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Defeating emotional eating- Living Both Sides of The Golden Rule

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A good portion of a successful journey to healthy living and weight loss is learning to understand the triggers that throw you off course. Those moments where you want to make a good choice, a choice true to yourself and your long term goals, but the desires and needs of the moment are screaming like an angry two year old and you struggle to find the strength to stay the course.

Much of the dirty work in my journey to being healthy has been recognizing and addressing these triggers. Once recognized, when a trigger arises, I have the power to choose my actions and response. Before that I could only react; usually with old habits or anything that brought a little respite in the moment such as chocolate cake. These triggers wear many faces though from my reading and working with people it seems they have common themes. For myself, the triggers I struggle with most seem to fall into 3 main categories: Vulnerabilities, Hidden Core Beliefs & Outdated Survival Mechanisms.

As the unhealthy habits and the weight fall away, these triggers are going to be uncovered. They were buried underneath and now they will need to be dealt with and healed in order to stay on track with your goals. It's not glamorous work; it's difficult, it's slow, it's painful and a lot of times, in the moment, it won't feel like it's worth it. You'll want to quit so often it won't be funny. And that's understandable, this stuff hurts, but don't quit.

After you do the work your life will never be the same. You will be transformed. You will be the driver of your destiny bus. You chose the changes, you owned the work and so you will become the person you've always dreamed you could be. In my case, I'm more than I ever thought I could be- I'm stronger, more resilient and just plain happier than I ever thought possible. No, my external circumstance haven't really changed much. I've changed. Oh, and I'm doing all the activities I dreamed of now made possible by a body 160lbs smaller and stronger.

These past few weeks I've had one of my Hidden Core Beliefs come to the surface and suddenly I have a clarity about why I've behaved in ways that amount to self-sabotage and allowed others to behave badly toward me even when I knew I should stand up for myself. I'd learned the lesson of Do Unto Others As You'd Have Them Do Unto You very early in life and I accepted it as truth. Somewhere along the line however that message got tangled up with a darker message which directed my actions like a puppet master holding invisible strings. I believed it was my responsibility to Do Unto Others with Kindness, Respect and fulfilling their needs and desires no matter how they treated me in return. Even more twisted, the worse they treated me, the more it was my responsibility to be a 'good example' and take care of them by being the better person.

What I was lacking was the self-respecting and healthy complement to Do Unto Others-- which finally yesterday came to me like a quiet inner voice speaking a new truth to my soul-- Do Unto Others with kindness, respect and giving UNTIL their actions prove they will not reciprocate in kind. At that point it's time to consider using the tools of the other side of the coin, Do Unto Others Exactly As They Do Unto You.

I'm not saying that someone comes, screaming and throwing a tantrum, you throw one right back. Though if you've never done it, maybe you should try it once, it might just shock them so much they won't know what to do but calm down and talk to you. Seriously, mirroring someone's actions sometimes is a huge wake-up call, but be careful, it's much easier for this to blow it up till it's practically an emotional nuclear winter.

What I am saying is that if they come and throw a tantrum and try to hurt you with their words to make themselves feel better in the moment, you don't have to stand there and take it. You can do something as drastic as say, “I'd be happy to discuss this with you when you're calmer,” turn around and leave the room. Or, even more radical, recognize that you don't own what they're screaming about -if you honestly don't- tell them so and walk away from them and their problems. It's their issue. It's only yours if you allow it to be.

Granted there are going to be times you mess up and cause pain or inconvenience to another person and you need to own that and make amends. But even when you've made a mistake, that other person is still responsible for, and must own their own behaviors and actions they choose in response to your error.

There's a big difference between the person who thinks you've said something behind their back and comes to you to confront it with respectful anger and the same person using it as an excuse to spread lies about you at work trying to hurt your career or inappropriately betray confidences in public, to embarrass you and turn people against you. And there should be a big difference in how you choose to respond to those behaviors and choices.

Somewhere along the way I lost the other side of Do Unto Others and my Hidden Belief that I should always be good and kind to others no matter how they behave or treat me, that I should excuse their behaviors because they can't help themselves but not excuse anything less than perfect love, giving and kindness on my part is an unrealistic expectation which amounts to self-sabotage. You cannot get your own needs met if you believe you are responsible for everyone else's needs first. When you start giving up your own in order to please others, they won't respect you, but more deeply damaging, you will stop respecting yourself.

It's hard to love someone you don't respect. It's nearly impossible to make the difficult decisions and make the healthy, but not as fun, choices to make someone you don't love happier and healthier. It's counter-intuitive-- why would you struggle and work for the happiness of someone you don't love or even like?

Pretty soon, you'll need to stuff down all those needs and desires you should say, you want to say. To keep my inner self quiet, I often stuffed it down those words with food. It's amazing how effectively you can shut-up those nagging voices to take care of yourself with chips and chocolate; every proper young lady knows you don't talk with food in your mouth, right?

So now I'm sitting with this new belief, this new way of being and suddenly, a few of the interpersonal conflicts I've been dealing with in my life aren't causing the desires for chips and the sleepless nights like they were just a few days ago. Yes, they're still there and still need to be dealt with but I understand now why I must do and say those things I must and I know I'm not going to be untrue to myself even if the person I'm facing is throwing a tantrum and demanding I make them feel better right now. I'm not being unkind or selfish in a negative sense by standing up for myself- I'm doing my job of taking care of me. And I am stetting a good example for the other person, I'm showing them how I expect them to treat me, and that if they behave in ways that deserve kindness and respect, I'll be more than happy to give it right back.

That's way more satisfying that chips or chocolate, let me tell you. :)

Thanks as always for reading me, and I enjoy your feedback. You know where those comments go, so feel free to type them in. :)


Copyright © 2010 Cassandra Kelly. All Rights Reserved
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I think I may wind up back here, because I'll want to think about it many times. I'm not sure exactly how you came up with the list of "Vulnerabilities, Hidden Core Beliefs & Outdated Survival Mechanisms" but it really struck a chord.

    I believe in "Do Unto Others with Kindness, Respect" as well as I'd have them do unto me, but the "and fulfilling their needs and desires no matter how they treated me in return" is definitely not on my list. I also heartily belive in "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." There's sometimes a balance that is difficult to walk.

    I bet your life has been very interesting of late to have triggered such a deep set of thoughts and insights. I wish I had something witty to say, or a quote at the ready, about wisdom. But I don't, so my lame wish will have to do for now. Anyway, just like there's something to be said for hard work, there's something to be said for an interesting life.
    3967 days ago
    Wow! Have I ever "been there, done THAT!"

    Still doing it, but less and less...tough trap to avoid falling into over & over. Becoming more assertive has been such an important part of my recovery.

    You've summed it up SO well! Thx you for your words of wisdom!

    3967 days ago
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