in others. In an earlier blog I shared my secrets regarding the cookies & car eating. Bingeing in cars while parked or driving is a familiar secret, especially when alone. Sometimes others are present, but these are usually enablers. You can tell the difference by answering the question, "Would I be comfortable eating like this in front of a stranger?" I have a friend who works the drive-through window of a fast food restaurant. She can tell from the order & number of people in the car who is about to have a car-eating binge. If you have the opportunity to look inside someone's car or especially under the seat, you will sense the secret.

Here are some other ways that disorderly eaters hide secrets. Some hide food in their homes, often making up elaborate stories to justify having particular foods in the house. Enablers don't require this explanation, so if you are wondering about a behavior of your own, ask the above question. "Would I be comfortable demonstrating this in front of a stranger?" Just a short comment about enablers. They may be supportive, but they can also be highly critical, making them difficult to understand. This incongruent behavior often leads to more secretive behaviors, as one tries to escape the painful truths.

I have a patient who keeps sugar foods under her bed "because ( she ) is hypoglycemic & may need it in the night." Middle of the night eating is often another secret. Eating in the dark or in front of late night TV is a release mechanism I know well. I would even wake up out of a deep sleep to have this "special reward" time. Another place for secret eating is in the movie theater. The next time you're there, look to the seats next to the wall. Secret eaters tend to like those away areas, because secret eating is about being invisible.

Even if you are a secret eater, you may be highly critical of those who do this. This is part of denial. We know this from studying alcoholics. It's very hard to admit the truth. The same here. We all hide behind masks of what we are willing to allow others to see & is very different from what plays inside our mind. For example, I was a highly successful medical professional, wife, mother, daughter & friend. However, my inside Self considered me to be an imposter. I remember thinking, "If anyone truly knew who I was & what kinds of things I did, they would abandon me." I was living inauthentically in this area of my life & it's very existence was having toxic effects on other areas, disallowing me to enjoy being mySelf.

In the next blog entry, I'll be giving you some specific exercises for working with the identification process.


Copyrighted 2009 - Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht

Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht is author of Sugar...the Hidden Eating Disorder & How to Lick It. The title of her upcoming book is "How Many Cookies Will It Take to Make Me Happy?"