How to Find Freedom from Using Food to Cope with Pain- Part 3
As we started to explore last week, we are looking into the places where the effects of trauma and the actions of eating issues overlap. This week, Natalie explores how to choose fulfillment instead of hopelessness and love instead of unworthiness.
If you are interested in learning more about her work, I encourage you to not miss out on her special complimentary Food Freedom Consultation. During this session, we will get crystal clear about where you are now, where you want to be and you walk away with some tailor-made suggestions and tools that you can implement immediately. Go here to schedule your session now.
Fulfillment Instead of Hopelessness
I remember in the darkest times of my eating disorder, when I was totally certain that there was no changing my eating, my emotions, or my life. I was completely hopeless. I felt sure that I could keep binging every night and that I would be stuck in these awful patterns forever.
One day something snapped. I remember waking up with the horrible heavy feeling the morning after an especially bad night of binging. I was so used to feeling this way, and so sick of it. Somewhere in me, somewhere in the midst of this, there was a tiny glimmer of possibility.
When I look back at that glimmer now, I realize it was the memory of moments when I felt really alive, engaged and on purpose. This is when I really started to look for help. Even though I felt hopeless, It seemed like it was worth trying to do something. It was worth trying to move toward that feeling of aliveness that I remembered.
I remember thinking, “This is no longer what I am going to consider life. There has to be more than this. I remember more than this.” I was no longer willing to be hopeless and to let life happen to me. It became time to start to stand for myself.
It was not easy to slow down the hopeless train and get it moving back in the other direction. I am so grateful that at just that moment, I reached out and found a coach who supported women to find out what they were truly hungry for, and to shift patterns around eating.
I was so surprised that the work that helped me the most during our coaching wasn’t any particular skill to avoid binging, but instead, it was the work that I did around looking at life fulfillment. I figured out what I really cared about in life, what really lit me up, and I started to actively create moments in my day when I felt that sense of aliveness.
What do I really care about? Why change? When it came down to it, none of the reasons to change had anything to do with my body image or my actual eating patterns. It was everything to do with what I actually care about in this life. What makes me feel joy? What makes me feel fulfilled?
When I choose fulfillment over hopelessness, I start to get in touch with that deeper place again. What are those deep hungers? So these days, when I feel that hopeless sensation, I know that that is the time to go back to my core values. I choose an action that will help me live more in alignment with what I care about.
Gratefully, some of the things I care most about are rest, relaxation and kindness. So an easy choice in a hard moment is to take a nap or a shower. Often, this kind of caring action that is in alignment with my personal fulfillment is all that I need to snap myself out of a hopeless fog.
Questions to help you identify your fulfillment map:
- What do you most care about in life?
- What make you feel the most at ease?
- What do you love doing?
- What makes you really upset? This is often a great question to identify when values are being stepped on, which in turn helps you identify those values.
- What was a time in your life when you felt most alive? What were you doing? Where were you? Where there other people around? From these questions, you can pull out your values.
Love Instead of Unworthiness
Unworthiness. Unworthy of love, of acceptance, of kindness. These are the plagues of so many people who struggle. The sense of being unworthy is a trait that bridges between sexual trauma and eating disorders. This feeling of unworthiness can easily turn into a vicious cycle. Because we don’t feel worthy of others love, we would end up binging. Because we binged, we would feel unworthy.
It was so easy to feel unworthy when I was sitting in a pile of binge-trash. How could I be worth anything? I couldn’t even take care of myself. I couldn’t even control myself. I was a total failure. It was at these moment that I would purge. The whole cycle felt like punishment for being unworthy.
Now, I hear those sentences of self-hate, and I wince because I know how untrue and unkind they are. When, I notice these kinds of thoughts run through my head these days, I surround them in loving kindness. I can just imagine readers saying “Well, isn’t that nice for you, but it doesn’t work like that for me. It’s not that easy.” You are right, it isn’t that easy when you first start.
Usually, we keep “love” in our minds as this concept up in the clouds surrounded by cupids. That is why I like to remember that love is actually also a verb. It is something we can actively do.
What is it to love myself? It is to take actions that are kind and caring, and that show adoration for myself.
For me, loving myself looks like taking a walk, getting a pedicure, sitting in my garden, making a bouquet, or eating a brownie at my local coffee shop. It looks like any number of things, but certainly it is about choosing an action that shows care for myself.
When I really take care of myself, through loving action, I am able to actually create worth for myself. By showing myself care, I am showing that I value myself. Inherent in valuing myself is a sense of self worth.
So, how do we get started with treating love as a verb? Start by identifying a list of 10 actions that show love to your self. Once you have created the list, go back through and identify what is the micro-action that would get the ball rolling.
For example, if sitting in my garden is the action, then the micro-action is walking to my back door and unlocking it. Once I get far enough to unlock the door, I will most likely step outside. Once I do that, the loving action will support me to cultivate loving kindness within my thoughts.
Identifying the list, and then identifying the micro-action creates the framework so that the next time you dive into the well of unworthiness, you can have something to grasp onto and pull yourself out.
This is my last post for Rachel! It has been such a pleasure to do this guest blogging. If you are interested in learning more about my work where I support people to find freedom from the inner food battle, I would be honored to give you a complimentary Food Freedom Consultation. During this session, we will get crystal clear about where you are now, where you want to be and you walk away with some tailor-made suggestions and tools that you can implement immediately. Click here to schedule your session now.
If you are curious to find out more about what I do, check out my website at natalieforsythe.com.