Weight-loss expert Andrew Dickson introduces the 'other'… how things in our life can derail our self image.
Soon after I had lost weight, my mother asked me out to lunch. I remember this well because we went to a café I had never been to before (a rare thing at that time). I ordered a yummy quiche with kumara and salmon, and during the meal, my mum mentioned that some of her friends had asked if she thought I would 'return to my old ways' and regain my weight.
Hearing this sent me into a bit of a tailspin – my mum always has this effect on me when it comes to my weight. Although it wasn't her own thoughts (she was repeating her friends' question), the comment left me feeling like I was doomed to fail.
My mum wasn't trying to upset me, she was just making conversation in a new situation (this was one of the first times we had eaten together since I lost weight).
The comment itself wasn't really the issue – it has been said to me many times by many people since then, but coming from my mum, it left me reeling and feeling lacking, like I wasn't good enough to weigh less.
It was, however, an excellent learning experience – I learnt the power and impact important others can have on a bloke. 'Others' come from numerous walks of life – they include family members, partners, or can even be what I call the 'voice of normal society'.
For me, this includes those ultra-thin people on TV ads selling new convenience foods. When I see them I feel a sense of worthlessness, like they are right and I am wrong. It's important to recognise and acknowledge this voice of the 'other' in our life.
There's no reason to fight the 'other', but because it is so powerful in how we view ourselves, being aware of it and dealing with it in a healthy way is important. Here are some tips:
- Be wary when you react very strongly to a comment about your weight or something you see – this is probably a powerful reaction to an important 'other' in your world. It isn't necessarily reality.
- When you recognise the 'other' at work, just observe it for what it is – like my mum just trying to live with a different son, or a person trying to make a living selling convenience foods on TV. It almost always isn't about you.