A few weeks ago, during our self-care series, I received this email asking for some specific support around goal setting and changing harmful patterns.
“Thank you for this article, it sounds so easy when you break the goal down into small pieces that are seemingly easily attainable.
I’m really struggling with a lack of sociability. I put off going out and meeting people (even going to the market) and am getting more and more housebound. I find myself dreading any social contact and I just want to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed. Can you help me with my goal of being a little more outgoing and getting myself to socialize without throwing myself into a state of panic? Thanks for all your great articles and help.”
For those of you out there also struggling with the coping strategies of isolation, avoidance and procrastination, let me offer you a suggestion for moving past and into an experience of life that is fuller and richer than the one you’re living right now.
For starters I want you to consider that there is, in your mind, a very legitimate reason that you are avoiding going out. Whatever it is you have experienced in the past when you’re out or whatever it is you are imagining experiencing when you do go out in the future, the image is so unpleasant that you can’t get comfortable with the idea of leaving your safe haven, even for an hour.
If the issue of procrastination or isolation happens in your life, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “What am I telling myself is going to happen if I leave home?” or “What am I telling myself will happen while I’m out?” or “What am I telling myself will happen if I do that task I’ve been putting off?” or “What am I telling myself about that task?”
Write your answers down.
Now ask yourself, “What needs do I have that I am telling myself will not be met by me going out, or by me doing that task?” (Such as safety, comfort, respect, rest, play, fun…)
Write them down.
Then ask yourself, “What needs would be met by me going and doing that task or by me heading out of the house?” (Such as accomplishment, reliability, connection, friendship, purpose, significance, sharing, inclusion, or contribution.)
So there’s your problem.
Your all-or-nothing Drill Sgt. is telling you that you have to go out or have to do that task because then your needs for accomplishment, etc., will be met (ie. your needs that are usually met by others – remember your Drill Sgt. is all about you getting your needs for external approval met).
And at the same time, your authentic self is saying that her needs for safety and comfort and rest won’t be met given how she’s imagining the task, or the trip outside, going.
So, at least now you know why you’re procrastinating.
Now, the next step of the solution lies in considering the different ways in which you could meet those needs for yourself and thus feel free to choose to go out or stay in; to do that task now, or later; but really feel it’s a choice and not something that is forced on you or something that you are resisting.
So take a moment and look at both sides of the equation. Is there some way that you can reassure yourself that your needs for rest, safety and comfort will be met even if you do go out, or do take on that task today?
I find there’s always a way for both sides, whether it’s both sides in me, or me and a friend/partner/etc., to get what they need. Did you get that? There’s always a way for us both to get what we need. If you’re feeling anxious or resistant to something it’s because some aspect of yourself is hooked into approaching something a certain way that doesn’t feel right (aka meet needs) for another aspect of yourself. There are no exceptions to this rule.
You use food to cope because you don’t honor this rule and you force yourself to act in ways that may meet some needs but severely compromise others. Think about it.
Make a commitment that if you feel any anxiety or resistance to something, even leaving the house to get groceries, you’re going to stop and dialogue with yourself about what needs you have that you’re telling yourself won’t be met in doing so, and you’re going to ask what needs would be met in going.
Then you’re going to ask yourself, how else could this look? How else could I meet those needs? Ie. I could just pop out for one stop as opposed to the whole afternoon; I could arrange to have someone bring some things in; I could commit to coming home as soon as I start to feel a little tired rather than forcing myself to stay out because I’m out!
Make it safe for yourself to try that new thing or to get yourself out of the house. And by that I mean, listen to how you’re feeling as you go. As soon as it stops feeling safe or fun, leave. Honor yourself, build a relationship of trust with yourself, not a relationship of self-scolding and pressure. That’s the relationship that got you into the pickle you’re in and it won’t get you out no matter how hard you try.
Compassion and self-respect are the keys to complete freedom from procrastination, isolation, avoidance, depression, anxiety, overeating, restriction, purging, alcoholism, drug addiction, and all the other harmful coping strategies people use to numb out.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Just tune in. Use your procrastination or isolation as an indicator that you have needs that aren’t being met by what you’re imagining or by what you’re doing right now and listen to yourself about what they are. Commit to not moving forward until you have a plan that will meet those needs as well the ones that would be met by going out or doing that task. That is a healthy relationship. That is respect. That will set you free.
Pick up your copy of the CEDRIC Centre Needs List (Right mouse click to download) for a list of common needs we all have.
Whether you prefer one-on-one counselling (in-person, by phone, or email), our intensive and transformative workshops, or the self-help approach, take action today to have a stress-free relationship with food. Sign up for our free newsletter today! Newsletter subscribers receive exclusive product discounts and are first in line to get on all the latest new at CEDRIC!