This post is part of a series about Complete Recovery. If you’d like to read all of the blog posts in the series, see The Three Steps to Complete Recovery – 1, 2, 3, 3 1/2, Step 4, Step um, I dunno…, and Step 5.
Step 6: More of the List of Stressors – Your simple key to freedom!
Continuing on with the theme from the past 6 weeks – here we go with more on the 3 core tools for complete and lasting recovery. My gift to you! I do hope you’re taking advantage of this opportunity to begin to explore these tools and see how they can benefit your life in all areas. If you’ve tried them once or twice and noticed subtle shifts, even for a moment, just imagine how profound those shifts will be once you have more familiarity and trust in these tools to alleviate any stressful thoughts and any need to use food to cope. If you can appreciate the power of these tools and want support to get “there” faster, just email or call and let us know – we’ll arrange a session for you or you can attend a workshop or join our web program. All are fabulous ways to create a life that is completely free from food and body image stress.
Last week I shared the first two steps and urged/encouraged/begged you to explore them before you went on to this week’s steps. I hope you did. But if not, just pick up with this week and if it feels like it’s not clicking, just let it be okay to go back to last week and do that for a day or two – it will suffice. Then come back to this week’s assignment and you’ll be good to go!
I’ve added the first steps that I shared with you last week here so you can see the flow of the process more clearly. So, if you’re savvy with the first 2 steps skip to 3, otherwise, take a mo’ and read them over before moving on – not a bad idea for us all to be repeatedly reminded of the basics.
So, encourage yourself to take 10 minutes each day to work down to step 5. Next week, I’ll share the last few steps with you and you’ll be good to go! I really want to hear from you about your experience with these steps, particularly if you’re having a challenging time identifying the all-or-nothing in your thinking (stories). This is to be expected and is nothing at all to judge in yourself – we all struggle initially with separating the fact from the fiction, and that’s what I and my staff are here for.
List of Stressors Handout:
Note: This process needs to be written down the first few times, not done in your head. If you try to do it in your head your Drill Sgt. and his all- or- nothing thinking will get in the way and you’ll end up feeling more stuck. When you write out a list of stressors you will end the process feeling free and peaceful and will be able very soon to just do this process in your head automatically whenever you feel the slightest bit anxious – you won’t need to wait until you’re already overwhelmed and binging, purging or restricting to tune in and release yourself from the stress in your life.
1. Notice when you are engaged in any of the following coping strategies:
- feeling that anxious (P.L.A.) feeling in your tummy; or
- a sinking/depressed feeling; or
- when you are restricting; or
- thinking about binging or purging; or
- you are in the middle of binging or purging; or
- have just finished; or
- hearing critical thoughts in your head; or
- wanting to isolate; or
- wanting to procrastinate; or
- having a bad body thought; or
- wanting to act out in anger (towards yourself or others).
These are all coping strategies. They are nothing in and of themselves. They are signposts and they exist to let you know one thing and one thing only: You have needs that aren’t being met. The proper response to noticing any of these cues is to take the following steps to seek to understand what needs have been triggered for you and what action you can take to meet that need in a way that enhances your self-esteem and all aspects of your life.
And, if trying to be mindful of them all seems a tad overwhelming (as it did to me when I was first learning this process), just pick one or two to be on the lookout for – it will be enough, I promise.
2. When you notice any of those thoughts, feelings or behaviours kicking in just acknowledge aloud: “I am kicking in to using one of my coping strategies and that absolutely, no exceptions, means I’m in all-or-nothing thinking. Every time!”
3. Ask yourself: “Just prior to me feeling that sinking feeling or kicking in to the coping strategy of binging and purging, what just happened or what was I just thinking that might be stressing me out? Invite yourself to make a note of the first 3 things that come to mind.
If you’re drawing a blank or you are absolutely convinced that the only thing that’s stressing you out is food and/or your weight, trust me, it isn’t! And try this: Consider the Matrix – past, present, and future – not just what is apparent to you in this moment. Ask yourself : “What was I just thinking about from my past or what might I have just been imagining in my future that could have triggered stress for me?”
Write down your answers (these are your stressors). If you still struggle to find an answer (and you may as you’ve likely been disconnected from your emotions and thoughts for some time), try this: Write down all of the key roles you have in your life (daughter, partner, individual, professional, volunteer, student, etc.) and identify the things that you are or aren’t doing in those areas that you have judgement of (things you should/shouldn’t be doing).
Allow yourself to identify your stressors using the tools above and just write one or two words to name them. This should be point form, bullets, not sentences at this point. We’re just getting out on paper a simple list of all the topic headings that may be triggering unmet needs and leading you to use one of the coping strategies above.
4. Now, for each one of your stressors ask yourself: “What is the story that I’m telling myself about this?” Ie.What should/shouldn’t be happening? What should or shouldn’t I or others have done? Where should or shouldn’t I be? Etc. etc.
5. For each story/stressor ask yourself is there any all-or-nothing thinking in this story? (ie. can I formulate that story as a “should” statement?). If you’re not sure, or if the story feels true, just add “and that means” to the end of each statement in #4 and see what comes up – is there any all-or-nothing thinking in that story? Circle or put a mark beside the stories that are all-or-nothing.
Take some time each day with these steps, I urge you, and you’ll notice a big difference in your overall anxiety and your urgency to use food to cope.
Have a fabulous week!
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.
© Michelle Morand, 2010