Okay, okay, as many of you noticed, we had step 4 last week in the “Three Steps to Recovery” series! I was going to call it step 3.75 but figured it would be easier to just call it step 4. The truth is there are only 3 core tools to this whole entire process of recovery from any harmful coping strategies. It’s just that it takes more than 3 articles to lay them out for you in the most effective way.
So perhaps we should consider renaming this series “The key steps to learning the 3 core tools” or some such thing. The most important thing isn’t my ability to number or name my articles (thank goodness!). I’m sure you’ll agree that the most important thing is that the steps are clear and that the tools work. So bear with me in my inconsistencies in naming and numbering and just continue to experiment on your own with the tools and thoughts put forth and see for yourself how the 3 core tools change your life forever.
Last week I shared with you one of the 3 core tools. It’s a great little gem that I call “the Drill Sgt. dialogue.” How’d it go? We had a great chat on the web program forum about the Drill Sgt. dialogue and how to use it. It really is amazing to see how just learning how to listen to and communicate with your inner critic leads so quickly to a greater sense of empathy and compassion for yourself and thus to a greater sense of strength, integrity, peace and ……yes, of course, to a lessened need for food to cope.
You see when we truly understand why we do what we do, instead of just judging ourselves as flawed and stupid, and therefore, worthy of harm and unworthy of love, we immediately begin to feel compassion for ourselves – we don’t even have to think about it, it just happens. And, no human being who is feeling compassion for themselves can harm themselves.
Regardless of whether you engage in formal diet programs or your own special creation, or have been diagnosed with an eating disorder such as anorexia (restrict), binge eating disorder (overeat), bulimia (purge), or are somewhere in between in that place we call the diet-binge-guilt cycle, if you’re thinking you can completely overcome your use of food to cope without first integrating your inner critic and learning how to experience genuine empathy and compassion for yourself, you are mistaken. And the sooner you accept that fact and set about your Drill Sgt. dialogues, the sooner you’ll be emailing me to say you’re completely free of any thoughts and behaviours relating to food and body image stress! X my heart!
It is so darned ironic that the thing we need most to do to get what we most want is exactly the thing we most resist doing. This is the case with each of the 3 core tools: The 4-7-8 breathing exercise; The Drill Sgt. dialogue; and The List of Stressors. We resist connecting with ourselves, relaxing, offering ourselves compassion and empathy, and freeing ourselves from harmful old thoughts and paranoid thinking like those things are poisonous. And, they are poisonous; to our disordered eating and low self-esteem; to our co-dependence; to our depression; our anxiety; our mastery of procrastination and isolation; and to our relationship with drugs and alcohol and abusive, controlling people.
But, hey, I’m all over a new way of thinking and behaving that extinguishes any of those old harmful coping strategies, providing it leaves good stuff in its wake. The 3 core tools leave nothing but good stuff! Good relationships, good feelings overall and a solid ability to stay grounded and clear in the face of stress and unexpected or painful experiences are delivered consistently when we offer ourselves compassion, empathy, self-care, and a regular reality check for our thinking.
Ironically, the only reason we resist releasing this “poison” on our disordered eating and all-or-nothing Drill Sergeant is that we are still mostly operating from our old all-or-nothing mind which tells us that anything other than criticism and more whip-cracking is doomed to fail. We fear loving ourselves. We fear being kind and gentle with ourselves. We are afraid to be real and soft and vulnerable because we don’t know that we can simultaneously be strong and solid and vibrant and confident and secure. We still think it’s all-or-nothing, and that if we give up our “strength” (ie. our rigidity), we’ll be weak. It’s not like that at all. We let go of our rigidity and we become flexible, not weak. We become stronger and more solid and peaceful and happy and alive than we’ve ever been before and we feel safer and more secure in ourselves, in our body, our relationships, our careers, and our world than ever before.
The only way out is through. And in the case of disordered eating, diet mentality and any other forms of self-harm, through looks like empathy and compassion, self-appreciation and self-care. Loving yourself is so easy. Hating and harming yourself is hard and takes a lot of energy – and, what’s worse is that it’s no fun! Life is for living. Smile, laugh, start living! Have courageous conversations, starting with yourself. Your Drill Sgt. is waiting, so’s your life.
Next week the list of stressors!
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© Michelle Morand, 2010