Name Your Demons

When I started treatment for my eating disorder, they taught the idea of referring to your disorder as “ED” (eating disorder). At first I thought that was ridiculous, if I say that “ED made me do it” that’s almost like trying to claim zero responsibility on my part. But it’s so much deeper than that… when I started doing that I was more able to separate “ED” from “Jill”. The eating disordered brain is very much like separate personalities pulling you in different directions, all telling you different things that you should or should not be doing.

T-shirt that says 'I have multiple personalities, and none of them like you.'
But then I read a book about running, and the author talked about the inner self-critic that starts to talk to him… maybe when he has a tough run scheduled or just before a race. This critic tries to convince him he isn’t able to accomplish the things he wanted or isn’t strong enough to do the task at hand. And once this voice starts talking, it usually has a pretty convincing argument, thus he has defeated himself before he even got started. So he named this voice, simply giving the voice an identity separate from his own he was able to say, “I don’t think this, that’s just that jackass Bob” or whatever it was he named his inner critic.

He also decided to name the encouraging voice in his head, after one of his favorite coaches. It’s a little game, when Bob the critic chimes in, the coach has a counter argument to put into play. And since he respects the coach a lot more than the critic he was able to block the negative thoughts and perform to his full abilities.

One of my Team Challenge runners has made a joke on long run days, when things are feeling hard she’ll say, “It’s just Bertha dragging me down.” And when she’s feeling good, she says, “Lolo’s running with me today.” (Referring to the sprinter Lolo Jones) I love that she came up with that analogy all on her own, but it’s a great way to explain how she’s feeling without being negative on herself.

Yeah, it may sound a little cuckoo… but aren’t we all a little cuckoo? I know everybody experiences some amount of internal battling over various things. Why not stack the odds in your favor by trying some sports psychology tricks? It could just help you win the battle!

What tricks do you use when you start feeling down on yourself (in running or in life)?

T-shirt found on


  1. Wow, I really like that. I could have used that yesterday during my half marathon! I’ve personified roads before that have given me problems, why not the mental weakness/demons inside my head?

  2. I also like this idea. I know that I have a demon that kicks in around the 10th mile right now that tells me to stop and walk. I need to name him (why does it have to be a him?) and tell him to go away!

    • I’m not sure why it has to be a him… but I automatically thought of it as a him too! Although, maybe it could be a catty chick too. Perhaps they’re teaming up on me! 🙂

  3. i love this idea!! and i love the “lolo” for a good day. thanks for sharing this – i need to name my bad-running-devil asap! i automatically thought of it as a male too, haha. hmm, boys must just be bad news?

  4. I really liked this post. I constantly identify my eating disordered thoughts by the ED name. It works well for me. Never thought about giving a name to the healthy thoughts though or personifying my running critic. Hmmmmmmm. Great food for thought!

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