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One feeling that drives disregulated eaters towards food is not being in control of a situation. That’s a difficult position for all of us to be in and our perspective informs our attitude toward how we handle it. The more rational your views on what you can and can’t control, the more likely you won’t eat when control is out of your hands.
The world is a chaotic place—nature does its thing, world events impact us socially, culturally and financially, people push their own agenda’s, accidents befall us, and our bodies get sick and grow old. Inescapably, helplessness is at its worst when we’re very young or very old. Of course, the more we rail against it, the worse we feel.
The world can be indifferent, unfair, and cruel. It is a peculiarly human notion, part of our egocentricity, however, that life throws things at us. It really doesn't. Life just happens, tooling along on its merry or not so merry way. Humans have expectations, desires, and wishes, and feel upset or thwarted when something gets in the way of what we want, expect, or hope for. The truth is that life happens independent of these expectations, desires, and wishes. It's just, well, life, and sometimes it works with us and sometimes it works against us. When we recognize that life doesn’t care if we’re “good,” “bad” or indifferent, we accept the randomness and unfairness of the universe. This is a difficult, upsetting concept for many people, but also can be a relief: if things work out, all well and good; if not, it means that our plans got in the way of life doing its own thing.
We do better with life’s chaos when we recognize that we are not the center of the universe and can’t control everything that happens. Stop and think about whether you accept this essential truth. From my clinical experience, I’d say that people who’ve had a chaotic childhood or one in which they lacked reasonable control, have far more trouble accepting the chaos and randomness of the universe than folks who had a predictable and consistent upbringing. So, no surprise that if you had a dysfunctional childhood, you are likely clinging to maintaining order and control in adulthood.
I’m not saying we’re victims. Sometimes we are and sometimes we’re not. It’s crucial to avoid all-or-nothing thinking, that is, you either have control or you don’t. In order to manage your life, always look at what you can impact and what you can’t. Know when you’re powerless and when you can make a difference in your life or someone else’s. The greater your comfort with exerting control when you can and not expecting to when you can’t, the more likely you are to avoid eating when life doesn’t go your way.
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