When it comes to relationship with food, or weight loss, or healing from an eating disorder, a lot of us think we have the right tools and we’re simply not using them. As a result, we experience a great deal of shame (“I can’t get it together”), self-judgement (“what’s wrong with me that I can’t just do this – seems like everyone else can”), and fear (“am I EVER going to deal with this?”).
I’m here to share with you that often, the situation is more complex than this.
If you can relate to the statement “I know what I SHOULD be doing – I just don’t do it”, there are four things I’d like you to consider.
1. Do you have the right tools?
Many people rattle off this list of activities that they are supposed to be doing in order to prevent or interrupt compulsive eating. These activities usually fall under the category of diets / calorie counting / journaling your food intake, or band-aid distraction activities masquerading as self-care, such as mediating, writing in a journal, going for a walk, calling a friend, watching a movie, etc. And then there’s that useless “figure out why I am eating so that I can stop.” My friends, as you know, none of these tools work in the long term. Why? Because compulsive eating, at its root, is about avoiding a relationship with yourself and your internal experience. None of the aforementioned activities help you to tune in to what’s going on inside – or, if they do, it’s in a very superficial way. What tools should you try instead? Learning how to listen to your body, identify and work with your emotions, and give yourself what you need, is a pretty good start.
2. Are you simply in too much pain?
There’s a really good reason we binge eat. Chances are it’s our most effective tool for numbing out, distracting, getting high – basically, removing ourselves from our present experience. If you don’t know how to sit with your pain, all the dieting and journaling and walking in the world will get you nowhere. Truly. What to try instead? Learn how to stay present with your feelings, for starters.
3. Are you leveraging the power of choice?
Here’s a really important thing to know – we talk about choice like it’s really easily accessible all the time. Ha – if only it were that simple! If you don’t have the right tools, and you’re in too much pain, then it’s pretty difficult to simply “choose” not to binge. I hope that this understanding this helps to validate your experience. But if you are well along the road to healing, choice becomes more of an option.
4. Are you stuck in victim mode?
We all have a part that wants to sabotage our success and get taken care of. Getting to know her and learning how to relate to her is crucial for your healing process. Again, we are back to developing the skills to connect to your internal experience. You can’t figure out the victim part with your brain. And if you don’t know how to listen inside, you may not be aware of her at all. Start to pay attention to how you are feeling and what “voices” occur when you are engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors. You may discover your victim, which is great, because then you can start to engage with her.
Do these tips resonate with you? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.