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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How to Achieve Positive Self-regard

If you’ve ever been in therapy or read self-help books, you know that loving yourself is key to living your best life. Self-love often seems like a squishy term. Here’s one that might be easier to swallow: learning the purpose and practice of positive self-regard.  The Surprising Benefits of Unconditional Positive Regard explains what positive self-regard is and isn’t. It means treating yourself as a fallible human being no matter what you think, feel, say or do. It’s knowing our actions are unhealthy even as we’re doing them, but still seeing them as the best we can do at the time. Or looking back at something we did in horror yet treating ourselves with compassion in spite of it. To be clear, positive self-regard is not unconditional acceptance of our actions. It means holding ourselves in positive regard and still not liking but wanting to change our behaviors. For example, you...
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Self-care is Your Right

A client sent me this quote: “Self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation” by Audre Lorde, feminist and civil rights leader. It got me thinking about how self-care is a right and about how many people don’t know that. It’s not about being selfish or thinking only of yourself. It’s knowing that your primary job in this world is to care for yourself. But, what about taking care of others, you might ask. Isn’t that a must? Aren’t we our brothers’ (and sisters’) keepers? Well, yes, it’s important to help and support others, but not at the expense of not taking care of ourselves. How you think about self-care is rooted in your upbringing. I’ve had many clients who were treated poorly and others who were made to take care of others and punished when they tried to tend to their own needs. In either case, they were never taught that...
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What Is Flow and Why Does It Feel So Damned Good?

A client asked me a while ago what activities I enjoy and why and I explained that, whenever I can, I choose those that put me in a state of flow. If you don’t have enough of these minutes in a day or hours in a week, your well-being will suffer, so here’s an explanation of what flow is and how you can find more of it.  In Why Does Experiencing ‘Flow’ Feel So Good? A Communication Scientist Explains, flow is called “the secret to happiness” and an “optimal experience” . . . “characterized by immense joy that makes a life worth living.” I’m in a state of flow when I’m writing (like now) or dancing or reading an engrossing book. I used to feel it while skiing. I think of it as being so lost in the pleasure of an experience that all else in life falls away. The article...
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Yes, There’s a Link Between ADHD and BED

Here’s an interesting factoid: “Studies show that someone with ADHD is 30 percent more likely to develop binge eating disorder.” When I read this statistic, I thought about my clients, formally and informally diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, who overrate and binged and wondered why I hadn’t thought or heard about this connection before.  Most of my clients self-identify as dysregulated eaters if not binge-eaters, so let me explain what Binge-eating Disorder consists of from a blog of mine: “Criteria include bingeing at least once per week for a period of at least three months accompanied by a feeling of loss of control, eating large quantities of food quickly past fullness, and experiencing shame, upset, remorse or guilt afterwards.” According to Allan Kaplan, MD of the University of Toronto, BED is found in about one-third of higher weight clients. Several of my clients have ADHD, a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by distractibility,...
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How to Handle Bullies

It’s impossible to go through life without running into bullies. They’re in our families, at school, at work, in our neighborhoods and in governmental bureaucracy. Whether we’re talking about a bully in your personal or professional life or one in the political arena, there are best ways and worst ways to manage them—and manage them you must.  In case you’re not sure what constitutes a bully, here’s a general description: self-centered, angry, controlling, demanding, lacking empathy, shaming, disrespectful to others, and acting outside of civility to get their way. They have no sense of fairness and are pretty much all take and no give, though some might appear charming, which might mean they lean toward sociopathy. They may not try to push you or others around all the time, but this behavior is characteristic of them, especially when they want their way. People who’ve grown up in dysfunctional families, with maybe...
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The Benefits of Dance

I’ve been dancing since I was about six-years old. There have been years (more like decades) when I took no formal classes and now, at 75, I take two a week: tap (check out the video) and jazz (due to COVID, on Zoom). I can’t tell you how much joy I get from dance and how much it has contributed to my health and well-being. I don’t mean as exercise for heart health or bone strength, but how much it simply makes me feel connected to my body and good all over. Maybe because I grew up in the 50s and 60s, before thinness became a cultural obsession, I never thought of dance as exercise. It was just, well, fun. And also, a family affair, as my parents, both excellent dancers, took lessons from an instructor with several other couples by rotating hosting houses. Many were the nights when my father...
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How to Choose Beneficial Pain

Although there’s no such thing as escaping pain in this life, when faced with it, we can (and must to thrive) choose the pain that will be most beneficial in the long run. I have one serious quote in my office and it’s the following by Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing:  “There is a great deal of pain in life and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain.” I was reminded of this pain dilemma talking with one of several of my clients who’re thinking about leaving a marriage. Of course, there are many other painful decisions in life, but this one is common and both sides of potential suffering are easy to identify with. My client expressed dissatisfaction with her husband on several legitimate counts—lack of physical attraction to him, their large age difference, and wanting to feel more passion...
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How to Be the Best Learner You Can Be

The most common complaint I hear from dysregulated eaters is that they’re not becoming “normal” eaters fast enough. Their frustration and disappointment are due to misunderstanding what the learning process is all about. It is explained beautifully in How to Keep Learning All Your Life, which also offers a prescription for finding happiness and satisfaction at every stage of life. Authors Robin Abrahams and Boris Groysberg describe a key component to learning: “Experiences of mastery teach people that they can learn, that the initial state of helplessness or confusion in the face of a new challenge will dissipate and be replaced by competence. A healthy learning environment, therefore, provides plentiful and diverse opportunities for people to experience mastery.” They add that such an environment includes, “safety to fail. No one achieves mastery—at crawling, coding or anything else—without some initial awkwardness. Learning inevitably involves getting it wrong, taking too long, forgetting key...
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Turn to Your Wiser Power

A client was talking about learning to self-validate, then brought up seeking advice from her higher power. I asked, “What about your wiser power? What does it have to say?” I suggested it might be helpful to consult with it, since it was easily accessible.  I’m a big fan of wisdom and have blogged about it before. Wisdom is knowing what’s best for you based upon the information you have. It’s mostly comprised of knowledge and experience with a little bit of intuition thrown in. It’s what you’re seeking when you ask everyone else what to do and what you want when you keep playing out scenarios in your head, not knowing which one to pick. Here's the thing with higher versus wiser power. Seeking guidance from a higher power is a way of still looking outside yourself for answers. There’s nothing wrong with that. We can’t know how to do...
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A Last-ditch Strategy to Make Things Happen

I‘ve always found ultimata useful even though many people find them unacceptable. The word means to make a demand that has consequences either way. Frankly, doing that has always sounded very much like simply taking care of business: giving someone choices that have repercussions. But saying that someone must do this or that “or else” sounds to some as if they’re going beyond wielding power appropriately. I beg to differ. Here are some examples. My client Joshua would get calls in the middle of the night to pick up his alcoholic brother, Larry, and drive him home. Joshua complained repeatedly about Larry’s selfishness yet continued to do Larry’s bidding. Joshua tried explaining to him how it ruined his sleep and caused him to make costly mistakes at work after a midnight run. He also tried reasoning with and begging Larry to call someone else.  When nothing worked, I suggested giving Larry...
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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.