Find your answer to “That Body Part” from Week 1, Day 5. You’ve had a month’s distance and can now look at it with fresh, objective-ish eyes.
Analyze your thoughts by looking for awfulizing, upward comparisons, or any other irrational language.
Pretend like someone you don’t know wrote the original text.
What would you say to her? How would you pick apart her thoughts?
Write your answer on the same page as the original paragraph.
For example, below are some bullet points analysis of what I wrote in Week 1. I chose to use the personal pronoun “she” to provide some distance:
- She spends the entire paragraph practicing upward comparisons. Her current belly is only compared to her previous one (e.g. “before kids I never thought about my belly,” “I was slender and unobtrusive,” “It didn’t make a mockery of cotton”). The frame of reference is always the past, rather than the future. There is no rational reason that all the comparisons must be between the past and present rather than between the present and a possible future or between her present and someone else’s present. She should try downward comparisons instead.
- She awfulizes A LOT. The subtext of the paragraph is that having a broken apart belly is the worse thing that could ever happen, but this just isn’t true. She even says she can handle the stretch marks, but not handle the extra skin or the pooch. However, there is no reason one kind of preference (not having stretch marks) is able to be tolerated, whereas another kind of preference (not having extra skin and a pooch) is not able to be tolerated. Maybe she can decide to tolerate both if she stops awfulizing one over the other.
- She makes a lot of demands under the guise of “wants.” For example, she writes, “I want the gulf to vanish, not just get smaller.” This so-called want is not a preference, but rather a demand for something that she knows is impossible without surgery. Similarly, she “wants” to stop thinking about her body, but her language suggests this is really a demand. She thinks if she doesn’t cease all negative thoughts about her belly that she has failed. This isn’t true. She can keep the thoughts, but turn them into preferences instead of demands.
- She is enacting two unproductive core beliefs: “I am unlovable” and “I am helpless.” She thinks getting rid of her belly will make her more lovable. I would never tell a friend that she is less lovable because of how she looks. She also believes she is helpless. For example, she notes that she “works out properly” and “eats okay,” implying that she has nothing left to try. However, she always has agency. For example, she can try different exercises. She can save money for a tummy tuck if need be. She can take more time to rethink her body image. She can practice the Miracle Question again and think of more ways to enact a better body image. She is not helpless.
I’m not going to pretend that this type of analysis is easy. But taking the perspective of an outside observer is incredibly helpful. We tend to believe our own thoughts more than we should.
If you would like to share your analysis or get my input, email me the original and the revised paragraph.
Return to Week 6