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7 posts categorized "Boundaries"

12/18/2012

How to Deal With Jealousy and Sorrow

As we see all the time in our sessions at the White Picket Fence Counseling Center, relationship problems are at the heart of most eating disorders. Often the underlying angst that’s causing people to act out with food can be traced back to an interpersonal situation.

I’ve been practicing yoga for much of my life, but I recently discovered just how much yoga can be a gift for those in recovery from food addiction and eating disorders. And this includes giving us a tool for how to handle difficult people.

Last week, I revealed the first two “locks” – two types of people that we deal with, and the corresponding “keys” that we can apply. Today, we’ll talk about the final two.

First are the virtuous people, who want to tell us about all of the good things they’ve done and everything that’s going well in their lives. For some of us, this could trigger feelings of jealousy or contempt, and even thoughts of revenge or sabotage so we can take away some of these good things (and maybe keep them for ourselves, as if that was possible!).

Instead, the key to dealing with virtuous people, according to this yoga philosophy, is with sheer and utter delight – celebrating with them and being glad for their success. As I suggested last week, you might need to use the 12-step slogan of “fake it until you make it,” but I guarantee you’ll feel better about yourself and have a more peaceful day.

The fourth and final lock – the type of person that might be difficult for you to deal with – is the wicked person. Just like with unhappy people, it can be uncomfortable or even painful to be with someone who seems downright evil. You may react and want to fix the person or situation, or get away from the person as soon as possible.

The key is to detach; approach this person with disregard or indifference. It’s the ultimate practice of non-attachment and setting boundaries. Letting someone be where they are without needing to take on the emotions or the problem.

12-steps programs such as Al-Anon and CODA help people who are dealing with co-dependency and boundary issues.

By responding with friendliness, compassion, delight and disregard, we can greatly improve our relationships with others. This simple system of locks and keys can bring the peace we find in yoga and mediation out into the real world of our day-to-day lives.

Maybe it can also help us deal more compassionately with ourselves, when it’s us having the negative thoughts or doing other things we’re not proud of. Maybe today we can detach from our suffering, delight in ourselves, feel proud of ourselves and be happy for ourselves.

12/04/2012

Dealing With Difficult People

Much of what we deal with in counseling sessions with our clients is healing relationships. When you are recovering from food addiction or an eating disorder, difficult relationships can sometimes trigger the compulsion to relapse.

We can use food or exercise in unhealthy ways, or obsess about body image, as defense mechanisms that help us avoid dealing with people. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t given proper relationship skills growing up.

Maybe some of us learned some resiliency, but for the most part we have to constantly learn and re-learn how to navigate relationships, whether at work, in play, at home or in the community. Each lesson usually comes out of painful conflicts that are the underlying cause of our angst.

Whether you’re back in close quarters with family members over the holiday season, or dealing with difficult people at any time of year, the right tools can help you detach from the drama and stay committed to your recovery.

Though I’ve been practicing yoga for years, I’ve recently ramped up my study of yoga therapy and the principles of yoga. We’ve started a yoga therapy program at the White Picket Fence Foundation building, with more groups and classes planned for the future.

I’ve also discovered a fascinating, simple and effective concept for how to stay peaceful in all of the relationships and interactions in your daily life.

While it can seem as though we’re up against many different kinds of relationship problems, this yoga philosophy teaches that there are actually only four types of people we deal with – called “locks.” The beauty of this concept is that for every lock, there is a key!

Over the next two weeks, I’ll share about these four locks and their corresponding keys. With these four keys in your pocket, you’ll have what you need to navigate any interactions, even challenging ones, over the holidays and beyond.

The most important goal is to find peace, whether that’s through meditation, yoga, journaling, therapy, calling a friend or another tool. If we have a serene mind, we’re not in disorder or dis-ease and we don’t have to use or abuse food or our bodies because we don’t have to change the way we feel.

09/19/2012

How Relationships May Change in Recovery

As soon as you take your first steps in recovery from an eating disorder, your relationships will start to change. By the time you enter into the maintenance stage of living in recovery, you may focus more of your efforts to dealing with this. By now, you're feeling more comfortable about your day-to-day eating habits and you have many tools and people to reach for when things come up.

With the people who have been in your life for many years, there will likely be communication and relationships patterns that no longer fit with your new version of self. Now that you are more confident and comfortable speaking your mind, people may not know quite how to handle that.

Perhaps you used to be controlled by people pleasing, doing anything to avoid the guilt associated with letting someone down. Perhaps the people around you aren't ready to accept an inter-dependent relationship, rather than a co-dependent relationship with you. As you change and grow, not everyone in your world may jump on board. This is a big adjustment for everyone.

If you're not paying attention to these relationship issues, other people can easily trigger a "lapse" into unhealthy food behaviors, or even a full-blown relapse. Watch for sure-fire signs of relationship struggles, such as talking about other people's faults or wishing they would change. You will have more peaceful relationships if you remember that you can only change yourself. You are lucky enough to have these recovery tools at your fingertips – others are not as well-equipped. Practice compassion for others and healthy communication strategies that protect your recovery.

Your relationships can grow with you, if you give yourself and others the time and attention that are needed for long-lasting change.

07/10/2012

Choosing the Words to Share

"Oh my gosh, I'm so stupid!" 

Self-deprecating statements like this can harm your self-worth and affirm negative beliefs that may have been planted earlier in life. It's a worthwhile goal to begin a practice of using different words that are more self-loving

The words we choose don't just affect us; they affect the people we're speaking to. Harsh statements such as the one above can have different effects. The other person may feel uncomfortable, or may want to rush in and reassure us. Either way, it creates uncomfortable tension in the conversation and in the relationship as a whole. 

Another phrase that can have a troublesome impact on relationships is, "I'm sorry." Ideally, when we make a mistake we recognize it right away, apologize and then move on. 

The difficulty starts when you don't consciously recognize you've made a mistake, or you recognize it but don't feel willing to apologize. Either of those scenarios can damage relationships and create emotional turmoil that can lead to unhealthy body image and eating behaviors. 

Another challenge is when we apologize for something that's not our fault, such as the fact that else is experiencing a loss or struggle. Or we spend too much time apologizing or explaining something that really wasn't a big deal to begin with. (For more insights on this topic you can read the article, Make Amends to Make Your Guilt Disappear.) 

I experienced being on the other end of this, when someone was apologizing repeatedly for a simple mistake that was already dealt with. I'd been double-booked for a radio interview, but everything turned out perfectly because the other person was late anyway. But the host just couldn't seem to move on. When I spoke up and let him know that he didn't need to keep apologizing, he said he really appreciated it because he had no idea how it sounded to the other person when he was doing that. 

I always encourage people to find a way to speak your truth to others in a kind way that feels honorable to you and aligned with your values.

02/08/2012

Guilt is a Four-Letter Word

Be honest. How many of your actions and decisions today were driven by guilt? Were you trying to relieve guilt that you already felt, or trying to avoid feeling guilty later?

Using guilt as a motivator starts a chain reaction that can very self-destructive. This is true for everyone, but for someone in recovery from an eating disorder, food addiction, compulsive eating, anorexia or bulimia, this pattern can compound the emotional difficulties you're already dealing with.

When you base your decisions on feelings, including guilt, you tune out rational thought, as well as the self-nurturing intuitive thought that is available by making a spiritual connection.

Let's say you agree to babysit your friend’s kids, even though you already had plans that you now have to cancel. You felt obligated and worried about how your friend might respond if you said no. You didn't think you could deal with your feelings of guilt.

By saying yes to your friend, you may have avoided the guilt, but you've put yourself at risk for feeling resentful because you gave up doing something you were looking forward to. And the discomfort of that resentment can drive you right back towards using food, weight obsession, purging or over-exercising as a coping mechanism.

What's even worse is how guilt and resentment can strain your relationships with the people whose love and support is so vital to your recovery.

If you want to stop being a slave to your guilt, you can start by getting more awareness of how it's showing up in your life. Your journal is a great tool for tracking and reviewing these notes. You can also share your writing with a therapist or trusted friend to get feedback and insights.

If you want to stop guilt in its tracks, try to do less "mind reading" or projecting your own thoughts onto others. For example, maybe you think you friend will think you don't care about her or her kids if you say so no her request.

Again, turn to your journal. Write out all the things you imagine the other person is thinking or feeling. Seeing them in black and white may help you to realize that you can't be sure whether they're true. Getting some objective feedback can help here as well.

There is nothing wrong with being a generous, giving person who does nice things for others. In fact, giving back can help you progress in your recovery. Giving also has a spiritual effect, and is one of the ways I incorporate spirituality into my life.

As with everything, balance is the key. If you're feeling out of balance, chances are that you're giving out of guilt.

08/18/2011

Upcoming Groups and Workshops - New Starts and Ideas

Upcoming Groups and Workshops will help you get a jump start in your personal growth process.  Click here to view and download your own printable copyTell us what you think of the new workshops - let us also know what interests YOU!

05/26/2011

Where to learn more about Co-Dependency and Boundaries

Self Test for You

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see whether your “helping” behavior may actually be co-dependency:
  1. Do you have a hard time saying no to others, even when you are very busy, financially struggling, or completely exhausted?
  2. Are you always sacrificing your own needs for everyone else?
  3. Do you feel more worthy as a human being because you have taken on a helping role?
  4. If you stopped helping your friends, would you feel guilty or worthless?
  5. Would you know how to be in a friendship that doesn’t revolve around you being the “helper”?
  6. If your friends eventually didn’t need your help, would you still be friends with them? Or would you look around for someone else to help?
  7. Do you feel resentful when others are not grateful enough to you for your efforts at rescuing them or fixing their lives?
  8. Do you sometimes feel like more of a social worker than a friend in your relationships?
  9. Do you feel uncomfortable receiving help from other people? Is the role of helping others a much more natural role for you to play in your relationships?
  10. Does it seem as if many of your friends have particularly chaotic lives, with one crisis after another?
  11. Did you grow up in a family that had a lot of emotional chaos or addiction problems?
  12. Are many of your friends addicts, or do they have serious emotional and social problems?
  13. As you were growing up, did you think it was up to you to keep the family functioning?
  14. As an adult, is it important for you to be thought of as the “dependable one”?
If you answered “yes” to a lot of these questions, you may indeed have a problem with co-dependency. This does not mean that you are a flawed person. It means that you are spending a lot of energy on other people and very little on yourself. If it seems that a lot of your friendships are based on co-dependent rescuing behaviors, rather than on mutual liking and respect between equals, you may wish to step back and rethink your role in relationships.If you suspect that your helping behavior is a form of co-dependency, a good therapist or counselor can help you gain perspective on your actions and learn a more balanced way of relating to others.

Here is a list of books and resources about co-dependency and boundaries:

Co-dependent No More by Melanie Beattie
Co-dependent No More Workbook by Melanie Beattie
Co-dependents Guide to the Twelve Steps by Melanie Beattie
The New Codependency by Melanie Beattie
Language of Letting Go by Melanie Beattie
Where to Draw the Line by Anne Katherine, M.A.
Boundaries by Anne Katherine, M.A.
Codependence and the Power of Detachment by Karen Casey
Co-Dependence by Ann Wilson Schaef
Transforming the Co-Dependent Woman by Sandy Bierig

Internet Resources­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­:­
Co-Dependents Anonymous
Al-Anon Family Groups

Are you interested in coming to a workshop in June about Co-dependency and Boundaries? If so, get special e-flyer sent to you in advance so you can register early!  Contact me by email or call our office.