Cedric Centre for Counselling Inc.


Archive for February, 2011

Future focus distracts you from present pain

The Diet Mentality is all about the future. The Drill Sgt. is only interested in what you have done that wasn’t good enough and what you are going to do to make it better – to redeem yourself, so to speak. So your goal setting and your thoughts about life in general will be centered around what you are going to do in the minutes, hours, days and months to come that will finally make you an acceptable human being, bringing you all that you desire and deserve.

Some of that future focus exists in you because it is just too painful right now to be in the present moment. You have the Drill Sgt. on your case constantly; you have your memories of past pain and hurt that have yet to be healed and moved through; you also have the day-to-day chores and responsibilities of life with their own trials and tribulations that, on top of the mountain of unfinished business, make the present moment a bit of a drag to say the least. What wants to hang out there? Clearly some part of you does. Some part of you knows, on a gut level, that gently challenging yourself to be present and identifying what is really going on for you is the only way which will enable you to really change those old thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that keep you stuck.

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Relationships 101 Week 4

Flags in a RelationshipThis article is part of a series: Relationships 101: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4.

This week in our Relationships 101 series, I want to chat a bit about flags in a relationship.

If I do say so myself, I wrote a pretty smokin’ section on this in my book so if you’ve got access to “Food is not the Problem: Deal With What Is! I encourage you to check out Chapter 23. It’s got lots of good education and tools on communication in relationships.

I’m going to present an abridged and updated version of the section on flags here so you can get a good feel for the concept and begin to experiment with it yourself.

The Flag System

I am about to share with you a concept that is not in and of itself a communication tool. However, it is a fundamental tool for assessing the information you are receiving verbally and non-verbally from people in your life. Once you have assessed this information, you will be in a stronger and clearer place to determine for yourself how you want and need to proceed. By that, I mean whether or not you need to speak to the other person, and if so, what you need to say.  (We’ll address the what to say and how to say it in the next 2 weeks of this series of articles).


Posted in: CEDRIC Centre, newsletter, Relationship with Food, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self, Relationships 101

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Past traumas trigger food focus, understandably

Remember that a coping strategy allows us to remain in an uncomfortable situation without being aware of how uncomfortable we are. Well, what if the uncomfortable situation is now within us? It is years after our trauma, and we have turned against ourselves because of years of feeling the anxiety and distress of that trauma. These were perfectly appropriate responses at the time, but no one ever validated or acknowledged them. We are tired of feeling anxious and constantly insecure. Nothing we try seems to make a difference. We must get away from ourselves because we can’t seem to find a way to live with ourselves.

Bring on the behaviours. Bring on the big guns. Take my mind off my feelings and thoughts that keep me stressed and preoccupied. It can be a relationship so I can now focus on the other person and project my feelings of anxiety and frustration onto them. It can be food or drugs so I can numb out. Whatever! Just get me out of myself! This is how many of us come to find ourselves obsessed with and enmeshed in substances, in other people’s lives, and in food. It’s something obvious in the present to which we can attach this distress. Maybe even something we have some power over.

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Living in the present helps ease anxiety

Ask yourself right now, in this moment, if you are physically and emotionally safe? Or are you being threatened, judged or pressured by anyone or any outside influence – not five minutes ago or possibly in one hour, but right now? The answer will very likely be no. Okay then, why the anxiety? Why the distress? Why the level of dis-ease that you are feeling right now?

The answer is that your Drill Sgt. and Authentic Self live life in the past and the future – not the present moment. The past was painful and scary, and you were powerless. And on some level you felt overwhelmed by the behaviour of others. For the record, your pattern of worrying, planning and holding on to the anxiety is definitely not protecting you or keeping you safe. It is sustaining a life of fear and suffering, and enhancing your need for food to cope.

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The process of recovery

The process of recovery is dependent on: 1) your being able to notice when you are using an old coping strategy and then identifying what triggered this thought, feeling or behaviour; and 2) what action you need to take, internally or externally, to meet the need which was triggered. That’s it in a nutshell!

Coping strategies impact you in terms of unfinished business, the permeating level of anxiety, and the hopelessness and despair of feeling out of control and powerless to do anything about it. Your coping strategies are only signposts. They are meant to make you aware of your unmet needs in that moment. Don’t spin your wheels focusing on the coping strategies themselves. Always look to the underlying need which triggered them initially.

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Boundary setting

Boundary Setting

In exploring your feelings about boundary setting and why you might feel resistant to it, it can be helpful to explore your beliefs too.

Think about a current relationship in your life where you often find yourself feeling anxious, insecure, overrun or resentful and then take a moment to consider your answer to the following questions:

What is it about this person or the relationship you have with them that triggers these feelings?

What would you like to see happening in this relationship that would reduce the anxiety and insecurity etc. that you feel with them?

What commitments would you need to make with yourself about what you will or won’t do in order to lessen those feelings of being overrun or of resentment?

What would you need to ask them for or tell them you will or won’t do in order to make that happen?

What thoughts and feelings surface when you consider setting those boundaries with that person?

Are you fearing judgement, anger, labeling as needy or high maintenance; or maybe you fear that they would reject you?

Why are you settling for patterns in your relationships that don’t feel good to you?

Where did you get the idea that you are not worthy of being treated with dignity and respect? That you are not worthy of getting what you need and desire in your relationships?

And then considering whomever gave you those ideas or treated you that way in your past ask yourself this:

Why am I willing to believe that they were healthy, functional, ‘right’ people?  

What do you know now about them and their lives that could, if you allowed it, change the way you interpreted those events? Maybe they were struggling with their own depression and self-esteem. Maybe they were abused as children and lacked the ability to be nurturing and considerate of your feelings. 

Allow yourself to see the truth of these relationships. And then think about the present and ask yourself:

If those people who taught me to feel so worthless and afraid we not 100% well or secure in themselves, why am I continuing to live my life as though they were right to treat me badly and as though there really is something wrong with me?

Stop living in the past. Let yourself see the reality of the present and find relationships that will mirror what is true about you – you are worthy of love and acceptance and of peaceful, loving, fun relationships. You are worthy of asking for what you need.

Let’s get started!!!

I’m here to help.

Love Michelle

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

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Relationships 101 Week 3

Flags in a RelationshipThis article is part of a series: Relationships 101Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4.

Okay folks, we’re at Week 3 of what could (but won’t) be a 52-week series! We’re going to tackle the key bits of any relationship and how to make yours hum in 6 weeks (or so). This week we’re specifically going to explore flags in a relationship.

If you’re not into this series as it’s just not where you’re at or what you’re needing at this time, I highly recommend you spend the next few weeks reviewing the “Complete Recovery Series.” This is a series I wrote that lays out the key tools you need to begin to experience healing in your relationship with food. You’ll find a listing of all the articles on the left hand side of the blog.

If you’re following along with this series however, you’ll have experimented a bit last week with providing for others and for yourself that which you have been expecting or looking for from them. I’ll bet you learned a great deal and that already you have greater empathy for yourself and for others.


Posted in: CEDRIC Centre, newsletter, Relationship with Food, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self, Relationships 101

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Fatigue begets more fatigue

Many of us who use food to cope resist going to bed at a decent hour and force ourselves to stay up, yawning and exhausted. We frequently eat at those times, often because we’re tired. This only adds to our emotional and physical fatigue. Sometimes we stay up late because we are desperate for some time for ourselves. If we have partners and/or children at home, roommates and so forth, we will find it challenging to have space to let ourselves just be.

If late at night is the only time available for just us, we will covet that time and be very reluctant to give that up, even to the concept of self-care and sleep. If this sounds like you, clearly there is a lack of balance between the social you and the independent you. You are stuck in “giving” mode, and it is imperative that you begin to carve out some time each day that is just for you. You’d be surprised what 20 minutes of uninterrupted you time can do.

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Unrealistic goals from within and without

The diet industry nets billions of dollars each year convincing you that goals are attainable through a program of restriction and tuning out to your body’s natural signals of hunger and fullness. And those goals may be attainable, but the methods through which they are attained are certainly not sustainable.

It is this truth that leads to what is commonly called in our society “falling off the wagon” or “being bad”. The judgement of our inability to “stick to the plan” leads to the establishment of more unrealistic goals which, in turn, leads to more and more experiences with disappointment and failure.

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Resistance inquiry

It is important to not let your resistance prevent you from making the changes you desire. Having said this, we absolutely must acknowledge the trigger(s) which cause us to feel resistance, and we must determine why this might be. For example, I might feel great resistance to going out for dinner with a particular person. On the surface, I might judge myself for being anti-social or think I’m just being lazy.

Perhaps though, if I asked myself where my resistance was coming from, or in other words, what I was telling myself about dinner with this person that had triggered me to feel resistant, I would discover quite readily that this person has a habit of putting me down or making rude comments which undermine my sense of security and/or value system. In this light, no wonder I’m resistant to spending time with this person. More power to me!

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