It is human nature to seek familiarity and feel comforted by it. Often, even when the familiar behaviour is harmful to your essence and prevents you from fulfilling your dreams, you will cling to it because of the comfort provided by the familiar. This very tendency in all humans is why lasting change must happen gradually and this is where overcoming food obsession starts to kick in. When you demand immediate and complete change, you deny yourself time to learn the lessons that the problem or situation you have created is meant to teach. And you certainly don’t have a solid base or foundation in place to feel secure as you move into unfamiliar territory. This means you are likely to flounder and find yourself returning to your old familiar behaviour when things get a little challenging. This can leave you feeling defeated and hopeless.
Just think of any diet or “nutritional plan” you have tried. You no doubt discovered that your attempts to heal your relationship with food and body-image focus, prior to understanding the cause, set you up to have short-term success. Your success could last only for as long as you did not require those coping strategies, that is, as long as nothing in day-to-day life upset your apple cart! This is why, at the pinnacle of our Diet Mentality, many of us can stick to a diet or some form of restrictive behaviour for only about 12 hours! Max! You can be “good” during the day when you are busy, out and about or in front of others, but when you get home, or the chores of the day are mostly attended to, you decompress with food and the whole cycle repeats itself. If the underlying trigger that leads you to use food to cope is unattended, you will be in trouble when something happens that you hadn’t planned for, or didn’t happen the way you had hoped. The feelings and unmet needs, which naturally and appropriately get triggered in those life situations, currently drive you to restrict, binge or purge to cope.
To be successful in changing an old coping strategy, you must have the confidence of knowing that a nurturing force is standing by, ready to catch you when you start to naturally default into those old patterns. And this force must be predominantly found within. Building a solid, nurturing, supportive and understanding relationship with yourself can take some time?as it would with others; however, you will begin to see the benefits of this stronger and more supportive internal relationship immediately, in your awareness of what you are thinking, feeling and needing in that moment and in your ability to respond to those thoughts, feelings and needs respectfully and appropriately.
With a greater sense of trust, security and awareness of yourself rather than the impatience your Drill Sgt. was throwing your way, you will feel a sense of relief which allows you to relax and trust yourself to make life-enhancing and dignified choices around food, yourself and others.
And know this as well: you own this process of change. It does not own you. You can take it as fast or as slow as you like and as you have time and space for. You can look at as much “stuff” and be as aware as you want at any given time, and you can make as many changes as you wish; furthermore, you can return to your previous comforting behaviour whenever you feel the need for the old numbing peace that it brings. Soon, you will naturally find that the old, comfortable coping behaviour no longer fits. It just doesn’t feel right any more. It is not who or where you want to be, nor will you really feel the need to find “security” this way. You will naturally choose not to use it, opting to engage in thoughts, feelings, and behaviours which you have had some practice with and that are coming to feel so much more respectful and natural?so much more “right” – on a gut level than that old coping strategy ever did or ever could. You have found yourself. You have found peace.