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A while ago I had a heartening discussion with a client who was finally able to keep her self-care consistent and was amazed at the difference it made in her eating and her life. Here are a few ideas we came up with that underlie her transformation, along with several metaphors that helped in maintaining her stability and consistency.
Talking about how often she’d felt “depleted” which would drive her to eat, she shared how she’d recently turned this situation around by making several changes at once. First, she refused to allow her spouse to constantly criticize and talk down to her. Second, she began taking time for herself, including walking for 15 minutes daily and having a quiet cup of tea when she felt tense. These actions alone made her feel more solid and whole. By practicing ongoing self-care, when she entered a period of stress, she felt up to managing it and didn’t need to rush off to eat. She said that in the past, she would have told herself she needed food to sustain her, but found that, in fact, she now had reserves for what needed to be done as long as she took care of herself.
Feeling stronger in her emotional core led to discussing how we all want to feel firmly rooted but not so rigidly that we can’t go with the flow. Like a tree, we want to be able to bend slightly to and fro in the wind, not be snapped in half by it. Also, with a firmer center, she was less reactive to her outside environment. She could let it swirl around outside of her while she felt stable and untouched within. This was quite a first for her.
We moved on to discuss how she used to view food as a reward. She could see now that food as sustenance had been a mirage all along, a seductive lure that did nothing to shore up her resources and that mindless eating only made her feel less than about herself in the long run. I added that she was now seeing the razor blade hidden away in that luscious looking piece of chocolate, that she was using her x-ray vision to see right through her the illusion that food is a reward.
Self-care should feel good. Eating when you’re not hungry never really does because we know it’s the wrong action at the wrong time. As you give yourself more of what you genuinely need and what is necessary for you, you will feel yourself becoming more solid and stable. Ongoing self-care will keep you strong and able so that when a crisis hits, you’ll be up to handling it. Stability stems from effective self-care which, in turn, makes you feel more secure and centered. This is the only path out of mindless eating and certainly the only one that will bring you emotional health and happiness.
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