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Archive for August, 2008

Procrastination

Overcoming difficult tasks. One of the primary coping strategies that all humans use from time to time is procrastination: The art of leaving to tomorrow what you could and possibly even “should” do today.  When we procrastinate every now and then with things that aren’t so big it has no harmful or lingering impact on our lives.  We’ve simply chosen to pick up the dry cleaning Friday rather than Thursday and it’s stuff we don’t need until Monday so no biggie.

 

However, those of us who use food to cope in any way also typically struggle with procrastination in a big way and that has a nasty impact on our overall sense of peace and trust in ourselves. This inevitably leads us to need to use food to cope even more to numb out or to feel that at least we’re on top of something.

 

The underlying triggers that cause us to reach for food to cope or to restrict set off a chain reaction that looks something like this:

 

  1. We feel unsafe or insecure about something in our lives – either because it’s new and different or because we’ve been told by others it can be difficult or we’ve tried it before and it was hard, or for some other reason altogether.
  2. We then tell ourselves a nasty story that it’s not going to go well or that we won’t be able to be successful.
  3. This story naturally triggers feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
  4. These feelings are so uncomfortable that they lead us to want to numb out or avoid this thing we’ve told ourselves won’t go well and we do that numbing out and avoiding by using food to cope in some way and by putting off any effort towards the thing that we’ve said won’t go well.
  5. Thus our stress level rises and we have even less chance of success, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and greater likelihood of procrastinating even more furiously next time around.

 

Not the most life-enhancing course of action when we’re coming from a rational and balanced mind.

 

But….it makes perfect sense when we really believe at our core that we are incapable; that we are not good enough; that we are undeserving of love and success and freedom and peace and all that we desire. From that standpoint it seems perfectly reasonable to assume we won’t be successful and to just give up before we even start.

 

Ironically this typically leads us to have to rush around at the last minute and stress ourselves out much much more than we needed to in order to complete whatever “it” is. Or we just get so overwhelmed and we buy so fully into the story that we can’t do it/won’t be successful that we don’t do “it” at all and then have to live with feelings of shame and guilt and embarrassment and all the self-judgment and the “I told you so’s” from within our own head and perhaps even from some key people in our lives.

Overcoming Difficult Tasks with Easy Ones – Procrastination

Procrastination is a killer of peace and of self-esteem and it’s also caused by a diminished sense of self-esteem and the nasty belief that: We just aren’t good enough and we never will be so there’s no point in even trying.

 

A great place to start to attend to our use of procrastination to cope is to notice that we’re procrastinating and to ask ourselves the following questions:

“What specifically am I telling myself about this thing/event/task that is leading me to procrastinate?”

“Is there any all or nothing thinking in that story?”

“What are some other possible ways that that thing/event/task could be handled or could turn out?”

“Could I allow myself to choose to believe and act on one of those other stories instead of the original, all or nothing, one?”

Give that a go and see what you discover about your thought processes and what happens to your use of procrastination to cope.

If you’re ready to break free of the cycle of procrastination and learn to meet new and old challenges from a place of excitement and self-confidence it’s time to contact The CEDRIC Centre and let us support you to be the best you can be in all ways.

Love M

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The Stages of Grieving

The following is a tale of a recent experience of grief in my life. It centres around a relationship but truly, the stages of grieving apply to any big change or loss. Even happy changes trigger a natural grieving process because as we are moving into something new (marriage, new home, new career) there are always people, places and things that are being left behind.

Being aware of the stages of grief can help us to more gracefully and lovingly let go and move on in the constant process of change that is life.

My story centres around my sweetheart and his decision to end our relationship due to a fairly major misunderstanding and some mutual, however unintended, button pushing.  His decision came as a total shock and in the following days I observed myself moving naturally through the stages of the grieving process. When I say naturally, I don’t mean it felt free and easy like natural eating does (eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full is a total breeze compared to the grieving process!), what I mean is that I wasn’t choosing to move from step to step. It was as though there was some natural, inner guidance system saying “Okay, you’ve had enough of that now, you’re ready to move on.” At which point the next stage would naturally arise.

In essense whatever stage of grief we’re at at any moment is a representation of how much consciousness we can handle at that time and how safe it feels to open our heart fully to ourselves, to the other person and to the experience at hand. We start out completely disconnected – in the stage of shock and move from stage to stage until we find ourselves in the open-hearted stage of acceptance.

As you read my experience below consider a time, in the distant or recent past when you’ve experienced a loss or big change in your life and notice how you went through the same stages to come to a place of acceptance.  Also, consider how the act of forever changing your relationship with food from a harmful coping strategy to a peaceful and natural flow is a big change that, however positive, has the potential to move us through each of the key stages of grieving until we not only come to a complete and total acceptance of ourselves but of how the use of food to cope has impacted our lives.  From this place of acceptance we are truly free to detach with love from our old buddy and move on to more healthy and honoring ways of being.

It’s all good!

When I heard that my love wanted to end things I immediately went into a state of shock which lasted about 2 days. I was in disbelief – complete and total disbelief. I kept expecting him to change his mind and at the same time, some deeper part of me believed he wouldn’t and that even if he did the trust and security of our relationship was deeply shaken, likely beyond repair. No matter how hard I tried to imagine ways that it could be different I had to accept that the relationship we had had was over.

I noticed my mind coming up with scenario after scenario of how I might have done things differently; how I might wrap my head and heart around a reconciliation should he be open to that; how I will navigate the future when the plans I had for who I was spending it with have abruptly and forever changed.

None of these musings made me feel any better. They answered no questions and changed nothing. They just preoccupied me and made me feel sad and anxious and down right crappy.

It was / is morbidly interesting to watch myself going through the stages of grieving, knowing what they are and what’s next and challenging myself to keep my heart open to myself and to the love I felt/feel for this man. Like watching a car crash in slo-mo – you know exactly what’s going to happen, you know it! But you keep hoping that somehow, some miracle will occur and the car won’t hit the wall, everyone will escape without a scratch and live to see another day.

So, any way….did I mention my mind has a tendency to wander these days!?

As I was saying, I started with Shock – that is the first stage of the grieving process.  Where you’re just in a state of disbelief – expecting the person to say “just kidding” or come waltzing through the door at any minute or that there’s some thing you could say or do that would make everything okay. That’s the stage of Shock. And that’s where I spent the first 2 days or so.  Yes, I felt sad but mostly I just couldn’t believe it and was fairly disconnected from my feelings – all but the feeling of anxiety – the “what if it’s really real?” feeling.

Well after day 2 the shock started to wear off and the next stage of recovery appeared – lucky moi!  Anger arrived with a vengeance.  I was still in my head, playing scenes over and over and over only this time I wasn’t calmly and rationally trying to explain why we should be together. I was yelling (in my head at least!) I was speaking in “the tone.” You know the tone! The one that lets everyone know that you mean business and they’d better listen up!

I played scenes in my head where I was picking apart his letter about why we weren’t a fit. I was picking him apart and naming, one by one, all the things I had been willing to just accept as part of the package that prove that I was the better person; better for loving him through all those things and seeing the big picture.  Better for not walking away; Better for holding fast to my commitment and being willing to commit my life to our growth together. (Yes, the anger stage can make us a tad victimy and self-righteous – not the most pleasant mix. Lucky for my friends I kept this mostly to myself!)

All the things I never said, the many times I held my tongue about his little idiosyncrasies;  I could feel the anger repeatedly rise in me and my almost overwhelming eagerness to call or email or write or ……..or……..or….something! I urgently wanted to release this pain and frustration and impotence.

What is there to do? I kept coming back to this. What is there to do?  I can be as hurt and angry as I like but it’s not my style for starters, and it’s not going to change anything.

If I have the choice to feel happy in every moment and to be coming from a place of love every moment do I really want to spend time in anger?  Do I really want to pick apart the man I love(d) and find fault with all the things that just a short while ago I was happy to love as part of the package?

No, not really.

And so enters the next stage of grief – Depression – This is when you’re all pooped out from the anger and the reality of the loss is setting in and you’re just flat.  Tired and flat. Yup, that how I felt. Blah, grey, dull, yada, yada, yada.

Somewhere, some part of me knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel and that I would not feel this way for ever but frankly, when you’re depressed, as many of you know, it doesn’t matter what might happen tomorrow or next year. You feel like crap now! You’re depressed and dark and blah now, as though a dark cloud is over your head or as though every where you go you’re wading through chest high water. It’s a labour just to be.

One day during the depression stage (short lived I am grateful to say) I thought I was going to lose it in the grocery store. The clerk at the deli took forever to slice the turkey and then forgot the roast beef altogether. These things wouldn’t have made me bat an eye or feel anything on a regular day but that day of depression they just about sent me into hysterics. I just couldn’t be out in society, carrying on as if everything was okay when it wasn’t and it wasn’t ever going to be okay again. Tears were so near the surface I swear if the check out girl dared to ask how my day was going, it was all over!

Voila, I had arrived at the next stage! Grief, sadness, what have you. This is where the tears really flow and you just let it out. The loss has finally hit home.

I was blessed to be with some dear friends who just held me as I cried and encouraged me to just let it out. They didn’t try to tell me it would all be all right or that things would work out etc. They just let me be where I was, in my sadness, with my loss.  My heart felt as though it was cracking right open and again, through it all, there was this inner sense that all is as it should be and that the greatest gift I could give myself was to just be with whatever I was feeling at that time.

Throughout these stages those stories kept popping up of what I could have done differently, what might happen in the future to change the situation etc. and each time I noticed I was in one of those stories I noticed that I was feeling very sad and anxious and I just invited myself to let it go.  My article on Hopelessness shares a bit about how I went about being here now even when here and now wasn’t the most happenin’ place to be ( http://www.cedriccentre.com/blog/?p=52 ).  Works like a hot damn – when you remember to do it!

Ah, then comes acceptance; Where you see that it’s all for the best. You see the gift in the pain; The good old silver lining and so on.

To be truthful – I haven’t made it here just yet. I’m still cycling around in the shock, anger, depression, sadness stuff; Which again, is a very normal part of the grieving process. But it’s getting lighter and easier and it is very early days. I know acceptance is just a week or two away – maybe sooner!  Meditation helps. Time with great friends talking about things other than my pain helps. Time with my son helps. And, you poor souls! Time writing blog articles helps – being creative, sharing helps.

My higher self asks: How does it help me to hang on and want things to be different?  It doesn’t really.

So, can I just allow myself to let go? Can I allow myself to let go of wanting to change the way things are as much as I do? Yes.  Can I allow myself to celebrate the gift of loving as much as I was blessed to do with this man? Yes.  Can I allow for the possibility that this loss is actually a blessing in disguise?  That, as with all previous traumas and losses something amazing in the way of growth and perspective and new people arrive in my life and things are better than I ever imagined? Yes.

And can I allow myself to just be here now, grieving this loss as much as I am? Yes. Feeling the fullness of my heart, my gratitude for the gift of loving this person, even for a short while? Yes.

Perhaps I am a little more in the acceptance than I thought?

Wahooo!

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Hopelessness

Hopelessness against the present moment. According to Buddhist thought it is hope that creates suffering for us all. Hope creates fear which is suffering.  Think about it for a moment. If you weren’t telling yourself that something in the future was going to change or that someone was going to change and therefore things in the future would be better what would you be feeling right now?

Truly.

Buddhist Nun, Pema Chodron writes, in her book “When Things Fall Apart:”

“Hope and fear come from the feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what’s going on, but that there’s something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.  We can know the nature of dislike, shame, and embarrassment and not believe there is something wrong with that.  We can drop the fundamental hope that there is a better “me” who will one day emerge.  We can’t just jump over ourselves as if we were not there. It’s better to take a straight look at all our hopes and fears. Then some kind of confidence in our sanity arises.  If hope and fear are two sides of one coin, so are hopelessness and confidence.  If we’re willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation.  This is the first step on the path.”

If I’m truthful with myself, when I am hoping for someone or something in the future that is not the way I want it now, or not in my life at all now, I feel anxious.  Perhaps I might define that anxiety as excitement, anticipation or hope but it all boils down to me feeling unsettled.  This means that as long as I am still “hoping” for something in the future to be different from what is now I need to find ways to deal with my anxiety, excitement, anticipation etc.

This is where my use of food and my negative body focus used to come in.  I would be thinking about what’s wrong with my life now and what I hoped would change and I’d feel naturally unhappy and unsettled and I’d want to distance myself from that discomfort. My coping strategies (my ways of distancing) of choice were food, negative self-talk, judgement and blaming of others, relationship addiction, co-dependency, all or nothing thinking and anger (irritation, resentment, annoyance etc.).

In my early 20’s I first stumbled upon the concept of “letting go.”  The premise that in accepting what is in this moment we free ourselves from the pain of wanting…longing and we create a genuine sense of happiness and peace at our core.  When we’re loathing what is it’s a pretty big challenge.

How can we authentically say to anyone we love our body or we love ourselves when we’re filled with judgement about what we’re not? Ahhhhhh, but that’s the answer. When we stop hoping for things to be different and we just see what is and accept what is right here and now we have immediately released the loathing and disgust and disappointment and shame and replaced it with love and compassion.

When we allow that we feel emotional pain when we want things to be different, and only then, it makes pretty good sense to let go of wanting things to be different.  That doesn’t mean nothing will ever change.  In fact, it opens the door for the greatest success.

How successful have you been so far with the Drill Sgt. motiviation through criticism approach? How effective has withholding love and acceptance from yourself until you’re “good enough” been for you?  Not so good I think – and it certainly has never ever worked for me.

Now, this concept of letting go of expectation, that interests me and resonates deeply.  When I let go of expectation I am not giving up on myself. I am instead, for the first time ever, making a loud and clear vote of confidence in myself. I can handle what comes. I don’t need to orchestrate every facet of the future. In truth I have no control anyway.

I’m far better off to spend my time here, now, appreciating the gifts in my life now even if they are sometimes hard to see through the many things that aren’t the way I want them to be.

Over the years of my growth I’ve gone from not being able to see anything good in myself and feeling entirely fraudulent and insecure to having many authentic experiences of confidence and security and seeing many good qualities and skills in me.  Still though I get caught up in wanting…..wanting something or someone (often me) to be different  or to feel or behave differently. The story is that if that happens I’ll finally be safe, I’ll finally find that elusive security.  Well, I’ve had enough relationship and life experience to know that security is elusive because the way I’ve been trying to make it manifest in my life doesn’t work.

Security doesn’t come from what you look like, who is in your life, how successful you are or how much money you have. It doesn’t come from where you live or where you vacation or what other people think of you. In other words, the things that I had always thought would bring me peace and that final big sigh of having arrived are just coping strategies. They’re just filler. They’re just things I’ve been doing or focussing on to take my mind off the fact that there is no “there.”

Peace and happiness are truly not contingent on what I look like, what I eat, whether I have a partner or not, whether I have professional success or not, etc.  Those things change, they are not stable or secure.  And the more I try to manipulate any of those facets of life to feel more secure and safe in my world the more anxious I become and the less happy and accepting I am in my life this moment.

Just stop for a moment and ask yourself has your happiness level increased or decreased the more you’ve tried to find happiness through manipulating your food or weight?

There were many times in my son’s early life that I was so very sad that his father and I weren’t able to make our relationship work that for a period of a few months I hardly really was present with my little guy. I mean I was there feeding him, bathing him, putting him to bed but I was so sad about what wasn’t there (ie. Dad) that I felt resentful at times rather than grateful to have Ben and just couldn’t really engage and celebrate him.  This to me is a perfect example of being so attached to hope that I couldn’t be here now, feeling the sadness and seeing it as part of the healthy process of life; the inherent insecurity in all things.  I was so caught up in wanting Ben’s dad and I to work out or wanting someone to complete my family that I couldn’t see that I had a family, it looked different from how I imagined it but it was a family and it was mine.  My attachment to how it had to look prevented me from seeing the gift of what was there.

I felt regret and some guilt when I started to realize how unavailable I had been for Ben during that time and I acknowledged that to him and to myself. And I committed myself to, from that day forth, being present with him and with whomever I’m with, wherever we are.

How often are you so focussed on what you weigh, how you look, what you’ve just eaten or what you’re wanting to eat that you don’t even celebrate who you’re with, what you’re doing, the health you have, the food you have access to etc. etc.?

How much happier and more peaceful and loving to yourself and others would you be if you just invited yourself to notice when you’re focussed on food and body image and acknowledged that you’re using a coping strategy because you’re telling yourself that there’s something wrong because you feel anxious.  What if you then said something like: “there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with me feeling anxious – I’m only anxious because I’m telling myself there’s something wrong with me or with my life. If I let go of that thought I’d lose the anxiety! Could I let go of the belief that I need to be any different or that anything in my life needs to be any different in order for me to be happy?”

Each time you pose that concept to yourself you are giving yourself a great gift. A gift of returning to the present. A gift of seeing what truly does create security in life: love and compassion for yourself.

Let us all commit to letting go of our attachment to the future and things being different or better there and instead allow ourselves to see what is working in this moment and know that in being here, now, we are setting the stage for things to unfold in the most peaceful and rewarding way possible and we’re awake and present for the whole journey!!

Have a lovely day and thanks for reading.

Love M

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Feedback Please

Your Feedback is Welcome and Important to Us

Please Send Me Your Feedback.

With all the new plans for CEDRIC (Web Program, new books and new web site) it’s imperative to me that I know what is working for you and what isn’t in terms of the support I offer you as a client and/or reader of the blog and newsletter.

I would greatly appreciate any feedback or suggestions you might have about how I could do what I do better.

What do I do well?

What do I do poorly?

What do you think I should change?

I ask you to ensure that your feedback is kind and constructive.

I cannot guarantee that I will implement all of your suggestions but I can assure you that I will welcome positive and constructive feedback as equal blessings.

Please send any thoughts, feedback, invitations for change to:

michelle@cedriccentre.com

Thank you in advance for any thing you share.

Love M.

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Speaking Your Truth

Speak the Truth Out of Love – A True Relationship

I think that what often happens when we begin to speak our truth is that the truth of the relationship we have with that person is revealed. We see three key pieces clearly for the first time:

 

1. How much co-dependency there is in our relationship with that person (ie. how much we feel responsible for their feelings and needs or vice versa);

2. How that person offers and receives feedback, ie. How they deal with respectful honest communication;

3. And what, overall, their ability and desire to be in a healthy interdependent relationship is at that time.

We also see what is still alive in us in the way of co-dependency, caretaking, lack of self-esteem and self-trust and self-care etc. etc. by how we do or don’t take on the other person’s reaction and by whether their reaction leads us to back down on our boundary (ie. to meet their needs at cost to ourselves – a co-dependent pattern) or to hold our ground in a way that is open to hearing the other person’s needs and perspective without immediately doubting and abandoning our own.I say, if you’re being respectfully (with your words, tone and body language) truthful about where you’re at and what you need and someone is reacting as though you’re rejecting them or doing something wrong it is simply an indicator that your truth doesn’t meet needs for them.

 

This is not necessarily a sign that the relationship can’t meet your needs for respect and intimacy in the long run or even in the next few minutes/hours/days.  That is up to the other person in terms of how they deal with their own feelings and needs and whether they are able to, with some time and space, see your point and work with you to a solution that meets your needs and theirs.  It is exceptionally rare that we are unable to find a way for us to get both of our needs met in a relationship. It may look different from how we initially thought (eg. I might not get my night to myself until Friday when I was hoping for Wednesday but if my need is for some time to myself without kids and partner and cats etc. I will get my need met.) This is how we discover whether the overall need of the other person is simply to control us or the relationship or if their need overall is to have a loving, respectful, mutually rewarding life-long connection. If you share a need with someone in a respectful way and get a strong resistant or critical reaction back it is for you to determine:

 

1. Whether you think this person is just surprised at your request and needs some time to see you setting boundaries in a healthy way and still being present and loving them and then they will ultimately feel safe to come around and join you in your new, more direct and open relationship;

 

2. Or whether you think the relationship has been one of the other person needing to control and have things their way, and now that you’re not into being controlled or at least, not into giving them their way at cost to you, they’re not interested in the relationship.

If it’s ‘2’ I say – good information for you to have now rather than later and time to step back. If the other person has a change of heart later on and comes around to a more mutual way of relating you can re-evaluate and decide if you want to give it another go. Otherwise, you’re wise to place your relationship focus on people who are willing to consider your needs as well as their own.

If it’s ‘1’ I say – yipee! Now your relationship with that person can begin in truth, in reality – the two of you can now connect with who the other person really is, what they really feel and what they really like and don’t like etc. and love all of that person. How beautiful and how freeing.

If you are challenging yourself to be more honest and direct with others either with the support of others or because you feel, in your heart, the rightness of speaking your truth, keep the following in mind:You deserve to be acknowledged for doing your very very best to be healthy and balanced and respectful to yourself and others in a world with many people who received the same confusing co-dependent training you did. I encourage you to trust your gut and know that someone’s discomfort or downright dissatisfaction with your behaviour is in no way an indicator that you’re doing anything wrong.  It’s simply that they believe that their needs will not get met if yours do. And their own all or nothing thinking makes it a contest for whose needs will get met rather than an interdependent, open, mutual meeting of everyone’s needs.

 

As long as you keep in mind that you’re not responsible for meeting someone else’s needs, it’s okay if they feel frustrated and resistant (you don’t have to stay in their presence while they’re exhibiting that resentment and frustration by the way, you can take some space and wait until they’re more grounded to return to the discussion) and it’s okay for you to have your needs met. It’s not all or nothing; it’s not either or. It’s your needs and their needs.

 

Love M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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