Archive for January, 2012
For the next few weeks in my articles, I’m going to be exploring each of the key points of what we call ‘The Diet Mentality.’ Each week I’m going to briefly explore one key characteristic of this harmful way of thinking and offer you a suggestion of something you can do that week to begin to directly address this issue if it something that you recognize in yourself. For this week though we’re going to start with an exploration of where The Diet Mentality comes from and some background on diets in general:
The Origin of Our Diet Mentality
The Diet Mentality is a way of thinking that has been ingrained in us by messages we receive predominantly from our primary caregivers and our peers. These messages are then often reinforced and enhanced by teachers, coaches, advertisements and media messages, and from diet and exercise programs that we may have tried in the past or may currently be pursuing.
It is easier to understand how we came to be where we are when we keep in mind that as children and adolescents, because we were limited by our brain’s inability to realize that not everything is about, or caused by, us, and because we had no other frame of reference than that of the family in which we were raised (and the community surrounding us), we had no contrast and therefore no ability to see clearly when our parents and peers, teachers and coaches were, themselves, confused in their thinking. We just believed that they were right and we followed blindly and innocently along. (For a more detailed article on brain development and its impact on our lives , and our relationship with food please see: http://www.cedriccentre.com/blog/lets-talk-about-your-brain/)
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
And, those learned helplessness, all-or-nothing stories (that trigger our anxiety and our use of harmful coping strategies) are triggered by a naturally and appropriately occurring sensation in our bodies that I call “the niggle.”
The niggle arises when we have needs that aren’t being met.
If you used food to cope as a child (or any other of the strategies listed above), it is extremely likely that when you felt that little niggle inside that let you know you needed something and you tried to get that need met through your words or actions, you were unsuccessful, or perhaps even berated or shamed or physically harmed.
Why is it so Hard to be Honest?
One of the hardest things for people to do, especially people who have received any co-dependent training, is to hold themselves to the core value of honesty. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on to find out why honesty is so challenging some times and what you can do to start feeling more confident in your ability to be honest with everyone, all the time.
The answer to the question ‘Why is it so hard to be honest’ is twofold:
1. We often (usually) don’t even know what we truly feel and want and need. We might know something doesn’t feel right or good or okay but we have our inner critic immediately judging our feelings and so we mistrust our emotions just as we mistrust our hunger and fullness cues.
2. We are scared crapless to piss people off! Let’s just admit it! We don’t want to upset anyone. We don’t want to be the bad guy. We don’t want anyone saying anything about us that isn’t nice and warm and fuzzy. And so we bail on ourselves.
And just in case you’re still wondering if this applies to you: If you have any food and body image stress, or if you binge, or struggle with restriction (dieting or anorexia or orthorexia (an obsession with eating “clean”), or purging (through exercise, laxatives, or vomiting) or with drinking, drugs, too much t.v. or internet; feeling overrun by your relationships or frustrated in your career, you can guarantee that you have a high dose of co-dependent training.
I’ll bet you know something about goal setting. I’d actually be willing to bet that you’re very good at setting yourself goals each and every day about what you’ll eat, what you won’t eat, when, how much exercise you’ll do, how much sleep you’ll get, whose call you’ll return and how much you’ll get done at work or around the house. Chances are, you’re really skilled at setting goals. But…how often do you actually follow through with them? How often do you get to the end of your day feeling peaceful and relaxed that you achieved what you had asked of yourself that day?
If, more often than not, you reflect on your day, and hear the Drill Sgt.’s critical voice in your head pointing out your shortcomings, it’s a good indication that you did not achieve the goals you set for yourself that day. Same goes for those of you who wake up in the morning to the Drill Sgt. telling you what you will and won’t do that day to make up for what you did/didn’t do the day before.