Quite some years ago, when I first started doing hypnotherapy and was working in a clinic, I had a client who wanted to lose weight. She was a lovely elderly woman in her mid-seventies with beautiful snow white hair, a bit plump but certainly not fat, and a smile that lit up the room. She made me think of Aunt Bea on Mayberry R.F.D.After two sessions over a two week span she had lost no weight and she was concerned that hypnosis was not helping her.
Doing the Joan Rivers, “Can we talk?” routine, I learned that her husband was very il – a fact that the screener had missed in the initial interview. Even though she had help, she was his primary care giver. They had been married for 51 years and were bound together by deep, loving ties. His illness was very difficult for her. She had a friend, however, who came every day for a couple of hours so my client could go to the mall and walk. (In Phoenix it’s too hot in the summer for an elderly person to go outside for a walk regardless of the time of day so we have a lot of “mall walkers.”) I asked her to tell me exactly what she did each day in this two hour space of free time.
“I just go to the mall and walk and then come home,” she answered me with all sincerity.
I asked her about her meals – she was eating exactly what she was supposed to be eating and nothing more, she reported. We went through a couple days menus and it sounded right.
So – back to the mall.
“Tell me again,” I urged. “Which entrance do you come in? How far to you walk? How long does that take you? Do you look in the store windows? What is your favorite store?” I queried. No clues.
“Are the stores open by the time you leave?”
“Yes,” she said with a smile.
“When you finish your walk what do you do?” “Well,” she said with a cute little smile, “I go to Godiva’s and buy a half pound of my favorite chocolates and sit on a bench to eat them.”The big “Aha!”
“Do you do this every day?” I questioned.
“Oh, yes. It’s my little reward,” she replied with all innocence, not making the connection between the half pound of chocolate candy and her lack of weight loss.As we talked more I learned that the chocolate was her comfort food that helped her get through the incredible stress of watching her beloved deteriorate right before her eyes. It was much more than food to her.
In actuality she was coming to the clinic to have someone she could talk to who would listen and understand. She didn’t really need to lose weight and it was an expensive way to have someone to listen to her. We talked about options and she realized she had several friends she could rely on for listening and for comfort that she had not considered. I convinced the clinic to refund her money and encouraged her to continue walking and enjoying her chocolate and her husband. She left with a lovely smile on her face. Every time I pass a Godiva’s store, I think fondly of this lovely lady.
She wasn’t aware of her deep need for comfort nor was she consciously aware of the fact that chocolate might tend to keep her from losing weight. And it really didn’t matter. Her mind had found a way to give her comfort and it helped her cope with the fact that her husband would soon die leaving her alone after all those 51 years. Some would argue that I should have insisted she stop eating the chocolates. I knew she needed the comfort and to deprive her of the treat would have left her “empty” in many ways.
We all need comfort at times and it is helpful if we can be aware of where we find this comfort. Some eat. Some drink, Some rage. Some worry. Some whine and complain. Some go into denial. Some declare that they don’t need anyone. Some become promiscuous. Some face it head on and say, I need comfort and what would comfort me now is ______________.
What about you? Where do you get comfort when times are hard? What kind of comfort sustains you on a regular basis?Is your source of comfort detrimental to you in any way? If so where can you find comfort that soothes you and at the same time supports you as a healthy, happy human being?Small children often carry their blanket for comfort. What about you? What helps you cope and gives you comfort?