Women Gaining Weight Back: Conscious vs. Unconscious
Posted Aug 27 2010 2:00am
Keeping yourself aware of your own actions and their
consequences is an important deterrent to regaining weight you’ve lost. But what
happens when your actions begin outside of conscious awareness, and what can you
do if you don’t know they’re there?
Whether we realize it or not, we are primed to think and
behave by what we experience— internally as well as externally. It happens so
fast. You can’t help it because thinking a certain way or reacting to specific
cues has become habit. If it’s habit, we may not have a chance to stop it or
choose another way.
But what is habit and outside your conscious control is
still you. Everyone who has found herself humming a favorite tune or mentally
reciting lyrics knows this effect. It is you, despite the fact that before you
know it, you’re doing it.
When you’re trying to maintain weight you’ve lost, one fix
for this “unconscious you” is to make yourself more aware. Freud called this
making the unconscious conscious. This has its limitations though. Your
habitual actions, for the most part, are always partially outside of your
awareness. You are not conscious of wanting to hum the tune or recite the
lyrics until you do it. And this is the way it can be for food too. You splurge
or binge or go overboard or lose your grip and slip because it’s you, conscious
A more sure-fire approach is to get the “unconscious
you” to not deter the “conscious you” from your goal. This is what the work of
psychoanalytic psychotherapy is all about, making what’s outside of your
awareness, but still inside you, be in tune with what you consciously want
As you can see, vigilance alone won’t do it. It
helps, but the best way is to transform your unconscious. Make it what you want so the “conscious you” has an easier, more successful
time of it.