Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Strong Is Not the Way

I often hear people say that they have to be strong without understanding the havoc that trying to be that way all the time wreaks on life. First off, it’s impossible. We are not meant to be men and women of steel. Leave that job to superhuman comic book characters, please. We are meant, rather, to live in emotional balance—sometimes we need to be strong and sometimes we need to be (gulp!) weak.

Unfortunately, our media images shine with folks who seem to have iron wills, never give in, do it all themselves, and are never overcome by emotion. Growing up with these images, we may believe that we should always have our lives under control as if we, and we alone, governed the universe. More likely, our parents encouraged us to be “big” boys and girls, by either word or example. Perhaps they provided rigid role models for toughing it out, whatever “it” was, and rarely, if ever, showed their softer side. Maybe, whenever we appeared weak, they prodded us to buck up or even punished, demeaned, or chastised us. Conversely, they may have been weak-willed themselves, so that we vowed early on not to be like them.

Another way that people come to believe they must be strong is because, as children—far too early in their development—they had to muster up all their strength to take on adult responsibilities. They had to continually lay their needs aside to take care of someone else, reign in natural impulses in order to manage someone else’s, or had so much on their tiny plates that all they could do was try to muster the strength to face up to impossible tasks. Back then they learned to be strong because it was what was demanded of their situation, behavior that was highly valued and encouraged.

When childhood messages insist that we be strong, they are only giving us half the instructions for negotiating life. The truth is we cannot be strong all the time, and sometimes the harder we try, the more our weakness slips out. So much overeating and bingeing comes from wanting to give in and let loose. So much denial of food and excessive restriction develops from trying to prove to self that that there is no weakness inside. All strength all the time is a destructive way of being and will only lead to caving in because the self is constantly trying to get itself in equilibrium.

We do not learn to eat “normally” by being strong, but through being curious about our eating patterns and motivations, reflecting on our behavior, having sound beliefs, regulating our emotions in a healthy way, and living a balanced emotional life.

Measuring Progress in Recovery
Riding the Brakes

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