One of the best ways to drive up anxiety is to try to plan for your whole future today. It’s fine to have general goals like wanting to be a surgeon, travel the world, or be able to send your kids to college, but it’s absolutely unnecessary to think you need to know every bend and turn in the road for your future right now. If you lean in this direction of trying to control everything that’s going to happen to you in your many tomorrows, you’re setting yourself up for heightened anxiety and turning to food to reduce it.

Here’s why. If you’re still under 30, you may not realize that life has a way of doing what it wants regardless of your desires. Maybe your life has gone swimmingly so far. You’ve been fortunate enough to have a great family, no major losses, enjoyed friends and getting your way from being accepted into the college of your choice to landing your dream job. Maybe nothing terrible has ever happened to you other than that your pet rabbit died when you were six and you or your family moved across the state at the end of your high school year. If so, wonderful, you’ve had a stable start to your life.

However, those of us beyond 30—and maybe some of you under it—know without a doubt that your life will not continue to roll so merrily along. Friends and family members will have terrible things befall them and die, accidents will happen, fortunes will change, and you will more and more hear the words “No” and “Not you.” And this is where you trying to plan out your future in one fell swoop will stop working for and start working against you.

Things happen because they do. Bodies deteriorate. That’s how they’re made. Other people want something as badly or more than you do and they get it and you don’t. People make large mistakes that affect you and everyone you know. What you thought you wanted back when isn’t right for you now and you feel stuck with it unfairly. “If I only knew,” you think. The point is, you couldn’t have known. This is life—often fun and often insufferable and tolerable only with great forbearance.

So, plan away, for today or tomorrow or the weekend. Have some general goals for the future—a trip, changing jobs or returning to school someday. Have hopes and dreams for yourself and your children. But don’t plan out your entire life, then try to control making it go your way, as if you’re playing dolls with Barbie or Ken. This attempt to devise and dictate your own (or your children’s) future is a downfall to many dysregulated eaters and a sad set up for mindless eating. It’s a sure way to miss out on all the fun twists and turns and to spend your final days in disappointment and regret.

Best,

Karen

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