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Saying Yes When You Really Mean No

Abstract: Am I too amenable and accomodating, saying yes when I really mean no?

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Saying Yes When You Really Mean No

Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question  Local help Info

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Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 17 Aug 2008.

I have been a compulsive eater for many years, but I have now decided to stop. For almost two weeks it has gone very well. This evening however, I sat here and felt awful and sad. It all began at 3 p.m. today. Peter arrived here to have coffee with me; he was formerly my workmate. I don't know him very well. I thought it was a totally pointless visit as I don't get anything out of talking to him. I don't know whether I sense that Peter is interested in me, but I am not at all interested in him.

Then I went to visit my mother who has recently had an operation and been unable to work, which she finds boring and depressing. I became terribly hungry when I was there and ate cottage cheese and yoghurt. In the evening I had arranged to meet my friend James in town. I felt very restless and worried and a longing for goodies came irresistibly over me. I tried to lie down and relax, but couldn't, perhaps because my mother was sitting here. I told her that I could just as well go into town earlier and look at the shops. I knew that this time I wouldn't be able to stop my gluttony, but I said goodbye and left. On the way I went into a shop and bought biscuits, a packet of cookies, half a kilo of small goodies, mainly chocolate and much more. I ate them all up on the way into town and when I got there I didn't feel well. I was sad and wasn't keen on meeting James. (Both James and Peter are only friends for me, I am not interested in them as boyfriends).

James didn't come; actually I only waited for a few minutes and then went. He phoned just now; he had been standing on the other side and we missed each other, but we shall try again next week. On the way home I intended to buy my favourite salad, but I bought two double hamburgers instead!

My question is: Why just today? My situation is the same as yesterday when I didn't binge. Whatever it is I intend to struggle and not give up.

Susanne (age 22)


If you say yes when you mean no, you will binge. You talked to Peter for a long time even though you thought the visit was pointless and you got nothing out of it. Perhaps you also had guilt feelings because you don't like him, but you feel that he likes you.

I think you try to be pleasant and kind to everybody. This means that you probably suppress feelings which you think are unsuitable. Today I believe you wanted to ask Peter to go at once, but you felt you couldn't do it. Perhaps you were unconsciously angry at being compelled to keep company which you felt was pointless. I also believe that you thought it was boring to be with your mother when she was ill and depressed, but you couldn't admit it even to yourself. If you are going to come to terms with your binge eating it is necessary for you to begin to feel and admit your real feelings and take the consequences. This doesn't mean that you need to be unkind, but that you learn to speak your mind in a friendly way. Why keep company with Peter if you aren't happy with him? Give him a chance to meet another girl. Concerning your relation to your mother, it is important that you admit and accept your real feelings for her.

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