The Dictator, The Rebel and The Victim

12 March 2021 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

When I began making peace with food, I discovered that I had these three eating personalities that really got in the way of ending the food struggle. When I started working as a coach, I noticed that these characters were not unique to my struggle with food but also to most of my clients. If you have eating challenges and a history of dieting or strict food rules then maybe you recognise them too?

The Dictator

The dictator has many restrictive food rules. She thrives on control and hates it when eating feels uncontrolled. The voice of the dictator is critical and bossy, loaded with judgement, and she tells you…

…you shouldn’t eat sugar

…carbs are bad

…don’t eat after 7 pm

…flour and sugar are evil

The dictator’s voice will often go on the attack, by saying things like…

…what’s wrong with you?

…why can’t you just eat “normally”? (read: perfectly)

…you’re so weak

…you’re lazy

…you know you don’t need this.

The dictator blames and shames, thinking that this will motivate you to behave in a certain way. The dictator thrives on all or nothing thinking –  once a rule is broken “everything has gone to ruin”. You have messed up by eating some chocolate so let’s just eat everything and be “perfect” tomorrow.

The Rebel

For many of my dieting years, my eating was driven by the rebel. Nobody was going to tell me what to eat (except when I was dieting and handed my power over to the diet regime). The rebel hates authority and rules. The rebel wants to break free. The energy around rebellious eating is intense, urgent and reactive. Defiance on purpose!  When the rebel eats, it’s very much about making a bold statement. It’s a loud protest against restriction. Essentially the rebel feels starved of freedom and choice and the only way to be heard is to make a scene…

…who cares?

…!@$% it, I’ll eat it!

…what the heck!

The Victim

The Victim feels defeated and feels she’s been given a hard deal. Life is hard and unfair. Working long hours with no break. The victim will often blame herself or life by saying things like…

…I deserve this treat

…I’m rewarding myself with chips

…I’ve had such a bad day, I can eat cake

…I’ve worked so hard, I’m allowed to eat this

…why bother, I’ll just eat whatever.

The energy around this type of eating is driven by self-pity and deprivation. There’s a need for soothing and gratification.

None of these eating personalities serve us. They take away our power. They arise out of fear and deprivation. If we were not dieting or following food rules they probably wouldn’t feature in our lives. Thinking that we need to justify our eating behaviours is a symptom of diet mentality. Think about it. Why do we need to have suffered to justify eating cake or chips? Or why do we need to be good to reward ourselves with food? If we want the cake, we can just eat it and enjoy it. No explanation needed.

So how do we work skilfully with these personalities?

Ask yourself “who is eating now?”

Recognise and identify the personality. Once you have recognised, detach. This is not you, don’t identify with the voice. Observe. Be the observer of these characters, as if they are fighting on a playground. You can always get off the playground, by aligning yourself with your inner observer. You are not the Dictator, the Rebel or the Victim. You can become the calm presence that observes them. Invite a different character to the table. You could invite your Inner Nurturer to eat. She’s on your side, she cares about your wellbeing  and she doesn’t judge or berate you, she supports you in a compassionate and caring way.

The Dictator, the Rebel and the Victim will often trigger you to binge or overeat. Your observer self is not so triggering and if you invite your Inner Nurturer, she can calm everything down. Don’t try to resist the personalities, they’ll just get louder. They are our default survival mode, be curious about them. Tapping into your observer and Inner Nurturer can change the entire dynamic to one of peace. For readers who don’t struggle with food, you may recognise these personalities in other areas of your life.

May you be free from struggles with food.
May you find peace with food and your body.
May you be healthy and may you be well.

Love
Xen

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