We are familiar with ourselves. We think, ‘This is me. This is how I am; this is how I’ve always been. This is who I am. I am this person, this body, this history, and these circumstances.’
Have you ever noticed that how you feel about and perceive yourself in the world changes with the wind? Sometimes you feel like a small, needy child. Sometimes like a superior know-it-all. Other times kind and loving. And occasionally (or more than occasionally) you feel like breaking all the rules and being reckless and wild. If this Me is such a sure, solid thing then why does it change continuously? And why is it so flexible according to outer circumstances – like how our partner treats us today, what the bank balance is, or what the number on the scale says today?
Who we take ourselves to be is mostly our false self.
Where did this false self originate? Even in the best of childhood environments, you are programmed to unconsciously interpret any lack of holding, mirroring, or unconditional loving to mean there is something deficient or lacking about you. It is a normal part of human development and the best option available to the tiny being you once were. The stuff of your consciousness was molded, imprinted, and shaped into your sense of self with beliefs, ideas, and images about who and what you are based on how you were related to in the minutes, days, and years after you came into this world.
You’ve come to know these imprints as yourself. And while you have certainly matured in terms of your biology and your intellectual capacity, your imprints and the resulting false sense of self tend not to change very much unless you explore them directly, as you are going to do in this course. Rationally, you know that what was true when you were three years old is no longer true. But to these early, imprinted places in you, what was true about you and life at three is still true. If your three-year-old environment taught you that you were selfish and bad and only lovable if you took care of everyone else, you likely still believe you are a good, loving, and lovable person when you put yourself last.
Perhaps the only area in your life that you’ve allowed yourself to have what you really want is with food. But because eating is the only channel for the satisfaction of all your natural human desires (desire to be seen, held, loved, paid attention to) your hunger is insatiable. No matter how much you eat of your favorite foods they never hit the spot. It’s simply not possible to satisfy all your hungers with food because food can’t make you feel loved, lovable, special, seen, held, safe, or connected.
On the contrary, eating to try to fill all the hungers you push away by focusing on caring for others results in a false physical shape. Your body becomes encumbered by too much of what you don’t really need, adding to your suffering and negative self-perception. By virtue of it’s appearance and burden under the weight of too much flesh, your body/soul is symbolically saying, “You’re giving me too much of what I don’t need and not enough of what I do.”
Whether your particular false identity is putting yourself last or feeling you are all alone or trying to fix what’s wrong with you, your body/soul is actually your ally in transformation. It will help you see through the misperceptions of your past and discover what’s really true and beautiful about you once you learn to understand its nonverbal language.
Like your body/soul, the level of perception that’s keeping your destructive patterns in place is sometimes nonverbal or preverbal. Your false self-perception and false shape are rooted in a time when you were little, helpless, undeveloped in your capacity for understanding who is responsible for what happens to you, and totally dependent upon and at the mercy of your environment for your physical, mental, and emotional survival and well-being. You had no choice but to make the inaccurate meaning about yourself and life that you did.
This false self includes a cast of inner characters that keep us stuck trying to lose weight using the System of the Lie over and over again. I call them the System of the Lie Players. Everyone’s players are unique in what they say and how they present themselves, but there’s a very consistent pattern that plays out between them. To give you a vivid picture, I’ll introduce you to your players by showing you how mine operated. Yours may look a little different and say different things than mine, but the essence is the same. We’ll get to know your players very well later in the course. For now, I invite you to just sense into yourself as you hear about mine and see what you notice. These are my players and this is their show, the show that ran for all my life until I experienced True Transformation:
When I finally get to the point where I can’t stand being overweight any more and really want to make a change, the first player, the Inner Critic, appears with a harsh, disgusted look on his face, preaching to me from the book called The One Right Way to Lose Weight, “Well, it’s about time, you fat pig. You had to get big as a house before you finally got disgusted enough. OK, here’s what we’re going to do. Jill at work just lost 110 pounds on the Hamster Diet and says it’s the easiest thing she’s ever done, and you know how she likes to eat. Her brother, Jack just started and has lost 50 pounds already. I read the book; Dr. Bill endorses it. So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to throw out the bad food. We’re going to buy the good food and we’re going to start on Monday (because for some reason you always have to start on Monday). We’re going to order the Hamster Wheel for exercise and we’re going to tell everybody we’re doing it this time for the extra pressure so you’ll stick to it because we both know how weak you are. You’ll lose two pounds a week so all this weight will be gone by the holidays. Then we’ll get new clothes for Christmas, look great, feel great, and finally start getting some positive attention around here. Yeah. We’re really going to make it happen this time!”
And so I do it. I throw out the bad food, buy the good food, and start on Monday after bingeing all weekend. And I really do it for some length of time – maybe five months, five weeks, five days, or maybe I only make it five hours because everyone at work is taking Candice to lunch at Bodacious Burritos for her birthday and I just can’t say no to Mexican food. Or maybe I make it five minutes in the door at work until I see that someone brought donuts or my favorite cookies and I can’t pass the break room without breaking down. Or maybe I just get up that Monday morning and say, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop eating fast food.”
However long it takes, one moment I’m doing it, I’m following the diet, I’m being good, I’m eating right, and then all of sudden something happens. And in me this something is very small, young, cute in an innocent kind of way, has really big you-know- you-want-to-give-it-to-me eyes looking up at the Inner Critic, and says: “I want ice cream!” Or “I want pizza!” Or, “I want Cheetos! Yay Cheetos!” Or whatever she wants. And she knows precisely what it is she wants too. “I want Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey! And I want it now.” As her ridiculously long eyelashes go bat-bat.
The Inner Critic is furious. “You know you can’t have ice cream on the Hamster Diet. I don’t care what kind it is. No! No ice cream.”
And as though she hears nothing, she says again, “I want ice cream!”
Incredulous, the Critic says, “What did I just tell you? No! No ice cream. What are you an idiot?”
While the “No” doesn’t register in this young part, the Child/Victim, the insult does. Her wanting for ice cream turns into a shrill whining for ice cream. Which is met with more anger and insults from the Critic.
This is a stalemate. Neither side is going to give. So another part comes on the scene. And this part has one of two flavors.
First I’ll introduce the flavor that was strongest in me.
She’s fat but not ashamed of it. She’s strong and no one pushes her around. She’s androgynous. Tough. She’s the Rebel and she has a favorite gesture (one that prominently showcases her middle finger) for the Critic and she’s giving it to him now regarding his f- ing Hamster Diet while she says to the Child, “So Mr. Tight Ass over there says you can’t have ice cream? How about you go and show him how much ice cream you can’t have. And if you want something salty afterward, you go ahead and have that too. Sometimes you gotta have both salty and sweet. You have whatever you want, you don’t have to listen to that shit.”
Or, a very different part comes in to break the stalemate. Like the Rebel, she too is big and round but unlike the Rebel, the Rescuer is soft and sweet and nice and huggy. And she ignores the Critic completely while saying to the child, “Awwww honey, you’ve had such a hard day. Nobody deserves to be on a harsh diet with the poopy kind of day you’ve had. You go ahead and have the ice cream; you deserve it! And if you need something salty you go ahead and have that too. You can go on that stinky diet tomorrow.”
Whether it’s the Rebel or the Rescuer, the outcome is the same. I’m off the diet, eating the ice cream, Cheetos, pizza, or whatever. And at first it’s very exciting. I’m wiggling like a kid and singing the happy, “I Got My Ice Cream” song. I’m free – out of jail! I’m out of that depriving structure and away from that mean Critic! For a moment, anyway. I might even taste the first few bites of that ice cream but by the time I finish the quart, I’m not tasting anything. And I’m starting to feel not so good. Physically and emotionally. I think, ‘What the hell just happened? I was doing so well, I was doing this thing for five months (or five weeks or five days). I threw out all the bad food, spent all that money on the good food. I blew it again. Oh man, and I told everybody. I hope no one asks. This happens every time. I’m such a loser. It’s hopeless. What’s wrong with me?’
My self-esteem, self-trust, self-confidence, and self-love take a huge hit. Feeling like a failure, I give up on trying to change anything. Maybe for a few hours or maybe for a few years. And that’s probably a healthier choice than continuing to let myself down over and over and over again.
But at some point, a spark of possibility arises in me along with a desire for something more – I want more of myself, more goodness, more love, and more for my life. I make contact with a deep longing to be freer, more alive, more powerful. To more authentically express the beauty of the unique soul that I am.
This spark of possibility re-opens the door that I closed after my last diet failure. The spark itself is good and holy. It’s the personal part of the Divine in me and you and every human being that compels us toward greater embodiment and expression of love, truth, and beauty in ourselves and in our world. It’s our little piece of the creative force of life that’s constantly evolving and unfolding itself from a field of pure, unlimited potential.
But as soon as this spark arises, the Critic comes in and says, “It’s about time, you fat pig. You had to go and gain back all the weight you lost and then some, didn’t you? Ok, well here’s what we’re going to do. Since you’re clearly a loser, I got the book from the TV show by Killian Dom Ineightricks. That sweet lady is going to whip your ass into shape this time. So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to throw out the bad food. We’re going to buy the good food and we’re going to start on Monday…” and the whole cycle starts again.
A spark of the sacred arises and the habits of these characters of our false self – the System of the Lie Players – wrestle it down to the level of the mundane or the profane. You feel stuck in this hopeless cycle of trying and failing over and over again. You feel frustrated, if not exasperated, hopeless, helpless, hurt, and humiliated. You don’t realize that you keep trying to free yourself – to get yourself to a more true, beautiful place – from inside the system of the false. What’s false can never lead us to what’s true. In fact and practice, the false dissolves in the presence of your realization of the love, truth, and beauty that you are.
As compelling as the Critic may be, which can be very compelling because it often holds a kernel of truth, it can never, ever, ever take you to your embodied experience of love, truth, power, beauty, strength, peace, and happiness. Because it’s not part of what’s real. The Critic and all the players are false aspects of ourselves mimicking something real.
The Critic is mimicking True Guidance. And because you don’t know any better, you are looking to the Critic for guidance because you think it’s the voice of reason. You don’t realize all the judgments and instructions in the critic’s arsenal come from the very distant past. It’s not the voice of reason, rather it’s an internalized memory loop of criticism and value judgments from the parents, teachers, and others in your childhood at their exaggerated worst. The critic forever treats you like a child because it’s a tape from your childhood. It never changes. And it’s completely irrelevant to the adult you are today. This part wins the prize for being the single greatest obstacle to your transformation. In this course you will learn how to disengage from your Inner Critic and develop True Guidance that always knows the optimal way to Take Your True Shape.
The Rebel is mimicking True Strength, Will, and Power. However, we can know for sure that the Rebel is not the real deal because there is a self-destructive quality to its influence. Your rebellion may feel like you are protecting yourself, standing up for yourself, or being an autonomous, unique individual. However it does so always in reaction to some authority – inner or outer. It is actually as disconnected from your center, what you truly need, as the Critic. True Strength, Will, and Power are not self-destructive reactions to authority, they are never separate from love and they are always aligned with your deepest needs. The Rebel will be the doorway to embodying your True Strength, Will, and Power later in this course.
The Rescuer is mimicking True Compassion, Pleasure, and Love. As with the Rebel we can know for sure that the Rescuer is not the real deal because there is a self-destructive quality to our actions under its influence. It’s mimicking kindness, caring, comfort, and pleasure but it’s always out of touch with our real needs. For example, when we’re hurt we need someone to listen to our feelings in a kind and inviting way. We don’t need ice cream. It’s like putting a foreign coin in a vending machine and getting upset when it doesn’t give you your goodie. You can put 1000 foreign coins in that machine and never get what you want.
Take Tamara’s plant. The soil is dry. It’s only natural to give it water. But instead Tamara gives it fertilizer. The leaves start to dry out and she gives it more fertilizer. The leaves start falling off; she gives it more fertilizer. There’s nothing wrong with fertilizer, just like there’s nothing wrong with ice cream. It’s just not what’s needed at the moment. Like Tamara with her plant, the Rescuer is unaligned with love and unattuned to your natural needs and hungers. True Compassion, Pleasure, and Love are perfectly attuned to your hurts, needs, and hungers and bring you what you really need with exact precision. Later in this course, the Rescuer will be the portal for embodying your True Compassion, Pleasure, and Love.
The Child/Victim is mimicking your True Preciousness, Aliveness, and Playful Originality. With this part, we know for sure it’s a pattern and not the real deal because it denies reality. While you may sometimes feel like one, you are not a child anymore. And while it may be sadly true that you, like many children, were a victim of abuse of power or something else unconscionable, you are no longer trapped in a child’s delicate body, immature brain, or dearth of options. With or without a difficult childhood, we all come into adulthood with inaccurate imprints on our consciousness (the only way our undeveloped brain could make sense of not being perfectly attuned to) about ourselves and what’s possible in our lives. The Child/Victim is the seat of the myriad of false beliefs that make up our false identity and hold us to a false shape in body, relationships, and life.
The Taking Your True Shape® approach will teach you to attune to yourself in the precise way that nurtures and supports the True, Precious, and Original you to innocently and effortlessly live the life you were born to live.
The System of the Lie Players are both parts we play and parts others play in our lives through a normal psychological mechanism called projection. For example, if your partner or doctor or mother continuously criticizes your body and food choices, he or she is playing out your own Inner Critic for you to see. In response, you may play the Child/Victim feeling unseen, hurt, and victimized by the Critic’s cruelty. Then you’ll likely play the Rebel and eat even more what he/she doesn’t want you to eat or play the Rescuer to comfort yourself with whatever for you is nurturing food. It’s so automatic that all of this can happen in seconds. We’re in the food before we know what hit us.
When we’re trapped in the System of the Lie and the vicious cycle of the players, we feel that if we could just get rid of one or more of the players – inside or out – it would be easier to stick to the program and all our troubles would be solved. You think, “If I could just get rid of my nagging spouse I wouldn’t feel so much stress and I’d eat less.” Or “If I could just get rid of this impulsive whiny brat inside that’s always wanting to eat what I’m not supposed to have then I could be good and lose weight.”
As you’ll see when we cover each of the players individually later in the course, getting rid of any part of ourselves is not the answer. If we reject the Rebel we’re pushing away our potential for embodying our True Strength. Each of the players acts in the self- defeating way it does because it is a distortion of various aspects of our deepest nature. It got kinked up in the process of growing up. While it makes sense that we think getting rid of them would end the tremendous suffering their crazy dance causes us, it simply doesn’t work that way. The only way to break their vicious cycle and free ourselves from the pain of their repetitive patterns is to mature ourselves through them.
The players and the false self are not our greatest potential but they can guide us to it. Transformation happens through the brilliant and loving process of growing ourselves up, which bring us to our next myth – the Myth of Maturity.
What arises in you when you read about the false self-being at the core of your issues with food and weight?
Do you feel hopeful? Discouraged? Doubtful? Describe how you feel.
Do you experience any of the System of the Lie Players in yourself? If so, which feel the strongest to you?
What do your players look like and what kinds of things do they say to you?
Who in your life is acting out your players for you?
Simply enter your name and email address here, click submit, and download on the next page.