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Archive for January, 2010

Before You Have “THE” Conversation, Try This

thinkingFunny thing about last week’s article: I had at least 10 people mention over this past week that they really appreciated that article and felt certain I had written the article on “THE” conversation in response to something that was going on for them personally that they had shared with me. Now, for the record, clients do give me permission to share, anonymously, certain aspects of our work together for educational purposes, but, the truth is, this issue is so incredibly prevalent and key to your healing from emotional eating that it really does pertain to everyone I’ve ever worked with and wasn’t specific to anyone.

Kind of like that article I wrote awhile back on needs which similarly hit home with everyone. Communication issues and our own confused training in relationships really does pertain to us all until we learn to honor ourselves, respect our needs, and ask directly and respectfully for what we need.

This week’s article takes off where last week’s left off. We are going to take a brief look at how to most effectively approach a conversation around a sensitive issue with someone.  When I say “sensitive,” I mean an issue that makes you feel a little uneasy, anxious or resistant when you think about bringing it up. It may be that it makes you feel uneasy because of your part in it or because of what it is you imagine the other person will feel or think about you when you bring the issue up.

The first thing to do when you’re thinking about talking to someone about something that has any emotional charge for you at all (or that you think might be sensitive for them) is to sit down, alone, and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is your intention in speaking with the person about this issue?
  2. What are you trying to achieve in speaking with them about this issue? (often the same answer as above but not always)
  3. What do you want to get out of the conversation? Ie. What would you need to hear/share/experience in that conversation that would make you feel it had been a success?
  4. How do you want to feel when you leave the conversation?
  5. What do you need to say and how do you need to say it and what do you need to hear from them in order to feel that way when you leave the conversation?
  6. What kind of timeline would you want to place on the conclusion of the issue? Ie. How long can you comfortably wait for this person to follow through on what you’re asking for? You must communicate that key piece of information to this person and ask for their agreement on this timeline as well. This is key for both of you to have great clarity on how and when you will assess whether anything has changed; ie. whether your needs have been met and you can therefore let the issue drop completely, forever.

Make notes of these key pieces and take them with you when you speak to this person. Refer to them and challenge yourself to cover all key points before you leave the conversation. If anything seems to be going at all awry or you lose your place just ask yourself questions 4 and 5 again:

How do you want to feel when you leave this conversation and what needs to happen/what do you need to hear or experience with this person in order to feel that way?  That is your grounding and centering piece.

Now, before you get to “THE” Conversation with someone, there is a very interesting phenomenon you will notice when you just sit down to consider these questions before you speak with them: Often just sitting down to reflect on those questions helps you to see something that, if you’re at all interested in not taking full responsibility for your actions and for your life, will really irritate you.

Often in just sitting to reflect on what message you’d like to convey, how specifically you would word it, and what specifically you want to get out of that conversation, you will discover that the issue isn’t really theirs, it’s yours. And usually, though certainly not always, it pertains to your own old-life training to not ask directly for what you need; to not let yourself be vulnerable by exposing that you even have a need; or to not be “selfish” or to burden others in any way.

What I’m saying is that usually, regardless of how things appear at first glance, the majority of our stress in relationship with others exists not because of anything that’s actually happening between us and another person, but because of the old stories and patterns of behaving that we carry within ourselves that have prevented us from either taking action ourselves to meet our needs and/or from communicating earlier, when we first began to feel a little hurt/annoyed/frustrated/resentful/sad/lonely/insignificant/disrespected, etc. with that person.

Our story that we can’t possibly say or do anything that might upset, irritate, or hurt anyone or call any attention to their “imperfection” is really only our own inner co-dependent training that says:

If anyone feels anything other than happy, it’s your fault and you are bad and wrong and unlovable for “making” them feel that way.

Yup, that’ll do it! That childhood training; that old bogus story will shut you down and leave you feeling completely powerless in your relationships every time.

Unfortunately, not only is it completely not true in any way now – it never was – yes, I mean it, it never ever, ever, ever was true. You have never been and never will be responsible for another person’s feelings (barring dependent children, of course). Your complete healing and recovery from emotional eating or restriction and from any unfulfilling jobs, relationships, or self-care, demands that you not only cognitively get this message but that you begin to get it on a gut level; that you begin to trust it, to know it and to embody it in your actions.

The world becomes a completely different place when you make this shift. (Recall the article from a few weeks ago on ELOC vs. ILOC).

Once you sit down and reflect on the questions above and see what’s really up for you and find yourself getting clear on what you want from that person usually you’ll find that what you really want from them or need from them is some reassurance and understanding as you make some changes to your own, perhaps freshly realized, contribution to the dynamic you two share.

You might say:

“This is what I’ve noticed in myself…here’s what I’m planning to do about it…and here’s how you can help me if you’re willing…”

Often your own awareness of what your own contribution to the dynamic has been (which will come about simply by sitting down to ask yourself the questions above) makes it so you are truly comfortable with the choice to not address it with them for now (as opposed to just avoiding bringing it up); make some changes to your own contribution to the dynamic, and see after that, whether you still feel the need to bring it up to them more directly.

Next week we’ll talk about what to do when you’ve done the above piece and, after attending to your own piece of the puzzle, feel that you need to address the other person’s role and ask for a change in their behaviour towards you or towards the situation.

For this week think of someone that fits the “I need to have “THE” conversation” bill and take 5 minutes to ask yourself the questions above. Please email me what you come up with! I’d love to see what you notice and discover about yourself and about how to proceed then.

You might find you recognize that you are playing a role in this dynamic but don’t know what to do on your end to change your part of the dance. That’s what I’m here for!

See you next week.

Love

michelle-signature

Whether you prefer one-on-one counselling (in-person, by phone, or email), our intensive and transformative workshops, the self-help approach with the book, or our Food is Not the Problem Online Membership Program, take action today to have a stress-free relationship with food. Sign up for our free newsletter today (see the left top side of your screen). Newsletter subscribers receive exclusive product discounts and are first in line to get on all the latest new at CEDRIC.

Posted in: 2010, CEDRIC Centre, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self

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Social Isolation and Withdrawal

socialisolationExcerpt from the book Food is Not the Problem: Deal With What Is!

Social Isolation – Why Do I Do It?

First, let’s explore what leads you to isolate yourself. In short, it’s all about how much you trust yourself to set boundaries and to only engage in relationships which are healthful and supportive of you. The degree to which you doubt your ability to assert your needs will be the degree to which you isolate. In other words, if you don’t trust yourself to say no to others, you will likely refrain from much social interaction, or you will find yourself overloaded with social commitments which are unrewarding and lack depth. You may not even be conscious that this is what motivates you to distance yourself from others. Your Drill Sgt. may have tried to explain your behaviour through his old core-belief perspective, telling you all sorts of stories about how weird and unlikable you are; how no one really cares whether you are around or not; how people are only going to judge you; and how unattractive or unintelligent you are if you go out. None of this is at all true. It’s just more of that coping strategy of negative core beliefs and bad body thoughts kicking in. And you know that this is just an indication of unmet needs for security and acceptance.

As you begin to hone your skill of identifying the unmet needs that drive your coping behaviour, you will be presented with many opportunities, big and small, to strengthen your trust in yourself and create more security by validating your needs, setting clear boundaries, and proving how effectively you can care for yourself. It is likely that at the start of this new way of looking out for yourself you will notice yourself feeling anxious and resistant. There are two key pieces at play here:

1. Somehow, your Authentic Self and not your Nurturing Parent is front and centre trying to navigate this new terrain on her own. This is dangerous, because your Authentic Self is still very young and still needs a lot of reassurance and support to behave in a new way and not buy into those old core beliefs. She does not have the capacity to rationalize and empthasize in the way the Nurturing Parent does. She must not be made to handle scary and stressful situations such as boundary setting. You wouldn’t make a five-year-old child go on his own to confront someone about security or approval needs that aren’t being met, so you can’t expect your Authentic Self to have the courage and ability to do so either.

2. Your Drill Sgt. senses the insecurity, fear, and doubt of the Authentic Self and is doing his “motivation through criticism” to try and get you back into a “safe” and familiar place. You will likely hear the Drill Sgt. insisting that your needs are not valid or important. You may be aware of him calling you names, such as, weak, needy, when you are experimenting with acknowledging your feelings and needs to others. I encourage you to acknowledge the Drill Sgt.’s comments and then, as we have discussed, ask him what his intent is. Remember: seek to understand.

The solution? Notice the distress and resistance about boundary setting, and call forth your Adult Nurturing Parent. The Nurturing Parent can then reassure the Authentic Self that her feelings and needs are valid; that she has a right to ask for what she needs and that they, the Nurturing Parent, will take over from here. “Try the hand-on-the-tummy thing here. It really does help to ground you and establish a stronger sense of connection between your Parent and Authentic Self).

Whether you prefer one-on-one counselling (in-person, by phone, or email), our intensive and transformative workshops, the self-help approach with the book, or our Food is Not the Problem Online Membership Program, take action today to have a stress-free relationship with food. Sign up for our free newsletter today (see the left top side of your screen). Newsletter subscribers receive exclusive product discounts and are first in line to get on all the latest new at CEDRIC.

Posted in: 2010, CEDRIC Centre, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self

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How to Avoid Having “THE” Conversation

conversationOkay, for starters, we all know intuitively what “THE” Conversation means. It’s that big, heavy, sit-down convo that you avoid like the plague. You’ll try every other angle to get the point across and get your needs met before having “the” conversation, and if they all fail you might still not actually do the deed.

If you’re anything like most folks who use food to cope or other harmful coping strategies, before you actually approach someone directly about an issue you’re having with them, you’ll try:

  • Hinting about what you want;
  • Making jokes;
  • Using sarcasm;
  • Talking to others in the loop about it, in the hopes that they will have “the” conversation or that at least it will get back to that person how you’re feeling and you won’t have to tell them yourself;
  • Avoiding the person;
  • Using body language like eye rolls or lack-of -eye contact, and crossed arms to let the person know you’re not a fan of something that they are doing;
  • The silent treatment (simply ignoring them);
  • Using a particular tone with them designed to get them to ask, “What’s up? Have I done something?” Depending on the issue, the tone may range from disappointed, to frustrated, to downright contemptuous.

The only problem is, all of these techniques will fail if the other person is either unwilling to accept responsibility for their behaviour or if they just don’t know that they are doing something to upset or offend you. Unfortunately, this is usually the case.

That’s because people typically don’t engage in behaviours that they know consciously offend or upset other people. Don’t get me wrong. People definitely do play head games at times but usually that behaviour is pretty easy to spot, and I do believe that those folks that are intentionally messing with our minds are fewer and farther between than you may imagine.

The truth is, the person who is frustrating you or hurting your feelings or downright scaring you with their behaviour or demeanor, is very likely completely unaware that they are having that impact. They are very likely working from a perception of themselves that puts their behaviour in the best light, where, at least to them, it makes perfect sense and is completely acceptable.

So, imagine their shock when you sit down with them and have “THE” convo! If you’ve tried the techniques listed above to try and give them the message prior to “the” conversation, you are likely to be sitting across from someone who is less than comfortable with you because you’ve been behaving a little weird or downright standoffishly, but they don’t know why. You’re also far more likely to elicit a defensive reaction (a closed mind or an angry retort) when the person is, in their mind, hearing about your problem with them for the first time in a fairly intense way.

From your perspective in this situation, you’ve tried to give them the message, they haven’t got it, so you have to have the big sit-down. From your perspective you may be sad or feel hard-done-by should the recipient of “THE” conversation not appreciate your “patience”, “maturity”, and overall intention (to avoid conflict at all costs and to not upset the other person) and instead become angry and defensive.

This dynamic is the reason that most people avoid “THE” conversation like the plague. It’s not that sitting down with someone to resolve issues is actually that big a deal when certain basic steps are followed, it’s just that most people who use food to cope are scared to death of letting anyone know that they have a need and so resist or avoid taking care of issues as they arise in favour of the magical thinking that, if they wait long enough, they may just…..go away.  And often they’re scared to admit to having needs because they carry that old, annoying co-dependent training that says:

  • You are responsible for everyone else’s feelings and needs;
  • You are needy if you have needs;
  • You are only allowed to take care of yourself when everyone else is happy;
  • If someone is at all unhappy or even has the potential to be at all unhappy it’s because you’ve done something bad or wrong and that makes you a bad person.

Well, actually, none of those stories are true. That training is a pile of phooey folks. Trust me!

Now, just imagine, sitting down to have “THE” conversation with someone when you’re coming from an adult, interdependent mindset that doesn’t believe those ridiculous stories, but instead believes:

  • You have a right to be treated with dignity and respect;
  • You are not responsible for others feelings and needs, you are only responsible for your own;
  • You have a responsibility, not just a right, to meet your own needs in all areas of your life;
  • You are “allowed” to ask for what you need and that does not make you at all bad or wrong or “needy.” In fact, a healthy, interdependent relationship demands that you communicate clearly about what you feel and what you need;
  • You have the tools you need to respectfully communicate to the other person involved what you need and how they can help meet that need if they are willing;
  • You know, in your heart, that if someone is unwilling or resistant to meeting, or even acknowledging your need, it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you or your request, it only means that it doesn’t meet needs for them to meet your need;
  • You trust yourself to get your need met. As such, you have the space within you and within “THE” conversation to ask questions and to really listen to the other person’s perspective. You trust that you will not be overrun by guilt, blame, shame or anger but that you will hold steady, with grace and dignity, and that ultimately, you will find a way to have your need met, even if that means, as a last-ditch effort, leaving the relationship.

If you trusted in yourself to truly feel, think, and behave as listed above, how do you think you’d feel as you approached “THE” big conversation? Would it even feel like a big conversation? Would it have the same freaky connotations of failure, neediness and inviting anger and judgement?  Not likely.

Rather, it’s far more likely that you would have spoken to this person in more direct and clear ways about the issue as it arose in relationship between you long before it ever got to the need for “THE” conversation. Chances are your sense of deservedness of healthy relationships and respectful interactions would have led you to simply and briefly speak to that person about their behaviour and its impact on your sense of trust, safety and respect with them the first time you felt a little uncomfortable with something they said or did, rather than waiting until you just couldn’t stand it anymore and were about to burst with frustration or walk away from the relationship.

From that approach, your energy approaching a conversation is much lighter and usually more readily received by the other person. Remember, usually people have no clue that they’re doing something that is upsetting you. And if they do have clue that you’re a bit miffed about something, they usually don’t know specifically what to do differently to make you “un-miffed.”

You are responsible for communicating to others about what you feel and what you need and about how the people in your life can meet your needs if they are willing. When you communicate directly and clearly about what you need you give others a chance to show you whether they are able and/or willing to meet your needs. This gives you direct and immediate feedback as to how much you can safely rely on this person and therefore whether they can be a dear and trusted friend, an acquaintance, or someone you keep at a good solid distance.

There is much more to say on this topic so tune in next week for more about communication and some tips for attending to things before they get to the point where it feels like “THE” conversation is the only solution. Sometimes, no matter how well you handle something you still need to have “THE” conversation. But it’s much easier to approach it from a place of peace and security when you know you’ve done your due diligence and given the other person many reasonable opportunities to meet your needs.

For this week, just notice where and with whom you’ve been avoiding having “THE” conversation and take a moment to ask yourself why. What are you telling yourself will happen?  Have you done your best to respectfully and clearly let that person know what you need and how, specifically, they could meet that need?

Challenge yourself to approach your conversations and interactions with others this week from the adult interdependent mindset and just see what a phenomenal difference it makes!

Have a fabulous week!

Love

michelle-signature

Whether you prefer one-on-one counselling (in-person, by phone, or email), our intensive and transformative workshops, the self-help approach with my book, or our Food is Not the Problem Online Membership Program, take action today to have a stress-free relationship with food. Sign up for our free newsletter today (see the left top side of your screen). Newsletter subscribers receive exclusive product discounts and are first in line to get on all the latest new at CEDRIC.

Posted in: 2010, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self

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The Self-Esteem Brownie Recipe

The Self-Esteem Brownie Recipe

Forget about edible brownies! Try The Self-Esteem Brownie Recipe and see how quickly the way you think about yourself and the way you relate to others in the world changes. It makes the world a much tastier place to be!

For starters you have to be willing to acknowledge that your stress about food or drinking or drugs or gambling or that relationship you just can seem to get over, or out of, is not about that. You must be at least open to the possibility that your stress about those things, while in part impacted by those obvious triggers, is actually about the way you are thinking about yourself and about your place in the world. If you are open to that possibility, try the self-esteem brownie recipe and prove it to yourself. Then sit back and watch as your world simply changes for the better and you feel more peaceful and confident than you ever imagined.

Once you are able to recognize that any energy around food that isn’t peaceful is simply an indicator that you’re feeling unsettled about something (or a number of things) and you’ve just kicked over your manageable stress threshold into maxed out, needing-food-to-cope land, then your automatic default will no longer be to get hooked and ride the train of food focus and self-flagellation, instead, your reaction will be empathy and compassion.  You will stop. You will breathe. You will say:

“Wait, I’m getting hooked into food focus here that isn’t feeling peaceful or good. That means I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed about something. What was I just thinking/what just happened that might have triggered me to feel at all anxious/unsettled/…pressured? And what am I telling myself that means? And was there any all-or-nothing thinking in that thought? If so, how else could it possibly go? And do I think that outcome is equally or more likely?”

There’s your recipe. It’ll make a perfect batch of self-esteem brownies every time!

Write out your answers to those questions whenever you notice you’re feeling anxious or thinking about using your coping strategy (binging, drinking, internet etc.). You’ll be amazed!!

Love Michelle

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Internal vs. External Locus of Control

codependencyBy request I am writing this week on the topic of Internal and External Locus of Control. Chapter 11 of my book, Food is Not the Problem: Deal With What Is! is entirely dedicated to this topic as it is a key piece in the puzzle of why you use harmful coping strategies and why it’s so hard for you to stop.

One of my favorite authors, Don Miguel Ruiz, in his book The Four Agreements talks about the ancient Toltec philosophy which has four basic tenants:

  1. Always do your best
  2. Always be impeccable with your word
  3. Don’t take anything personally
  4. Don’t make assumptions

He insists in his book that we are all living on a potential “heaven on earth” but, because of our lack of training and adherence to these basic tenants, we are truly living in hell.

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Posted in: 2010, CEDRIC Centre, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self

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The Fear of Making Mistakes (aka The Fear of Truly Living)

girlThose of us who use food to cope, or drugs, alcohol, shopping, procrastination, isolation, busywork, and even more socially-sanctioned strategies like over-exercise, co-dependency and workaholism, use those strategies in an attempt to distance ourselves from the constant sense of anxiety we feel within.

The anxiety that we feel is borne out of harmful all-or-nothing stories that I call “learned helplessness.” The learned helplessness stories sound something like this:

  • I can’t
  • It’s too big
  • It’s too much
  • I’m not capable
  • I won’t be able to do it
  • I’m not allowed

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Posted in: 2010, CEDRIC Centre, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self

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