How to Make the ‘Right’ Decision About Food
If I could give folks who want to change their stressful relationship with food, weight and other humans once and for all, just one piece of advice I’d say this:
Make a commitment to yourself that you are not going to force yourself to do anything ever again!
Now, take a moment to breathe while that voice in your head freaks out and tells you “Stop reading!!! Don’t listen to that crazy lady! If you stop forcing yourself to do things you’ll never do anything!”
And then ask that voice in your head:
Did the crazy lady tell us not to ever do anything? Ummmm…well…no….but…
Is it possible that rather than the extreme outcome of us never doing anything ever again, something good might happen if we stop forcing ourselves to do stuff?
While that voice in your head is coming up with all the reasons why you need to pressure and push yourself, or else, how about the rest of your brain reads on and finds out what I mean, lets out a sigh of relief, and educates old grumpy gills back there on what I really meant and what an incredibly simple and fabulously helpful idea it is.
So, as I was saying, if you want a speedy and complete recovery from any form of eating disorder or binging, overeating, restriction, and body image struggle, or any other common human coping strategy like procrastination, isolation, alcoholism and retail therapy, the best thing you can do is to make a commitment to yourself that you are not going to agree to anything that you don’t feel peaceful about.
Let me tell you why that is so important and then I’ll tell you what you need to do in order to actually make it happen.
What It All Means
First of all, contrary to the scary story that may have kicked into your head, waiting until you feel truly peaceful and therefore comfortable with a decision doesn’t in any way mean you won’t do anything.
What it actually means is that you’re going to learn to make sure that whatever it is you do, you’re doing it because it truly is the best thing for you and you really see and feel the truth of that; hence you feel peaceful not pressured and you’re more secure and confident as you do whatever it is you’re doing. This leads to a more enjoyable experience and a more positive outcome overall.
Another way of saying that is: You’re going to learn to pay attention to when you are trying to make a decision and you are not feeling peaceful; whether it’s about going out or staying home, eating that pudding or not eating anything, or taking that job and moving out of town or staying where you are, and you’re not going to expect yourself to agree to anything or force yourself to decide about anything until that uncertainty, resistance, or anxiety you’re feeling relaxes and turns into peace and confidence.
How To Trust Your Decisions Are Right For You
In order for that internal shift from uncertainty/resistance to peace, ease and confidence to take place you’ve got to:
1. Understand what it is you’re telling yourself you need to make a decision about;
2. Confirm that you actually need to be making a decision about that thing right now (when you ask yourself this question you might discover that it really isn’t up to you (that you’re taking responsibility for someone else’s business) or that you can wait a bit and see what happens or wait for a little more information etc. to come your way before you make a decision); and
3. Then identify (if in fact you have a decision to make) what it is about that decision that is triggering you to feel uncertain or resistant. To do this you simply need a pen and paper or a screen on which to make a few notes. On said screen or paper you write out all the stories/thoughts/fears that have popped into your head when you thought about/think about doing X. Then you ask yourself “What am I telling myself that means?” or “What am I telling myself is going to happen then?”;
4. Then ask yourself: “What is it about that that is making me feel anxious, uncertain, resistant and/or unsafe?”;
5. Then ask yourself: “What would need to happen in this situation in order for me to feel completely peaceful?”;
6. And: “What is one thing I can do to make that peaceful outcome a reality?”
Once you’ve identified and cleared any confused thinking about the issue and clarified what needs to happen in order for you to feel peaceful, the answer of what is best for you is clear and the decision will truly make itself because:
A. You will either see that your thinking was confused and you’ll truly feel peaceful moving forward; or
B. You’ll see clearly why you felt resistant, that it was valid and you’ll feel peaceful not moving forward with that thing.
Either way you’re at peace, you’ve deepened your trust and confidence and self-esteem with yourself and your need for food to cope has diminished.
Imagine yourself truly granting yourself permission to stay in and watch T.V. for an evening. Can you imagine how enjoyable it might be to feel entitled and fully in agreement with that choice? How much less judgement and therefore stress you would feel as you just flaked out on the couch with full permission because you were able to see that that really was a reasonable and fine choice for the evening?
You don’t need to distract yourself with food or calm your inner anxiety with processed carbs and refined sugars. It’s really okay. And because it’s really okay, it truly feels enjoyable and restful and you are happy with it. And because you’re happy with it, you didn’t use food to cope, and the next day you’ll feel more energized and confident to get out and do something or to explore other things that you’d also like to do at home instead of, or while, you’re watching your favorite shows.
And remember, the ‘right’ decision is the one that is right for you and you’ll know it’s right for you because you feel peaceful when you think about your own needs. It may not be right for anyone else but that’s not your job or responsibility.
A Bit About Functional Relationships:
Your responsibility as an adult is to make decisions that are truly right for you and, when others are involved, to communicate clearly and respectfully about your decision, your reasons for that decision, and work to ensure that you are understood and to do your best, without compromising your own needs to ensure that the other also gets what they need. That’s healthy relating.
The other person is ultimately responsible for their needs just as you are ultimately responsible for yours. A good relationship for you is one in which you and the other are aligned enough in terms of values and interests that meeting each other’s needs is simple and doesn’t lead you to feel compromised or stifled. If that isn’t the case, as is so often true of those who use food cope, it is important to explore the concept of healthy interdependence, self-esteem and communication (Our ‘Mastering Relationships’ Workshop is perfect for this!) so you can feel very solid in your understanding of what is fair and reasonable and healthy in a relationship and trust yourself to do your best with your half of every relationship.
That’s how you’ll have peace and confidence in knowing that you want, or don’t want, in any particular relationship and be able to peacefully step away from the ones that don’t allow you to feel safe or truly be yourself.
This process can, and should, be applied to food choices, exercise, dates, work events, social events, education, moving from A. to B., and anything else you can think of that you might ever need to make a decision about. Taking the time to figure out what is triggering that sense of uncertainty or anxiety in your tummy and waiting until you’ve struck upon a solution that really feels right and peaceful for you is a very simple process. The shift that you’ll feel in your own body and the changes you witness in your own need for food and other coping strategies will be so profound you’ll start naturally to resolve every decision this way and soon it will become second nature.
Your friends and family will admire your balance and groundedness and how you seem to be so at ease with yourself and so respectful of yourself and others. Life begins to flow in a way you’ve only dreamed of before.
Is It Hard To Imagine Feeling Truly Peaceful?
And, just in case you are struggling with this concept because you can’t imagine really ever feeling peaceful, how about asking yourself:
What am I telling myself will happen if I allow myself to take care of myself in this way? What’s going to happen if I treat myself with respect and start to act as though I’m deserving of feeling peaceful and happy?
And then apply questions 4-6 from above to those answers and see what you come up with. And at whatever point you want to speed things up and you’re truly ready to be done with feeling anxious and doubtful and using harmful coping strategies, please reach out to me and my amazing team.
The process of healing doesn’t need to be hard or take a long time when you have a simple format to follow and a good support team around you.
Feel free to send me some examples of decisions you’re feeling pressure to make and what happened when you ran through the 6 steps above. And for our web program members I encourage you to post your thoughts and examples on our discussion forum. I look forward to hearing from you and to supporting you to experience peace and confidence in all areas of your life.