The only reason you ever use food to cope, no exceptions, is because you have needs (See Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic Needs Chart on the left) that aren’t being met in some area of your life and you’ve told yourself that you’re not allowed, not deserving, or just not capable of getting them met, no matter what you do. These stories you’re telling yourself lead you to feel depressed and anxious, lethargic and frantic, in other words, they overwhelm you.
And when you’re feeling overwhelmed about something you believe you can’t do anything to change or resolve, the only thing to do is to find a way to diminish or discount the impact of that thing: to numb out.
In comes your primary coping strategy.
Is it binging?
Is it restricting calories, certain kinds of foods, or times of eating regardless of whether you’re hungry or not?
Is it purging (through an hour or two of exercise, through laxatives, or vomiting)?
Is it an attachment to a certain weight or way of looking?
Is it drinking?
What about drugs; shopping; gambling; the pursuit of that perfect relationship?
Do you take responsibility for what others feel, or what others need?
Do you procrastinate to cope with overwhelming things?
Download the recorded one hour teleclasses with Michelle if you are unable to join in live.
The teleclass series highlight segments of our transformative weekend workshops. We designed these of course to reach as many people as possible, but particularly for those who don’t have access to the specific counselling we provide due to location, finances or just a state of readiness to ask for help. The principles learned in the CEDRIC material not only help you deal with disordered eating, they can help anyone using a coping strategy they wish to stop, such as drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc. get closer to their goal by teaching them why they do what they do and how to retrain their brain on many levels.
You will find a variety of topics covered to help you attain the healthy relationship with food and body image that you seek.
These are great lessons to own and replay when you need a pep talk so please play them more than once and the repeated message will surely pay off!
To see the schedule, go to http://www.cedriccentre.com/mini-workshops-webinars-and-teleclasses
Okay! This week I’m sharing a simple exercise that you can use to examine that lovely trait: Defensiveness and we’ll answer the question: Why am I so defensive about what I eat? It’ll also help you with the close cousin to defensiveness: Making Excuses. This exercise will help you take the first step to feeling more confident about your actions and less reactive to the comments and questions of others. Sound good? Then read on.
Often we get blindsided by certain comments or expressions or situations in general and, if we’re not grounded we can find ourselves reacting and feeling anxious and behaving as though we have to “prove” that we are right or that we are decent people or that the other person is wrong.
This tactic only ever makes us feel vulnerable, insecure and small. And it is an experience that will inevitably lead us to use our food coping strategy either by getting angry with ourselves and restricting or by feeling small and powerless and binging to numb out and nurture ourselves. Either way we lose.
So, let’s do some reconnaissance this week on this pattern.
When you feel like you’re put on the defensive (you’re being attacked or judged by others).
When you’re suddenly anxious or feeling insecure with someone.
When you feel like to have to have the “right” answer on the fly.
When you hear yourself explaining your reasons for certain choices or actions or beliefs in a tone other than peaceful and chill.
When you hear yourself justifying your behaviour; arguing about your rightness; rather than just acknowledging it didn’t work for the other person or that you dropped the ball, forgot, or chose not to follow through.
When you notice these indicators of defensiveness and excuse making, start by zipping your lip. Even if you’re in mid-sentence. Stop talking! Excuse yourself (no pun intended), leave the room/situation as quickly as you can. You can say something like “I need to think about that, I’ll get back to you.” And go!
Before I dive in to this week’s article which is a response to a question/sharing from a newsletter reader I thought I’d share a piece of feedback I received that will help you to appreciate the value of giving this a try:
“Recently I made a comment and was judged for it. I felt terrible because this is an issue I have had before and I want so badly to be a person who is accepted and thought well of. When I went through the questions I realized that the person who had criticized me was likely insecure too and it wasn’t JUST about me. It was a helpful exercise.”
That’s great news!! I love hearing how just a few minutes of conscious, structured exploration can bring such peace and clarity!! Yay!
And now for this week’s question and answer from Anna.
“I so desperately want to be a gracious person but it seems I am always coming out with some comment that is less than gracious or some overreaction. I envy my neighbour who is truly gracious and even though I observe how it is done I can’t get there myself and often feel judged for my reactions and beat myself up repeatedly about this. I realize you can’t become someone else overnight but my progress is so slow that sometimes I feel I am peddling backwards. On the other hand if I’m constantly on guard and managing my image I feel like a boring flat person.”
Thanks for taking time to share your observations and frustrations here Anna.
Last week we were noticing comparisons, and the week before we were observing the tone we used to speak in certain situations and what it means about how we’re feeling and perceiving ourselves.
I have yet to receive any direct feedback on the comparison recon and will follow up with you on how to make best use of this assignment when I do. So, if you tried the exercise and are just a bit too shy or self-critical to share what you learned, remember you can always share and ask for your personal information to be kept private.
This week I want you to pay special attention to:
Any time that you feel silly, small, stupid, or judged.
Any time you find yourself imagining a situation in the future where something will happen that you believe will trigger those feelings of insecurity.
I know, I know. You don’t do that! But maybe someone you know does….?
Just kidding! We all do it – even the healthiest of us fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others from time to time. If we’re using food to cope or any other harmful coping strategy, I guarantee you, you are spending far more time than is helpful or necessary comparing yourself to others. This exercise will help you notice when you’re getting caught in the comparison game and help you to understand why you do it and how to step free.
Below are some suggestions of things to be noticing over the next week. Email me and tell me what you notice and we’ll have a dialogue about some simple things you can do to feel more confident in your own skin and less attached to what others have or do or think or feel.
We can’t be free of our use of food to cope with stress until we understand where our stress comes from and create effective, life-enhancing ways of thinking and behaving in stressful situations. So, let’s go!