“Andie was driving in her car on the way home when she thought of stopping at Dunkin Donuts. In the past, she would have stopped and gotten coffee and doughnuts. She would have done this despite the fact that she was dieting and desperately wanted to lose weight. This time, however, though she had the thought of stopping, she didn’t know if she would stop or not.
What was different this time was that Andie thought about what she was thinking. She became fully aware that she was having that Dunkin Donuts thought. It was not the old fleeting thought that passed through her mind so quickly that it was out of awareness before she thought it, but nevertheless powerful enough to influence her.
Andie wasn’t a person who was spacey, or ditzy, or oblivious. She was a self-reflective person, more than most people. But she had her limitations, and not being aware at certain times was one of them.
She had been hard at work this day. She had finished the day’s work and was making the two-hour drive back home, the same two-hour drive she had made early that morning to accommodate her boss’ request. Andie was thinking what a big imposition it was for her to work on a Saturday, especially given the four hours she had to drive to and from the work location. In the past, even in the recent past, she wouldn’t have allowed herself to think of fulfilling a work responsibility as an imposition. She would have thought of work on a Saturday as an opportunity to prove herself, to show how responsible she was and that nothing, nothing on earth would be too much for her.
Lately Andie had been having new feelings about herself. She was getting over her need to acquiesce to the other, to have to prove how good she was, to be overly generous, and to put everyone else’s feelings and needs before her own. She’d been this way for the longest time, stretching back into her childhood. She had begun to see the flip side, how much it really did cost her. As a child, she felt she had no life of her own, only what her parents wanted for her, what her responsibilities were to them.
Andie found herself thinking about all of this as she drove home from work on this particular Saturday. Pleasing her parents, no matter what, had turned into pleasing her boss no matter what. This made her smile, then laugh out loud. Then she laughed again at the fact that she was laughing out loud. Thinking about food wasn’t the only thing that was rewarding. Knowing herself, being on top of those tricky feelings of hers, letting herself be aware, all these things were rewards too.
Andie’s drive home was proceeding nicely. Ahead and to the left was Dunkin Donuts with her just reward for a hard day’s work, but there was no need. It was reward enough that she was getting in touch with herself and she was becoming her own free agent. There were many more rewards than food these days.
Maybe next time she would tell her boss she doesn’t do Saturdays.”
excerpt from Stop Your Emotional Eating. By Kenneth Schwarz PhD and Julie North Schwarz