Cedric Centre for Counselling Inc.

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Archive for January, 2003

Humility and Recovery: How to Ask for Help

When to ask for help with eating disorders? I am a very proud person. I have always felt that I could do anything if I needed to, and that I could do it without anyone’s help. I am one of those people who never read the instructions because I think I should know how to do everything without having to learn first. This is because I can’t stand to admit that I don’t know how to do something and that I might have to ask for help. For me, asking for help is admitting that I am stupid, and that I should know better. I grew up being afraid that I would get in trouble for asking for help, and that if I did, I wouldn’t get it. This has resulted in my enormous pride.

This same pride is what drives my food obsession. I used food and dieting to cope with all the little things in life that I think I should be able to handle on my own. I ate because I felt tired, angry, sad, happy, confused, excited, or bored, and then I dieted to lose what I thought was excess weight. When that didn’t work as well as I thought it should, I ate to ease the loneliness, fatigue, and demoralization brought about by dieting. So, I had many solutions for all of life’s problems, and most of them involved turning to food or dieting. I created a little world in which I didn’t have to ask anyone for help, where I felt I was safe from judgment, and where I lived with the illusion that I was handling life. I asked the food or the diet for help every day, but the problem was, they didn’t help, so instead of admitting that I didn’t know what to do, I dieted more, I ate more, and the cycle continued.

Finally, I came to see that my “solution” was causing me more grief than it was helping me. I was eating more and more, and dieting less and less. I didn’t have the energy to exercise compulsively anymore, and even the food, that old, comfortable solution, was turning on me. Eating to feel better only made me feel worse.

This is where pride comes in and challenges me in recovery. I find it discouraging to admit that my coping mechanisms aren’t working. Aren’t I supposed to be an independent, self-sufficient, intelligent young woman? How can I live down the shame of admitting that I don’t know how to cope with life? If all my efforts to cope are useless, what do I do now? What if I don’t get the help I think I need?

In my experience with meditation and breath work, I have learned that admitting I don’t know what to do isn’t the horrible place I think it is, it is in fact a starting point for change. Once I accept that I don’t know how to deal with life’s ups and downs on my own, I open the door to learning. Once I admitted that dieting and bingeing weren’t working anymore, I could finally let go of my pride and ask for help. I had to be desparate enough to face the anxiety.

Now, when I am struggling with a situation, which I often do, I need to get to a place where I can see that all my attempts to solve the problem, to fix or control whatever is unacceptable to me, are no longer working. At this stage in my recovery, my tolerance for frustration has become significantly lower, so I don’t have to be as desparate as I used to be to look outside of myself for a solution. But no matter what, I need to see that my way isn’t working before I turn to the breath and the practice for help. Then, I can sit and get quiet with what is going on. Being still allows me to stop trying so hard to fix myself, the problem, or other people. Instead, I let the breath guide me to a place of peace and acceptance. But first, I have to let all my pride go. I have to accept that I sometimes I am unwilling to accept. This, in my experience, is humility, the acceptance that I can’t fix anything, that I need help, and that the solution will be just what I need.

That source of help is found within me, deep down in my belly, and I get there by focusing on the breath and my centre. Once I allow my attention to rest there, and not fixate on the problem, the fear, anger, and pride that grip me as I let go of the need to control slowly release, and I am able to accept that there is another way. Sometimes I am inspired to take a whole new course of action, sometimes I am moved to do nothing, but more importantly, no matter what the outcome, I have simply become aware of all the fear that lies at the source of my compulsiveness with food, dieting, and life. I see that my pride is really the fear that I will not be OK, and that if I don’t take control and make sure things turn out the way I think they should, I will be abandoned and forgotten. With that awareness, I am able to accept that I need compassion and acceptance more than I need to look like I know the answer.

 

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How to Work the Coping Strategy Flow Chart ©

by Michelle Morand, MA RCC, Founder and Director of The Centre

One of the key tools that allows my clients to rapidly get where they want to go in their recovery process is what I call "The Coping Strategy Flow Chart" (csfc for short)- fancy name I know, and it’s the basis of all the work I do and of my own personal philosophy of life.

In essence, the csfc allows us to remind ourselves at a glance that all thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are not leading us to a peaceful state in the moment are merely coping strategies.

They are thoughts, feelings, or behaviours that are designed to either: alert us to needs that aren’t being met in that moment; or to protect us from the awareness that we have needs that aren’t being met. We particularly use the last option if we carry a belief that we are undeserving or unworthy or incapable of getting what we need. It’s too painful from that perspective to be conscious that we have a need that isn’t getting met when at a gut level we believe there’s no way to meet it. So we keep ourselves in the dark through the use of a variety of coping strategies such as old core beliefs (a thought level coping strategy); bad body thoughts (another thought level coping strategy); anxiety, depression, anger; sadness (all feeling level coping strategies); and binging, purging, restricting and isolating (all behavioural level coping strategies).

These coping strategy thoughts, feelings and behaviours allow us to be unaware that we even have a need let alone be conscious of what it might be, and for those of us who believe we’re undeserving or not good enough to have a need met by ourselves or others, being unconscious feels like the safest place to be.

The problem with this way of living is that, because our underlying needs never get met, and because we keep using harmful coping strategies to keep us tuned out to the fact that we even have needs, we continue daily to add to the mountain of unfinished business and unmet needs that leads us to need to use food and bad body thoughts and depression to cope. And so we go round and round in circles thinking less of ourselves, feeling more depressed and hopeless, and harming ourselves with food when each of those things is really just a coping strategy and never was the real problem. And the solution to this big mess is a lot simpler than you’d imagine.

  1. Recognize when you’re using one of your primary coping strategies
  2. Name it as a coping strategy (ie. Rather than just letting a bad body thought sit – say "this is one of my main coping strategies – this means I have needs that aren’t being met.")
  3. Acknowledge that your use of the coping strategy means that you have needs that aren’t being met.
  4. Get out your needs list (e-mail us for copies if you’re without) and identify the need(s) you have in that moment that aren’t being met
  5. Take steps to meet those needs yourself or to ask someone to support you in the meeting of those needs.

That’s it – That’s the framework for the entire recovery process. Once you’ve proven to yourself (don’t just take my word for it) that your focus on food and body image are just coping strategies it will immediately lose so much of its charge and you’ll be able to focus on the underlying triggers – those unmet needs and how to meet them. When it all comes down to it, that is the real issue. Those underlying needs, that you didn’t know how to meet way back when and that created overwhelming feelings and thoughts, led you to use food and body image focus to cope with life. Now, if you’re ready to reclaim your life, to live YOUR life and no one else’s, you can do so by learning to identify your needs in the moment and learn some simple, life enhancing ways of meeting those needs.

If you want to check this out for yourself, pick one of your primary coping strategies (ie. Use of food to cope or bad body thoughts) and invite yourself to be on the look out for when you use it. When you catch yourself using it at any time over the next month run through steps one – five above and see what happens.

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Where to Draw the Line

Written by Anne Katherine, MA
Reviewed by Virginia Preston

I’ve recently read a great book and I must share. It’s called ‘Where to Draw the Line’ by Anne Katherine, MA, the author of another very helpful read called ‘Boundaries’. She’s a one-woman tour-de-force in the boundaries department, and has made this topic a central focus in her work as a mental health counselor, speaker and writer. And, truthfully, I’m glad someone is an ‘expert’ in this area because I have found the subject utterly confounding at times.

The term ‘boundaries’ is a much-loved catch phrase in modern therapeutic circles and a matter of on-going debate in spiritual ones. The need for self-protection that personal boundaries provide seems critical in any recovery process, and certainly in the pursuit of living a healthy life in general. And yet I often feel somewhat murky in my sense of being able to identify these illusive boundaries for myself. Then there’s the added confusion of the writings of some spiritual teachers and masters of our time that speak about the need to dissolve the false ego boundaries that we believe separate us from our fellow human and rest peacefully in the ‘Oneness’ of all that is. Hmmm. Ok, Note to Self: Identify and enforce personal boundaries, then dissolve boundaries and bask in Divine Union with all my fellow brothers and sisters. (ps. Have the spiritually-enlightened minds of our time ridden on public transit at rush hour lately?)

All joking aside, these seem to be very conflicted messages and for those of us who enjoy a little more clarity (read: a detailed and precise road map!) on our path to self-actualization, this does not sit well. Fortunately, I believe I have made a bit of a breakthrough in my comprehension of this dichotomy of late. When I get to that place in my conceptual understanding of new life skills that looks something like this.’What the #$%&* does THAT mean?!.!’ – I remind myself to get out of my dualistic, black-and- white thinking mode for a moment and consider the ‘Both-And’ approach. This understanding of the universe promotes an inclusive model of existence where there is space for both to be true, and then a whole bunch of other stuff, too. And then my strained brain can relax, and I can set about the sometimes uncertain and slightly anxiety producing task of boundary setting, feeling assured that doing so does not preclude my entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven . Nor does it hinder my plans to become an enlightened being in this lifetime. Excellent.

Anne Katherine does a great job of breaking down the topic of boundaries into easily readable sections and has a chapter for most every type of daily situation that might require the use of a boundary. Seriously. Everything from managing your time, to setting boundaries with parents, to navigating holiday obligations and much more. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on communication and anger boundaries. She presents some very empowering information in the section on boundary violations. She also speaks to the tendency that women have to give more when their needs aren’t being met, or their boundaries violated, in a misguided attempt to ‘earn’ the right to be respected. She firmly denounces this strategy and invites women to advocate for themselves first. Basically, she’s very clear that other people’s crappy behavior need not be your problem.

All things considered, a very useful, down-to-earth and relevant guide for the boundary-setters everywhere, regardless of experience level. I highly recommend it. The book ‘Where to Draw the Line – How to Set Healthy Boundaries Everyday’ is available at Chapters.

On a personal note, I am pleased to report that since reading this little gem all sorts of opportunities of test out my newfound knowledge have come my way. Of course.

And, I must say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised to experience an increased sense of clarity and purposefulness in navigating these situations. Perhaps there’s hope for the boundary-challenged among us after all.

 

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White Listing CEDRIC Centre

What is White listing?

White listing is one of many steps that we take to get your messages to your subscribers. You don’t need to whitelist your address or IP with ISPs – you’re covered by our whitelisting.

User-Level White listing

In an effort to ensure that you receive messages successfully from The CEDRIC Centre, we suggest that you try white listing us, meaning you simply have to add our address to your list of safe contacts, so we don’t end up in your junk folder.

 

To help guide you, here are examples of how to whitelist addresses in different email programs:

Outlook

To add an address or domain to Safe Senders in Outlook:

  • Select Actions | Junk E-mail | Junk E-mail Options… from the menu in Outlook.
  • Go to the Safe Senders tab.
  • Click Add….
  • Type our email address mmorand@cedriccentre.com or our domain name, cedriccentre.com you want to white list.
  • Click OK.
  • Click OK again.

Mozilla Thunderbird

You will need to add our From address, mmorand@cedriccentre.com, to your Thunderbird Address Book and configure your  Junk Mail Controls to white list your address book.

Add our From address into your Personal Address Book:

  1. Click the Address Book button.
  2. Make sure the Personal Address Book is highlighted.
  3. Click the New Card button. This will launch a New Card window that has 3 tabs: Contact, Address & Other.
  4. Under the Contact tab, copy and paste our email address, mmorand@cedriccentre.com into the Email dialog box.
  5. Click OK.

You can also right-click any email address you see in Thunderbird and select Add to Address Book.

Now white list your Personal Address Book:

  1. From the main drop down menu, select Tools -> Junk Mail Controls..
  2. This will launch the Junk Mail Controls window that has two tabs: Settings and Adaptive Filter
  3. Under the Settings tab, update the White Lists module by selecting Personal Address Book from the pull down menu and then check mark the box next to Do not mark messages as junk mail.
  4. Click OK.

Yahoo Mail (New Version)

Users of the new Yahoo Mail should create a filter.

Yahoo currently redirects you to the old Yahoo Mail interface to set up the filter, but in the future should integrate the Add Filter page directly into the new interface.

Hotmail

You will need to add our email address, mmorand@cedriccentre.com, to your Hotmail Safe List:

  • Click the Options link on the right side of the interface.
  • Choose Mail from the left side of the Options page.
  • Click Junk E-Mail Protection.
  • Click Safe List.
  • Type mmorand@cedriccentre.com into the box and click Add.

Windows Live Hotmail

Not surprisingly, Windows Live Hotmail works similarly to the old Hotmail:

  • Click the Options link at right and choose More Options from the dropdown.
  • Choose Allowed and Blocked Senders.
  • Click Allowed Senders.
  • Type mmorand@cedriccentre.com and click Add to List.

GMail

GMail will automatically deliver mail from your Contacts list to your inbox.

To add a contact:

  • Click the Contacts link at left.
  • Near the top of the page click Create Contact.
  • Enter the The CEDRIC Centre and mmorand@cedriccentre.com, and click Save.

AOL Webmail

AOL has a Custom Sender List that you can specify.

However, to use the Custom Sender List, you must choose to accept mail ONLY from your custom senders, or to reject mail ONLY from your custom senders.

So, you need to make sure that you are set to receive mail from All Senders:

  • Click the Settings link at the top of the page.
  • Choose Spam Controls from the options at left.
  • Under Additional Spam Filters click Control From Whom I Get Email.
  • A popup appears – choose the first option Allow mail from all senders.
  • Click the green Save button.

If you are already using a Custom Sender list to define who can mail to you, please make sure you add our email address, mmorand@cedriccentre.com to it.

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