Excerpt from the book Food is Not the Problem: Deal With What Is!
Social Isolation – Why Do I Do It?
First, let’s explore what leads you to isolate yourself. In short, it’s all about how much you trust yourself to set boundaries and to only engage in relationships which are healthful and supportive of you. The degree to which you doubt your ability to assert your needs will be the degree to which you isolate. In other words, if you don’t trust yourself to say no to others, you will likely refrain from much social interaction, or you will find yourself overloaded with social commitments which are unrewarding and lack depth. You may not even be conscious that this is what motivates you to distance yourself from others. Your Drill Sgt. may have tried to explain your behaviour through his old core-belief perspective, telling you all sorts of stories about how weird and unlikable you are; how no one really cares whether you are around or not; how people are only going to judge you; and how unattractive or unintelligent you are if you go out. None of this is at all true. It’s just more of that coping strategy of negative core beliefs and bad body thoughts kicking in. And you know that this is just an indication of unmet needs for security and acceptance.
As you begin to hone your skill of identifying the unmet needs that drive your coping behaviour, you will be presented with many opportunities, big and small, to strengthen your trust in yourself and create more security by validating your needs, setting clear boundaries, and proving how effectively you can care for yourself. It is likely that at the start of this new way of looking out for yourself you will notice yourself feeling anxious and resistant. There are two key pieces at play here:
1. Somehow, your Authentic Self and not your Nurturing Parent is front and centre trying to navigate this new terrain on her own. This is dangerous, because your Authentic Self is still very young and still needs a lot of reassurance and support to behave in a new way and not buy into those old core beliefs. She does not have the capacity to rationalize and empthasize in the way the Nurturing Parent does. She must not be made to handle scary and stressful situations such as boundary setting. You wouldn’t make a five-year-old child go on his own to confront someone about security or approval needs that aren’t being met, so you can’t expect your Authentic Self to have the courage and ability to do so either.
2. Your Drill Sgt. senses the insecurity, fear, and doubt of the Authentic Self and is doing his “motivation through criticism” to try and get you back into a “safe” and familiar place. You will likely hear the Drill Sgt. insisting that your needs are not valid or important. You may be aware of him calling you names, such as, weak, needy, when you are experimenting with acknowledging your feelings and needs to others. I encourage you to acknowledge the Drill Sgt.’s comments and then, as we have discussed, ask him what his intent is. Remember: seek to understand.
The solution? Notice the distress and resistance about boundary setting, and call forth your Adult Nurturing Parent. The Nurturing Parent can then reassure the Authentic Self that her feelings and needs are valid; that she has a right to ask for what she needs and that they, the Nurturing Parent, will take over from here. “Try the hand-on-the-tummy thing here. It really does help to ground you and establish a stronger sense of connection between your Parent and Authentic Self).
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