One of the primary coping strategies that all humans use from time to time is procrastination: The art of leaving to tomorrow what you could and possibly even “should” do today. When we procrastinate every now and then with things that aren’t so big it has no harmful or lingering impact on our lives. We’ve simply chosen to pick up the dry cleaning Friday rather than Thursday and it’s stuff we don’t need until Monday so no biggie. However, those of us who use food to cope in any way also typically struggle with procrastination in a big way and that has a nasty impact on our overall sense of peace and trust in ourselves. This inevitably leads us to need to use food to cope even more to numb out or to feel that at least we’re on top of something. The underlying triggers that cause us to reach for food to cope or to restrict set off a chain reaction that looks something like this:
- We feel unsafe or insecure about something in our lives – either because it’s new and different or because we’ve been told by others it can be difficult or we’ve tried it before and it was hard, or for some other reason altogether.
- We then tell ourselves a nasty story that it’s not going to go well or that we won’t be able to be successful.
- This story naturally triggers feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
- These feelings are so uncomfortable that they lead us to want to numb out or avoid this thing we’ve told ourselves won’t go well and we do that numbing out and avoiding by using food to cope in some way and by putting off any effort towards the thing that we’ve said won’t go well.
- Thus our stress level rises and we have even less chance of success, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and greater likelihood of procrastinating even more furiously next time around.