We get so convinced that the horrible Jack Stories we tell ourselves are the absolute truth that we end up eating emotionally. And whereas Jack in the flat-tire story punched the farmer, emotional eating is the way that many of us, in the name of self-care, punch ourselves.
Think for a moment of the various Jack Stories you tell yourself about the size and shape of your body ("it's lumpy, it's ugly"); about losing weight ("I have no self-control"); about how happy you will be when you take off those 10 or 20 or 50 pounds ("ecstatic, triumphant, at peace with myself forevermore").
Now, ask yourself how you feel when you tell yourself Jack Stories. The answer will probably be: miserable, awful, ugly, doomed.
Ask yourself if what you are telling yourself is true. Is it true that your body is ugly? Dont answer so fast! (I heard you!) Ask yourself to what and whom you are comparing yourself? To a younger version of yourself? To a 20-year-old or an actress who works out three hours a day?
Your body is the piece of the universe you've been given, the place where love and joy and grief happen, where happiness unfolds. Do you really want to keep believing that it's a horrible, ugly, lumpy thing? Do you really want to keep punching yourself like that? (Call me psychic, but I have a feeling that the answer is no.)
When you stop telling yourself Jack Stories about your body, about your eating, about your life, you stop having to eat to fix how awful you feel because you stop feeling awful. Then and only then can you actually figure out what is really true. What you really want. What you really feel. What you really believe.
If you make only one resolution this year, let it be this: That you'll start questioning your Jack Stories and look for the truth. Ask yourself what would happen if you stopped the incessant chatter about how lumpy or stretchy or ugly your body is. What would happen if, instead, you thanked your body for taking you this far. For schlepping packages and bearing children and making love. Then listen to it carefully to see what it needs.
Maybe it doesn't want so much sugar. Maybe it wants more rest. Maybe it doesn't want to eat one-handed in the car. Listen closely, carefully, and, with the utmost kindness, decide if it's possible for you to put just one of your bodys real wishes into action. When you pay attention to what your body really wants, you won't have to use deprivation and willpower and force to rein yourself in. You won't have to make resolutions. When you and your body are on the same side, your actions will be effortless, graceful, and loving.
Jack in the story never considered love or kindness. He never took time to learn the truth. Make that the big difference between him and you.
Geneen Roth is an international teacher, speaker, and writer of best-selling books on emotional eating. You can visit her at geneenroth.com.