Emotional Reactivity? Our Emotions are linked to our body.. What?

One thing I have noticed working with eating disorders is how much the emotional reactivity of someone affects their thoughts, actions and their body sensations.  The eating disorder behavior whether it be through restricting, purging, over exercising, or binging is usually an emotional reaction to a triggering event. I often hear stories such as a mother or father making a comment that is triggering, friends isolating or alienating someone, bullying, a romantic relationship gone awry, the eating disorder behavior is a way for someone to act out their chaotic emotions. I often ask a client of this reaction ” You did this to get back or punish the person who did you wrong or caused you pain but in the end who is it hurting” It often is reflected back to them, it hurts them and feeds into the cycle of self loathing and affirms the belief that they deserve to be punished. In attempting to punish someone else, the cycle ends up punishing them. One of the emotions that I hear come up is anger, anger is one of the most triggering emotions for someone who suffers from an eating disorder. Anger however is a secondary emotion, there is always a bigger emotion almost like the elephant in the room lingering behind anger. Often times we don’t know to to contain or process anger, that is why many people have coping outlets to deal with anger, shame, frustration etc. It can be alcohol, drugs, or eating disorder behaviors. Many times we respond in anger to the words or actions of someone in our life but not only are we responding to what they did or said but how we interpret the meaning of what was done or said. Your body takes on that energy and then inside you feel anger. Our body takes on our feelings and our emotions are what follows. 

One thing I really love to educate my clients on is how to separate from their emotions which is done by teaching emotional regulation. Those who suffer from an eating disorder often have a hard time even identifying the emotions that are stirred up in them so helping them to not only identify their emotions but how it affects their thoughts and body and then being able to regulate them is a powerful thing. That is why I love to work with clients to help them identify these emotions and learn how to think about them, cope with them so they can feel their feelings but not stay stuck in them. There are many great techniques for dealing with emotions, calm music, journaling one thing I find really helpful is opposite action. Opposite Action is a skill from DBT ( Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) .

This skill educates you on one basic fact, every emotions has a leading action. If we feel fear we have an instinct to hide or run away, if we feel sadness we cry etc.

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The second point of Opposite Action is that our actions affect our emotions. It is described as a cycle so if we change our actions we can in turn change our emotions, just as if we change how we deal with our emotions we can change our actions. The big question to ask yourself is ‘Does the situation actually justify the emotion?’ This question will help you know when to apply opposite action & to reverse the cycle. To achieve opposite action it requires you to be very present and in tune with yourself and emotions and you do the work to change the initial thoughts and reaction patterns. 
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It is important to accept your feelings and not judge them or allow yourself to feel guilt or shame for experiencing emotions. My hope is that you realize that your feelings thoughts and emotions are valid and meaningful. We cannot help how we feel sometimes, sometimes our mind and emotions sneak up on us when we least expect it, but through work and time and self awareness you can control how you handle your emotions. 

New Eating Disorder Recovery & Support Group In Orange County!

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The 10 Levels Of Healing!

Today I want to talk about something that I see a lot in working with clients and that is when we are the victim of a trauma, tragedy, life event or circumstance the victimization we feel and pain associated with that stays with us. I work to help the clients I see confront and conquer the victimization they feel in their lives and educate them that they have a choice. A choice to break the victim cycle and begin a process towards self love, strength and healing. 

There are many different ways people heal, it can be through holistic approaches, therapy, acupuncture and many more different outlets. I work with my clients and remind them to be patient in the healing process because it always takes a lot of time and work but it is possible. I think if a person can find the greater purpose of a tragic event or situation it gives them the power to take control and take back what was lost. When we can become aware that we stay trapped in our victim mentalities it enables people from moving on and letting go and it can actually become a role that people embody in all their relationships. 

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I love to use and teach my clients the ten steps of healing taken from the book victim no more written by: Lori Rikowski.

Level 1: Awareness: Identifying with victim behavior ( this is where you start to explore your belief system, make changes and being your healing process

Level 2: Commitment: You commit to change old patterns & begin to practice healing tools. You choose to leave old ways of thinking behind and you follow through with ACTION! Find interests hobbies activities, things that bring you joy, confidence and strength.

Level 3: Results: You notice the results of the changes you are making, your awareness leads you to greater understanding.

Level 4: Processing & Integrating: You have new insights & release old patterns. During this time be present and patient with yourself, set boundaries with yourself and the people in your life

Level 5: Determination becomes stronger: You are determined to create more balance in your life.

Level 6: Increased Awareness: Your increased awareness has led you to be able to identify your patterns and notice when you are in them.

Level 7: Self Worth Expands: Your self worth continues to grow and expand. You start to experience self worth and self love

Level 8: Stopped creating dramas: You are able to go about your life without feeling like a victim, you are able to see people and situations more clearly. You are able to focus on your journey and growth and use a survival instinct rather than a defeatist mentality.

Level 9: Confidence: You have confidence in handling life’s lessons. You accept the world and yourself in the world eve in difficult times. You acceptance results in peace and comfort in even tough situations.

Level 10: Experience: Your life is more pleasurable, you continue to want to grow and be present with the world and with yourself.

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Forgiving our mistakes

I have worked with many different people in the past that come to see me with so many different life issues and hardships and one thing that I notice a lot in working with people is how much peoples mistakes or failures still haunt them. People tend to hold on so tightly to their mistakes and failures that is ends up consuming their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and most importantly how they view and see themselves. In general we as people tend to be very hard on ourselves and often times that can lead to the mistakes we make becoming our own prison that we can’t seem to break free from.

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If you are someone who still feels trapped by unresolved issues with others or yourself. Trapped by the mistakes you have made or opportunities you didn’t take. Then this post is for you to be able to finally face it and let it all go. To do that there needs to be resolution. As human beings a sense of closure and relief is something we all long for and need to be able to feel a sense of peace or to make understanding, often times however we are not able to receive closure for many different reasons. That is why we have the capability to create our own closure. Einstein said some very true and honest words ” Who never made any mistakes never learned from anything new.” To be able to move on and heal we must forgive others but we must forgive ourselves. I love to use this exercise taken from the Hoffman Process book written by: Tim Laurence.

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This is a good exercise to either do alone or if theres a lot of pain and emotions you feel may come out to do with a trusted friend or partner or even suggest doing this with your therapist. Get into a moment of relaxation and quiet place, start to think about the different things that are or have bothered you, things that you hold onto, things that make you feel any pain, guilt, shame or regret. If the emotions start to stir inside you notice your body and its sensations, notice your mind and your thoughts and allow the emotions to flow in and out of you and pass through you. Be aware to not simply bury the feeling but to actually begin to face them and let them go.

Make a list of the mistakes and regrets you have or have made and after each one write …. And I forgive myself

When you are done take a moment to sit and reflect and then take the paper and ritually rip it up. This is your release of all the pain and mistakes that were holding you back. You have faced them acknowledged them and now you are throwing them away. If you try this exercise let me know how it worked for you, what didn’t or your thoughts.

Have a healing week everyone!

Dealing with…. OUR EMOTIONS!!

I think many people in the world have a love/hate relationship with their emotions, other often times struggle with being able to even identify their emotions and the internal feelings that arise within them. I feel that our love/hate relationship and inability to properly handle, cope with or identify the different emotions and states is a contributing factor to why so many people suffer from anxiety, depression fear and addictions. Many people tend to use harmful and negative tools to cope with the abundance of emotions that fills them. For example to numb unpleasant emotions people turn to drugs, alcohol, food. To increase or feel pleasurable emotions people turn to drugs, attention seeking or risky behaviors. Some shut down all emotional outlets all together to avoid any emotions. I feel the more people learn ways to handle identify and cope with emotions the better people will not only handle them but their lives as well. Sometimes we are able to feel emotionally balanced, other times our emotions are so intertwined they leave us feeling confused as our emotions battle it out and often one emotion is so strong that it takes over all control.That is the dangerous part because that is when our emotional state has the power and control to influence not only our thoughts but our actions and decisions. 

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I’m going to address once a week different ways to confront different emotions and how to try to turn them into positives and therefore lead to more positive actions. This week is just my way of introducing this to you. What are your thoughts about this topic? What do you want to know more of or understand? We all have the capability of creating the life we want why waste another day controlled by our emotions, we control them!

20 ways to LOVE your body!

Happy Sunday Everyone! I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback on the 10 ways to a better body image list here’s another greatest of 20 ways to love your body. The more you find the good in you and your body to focus on and embrace less power you give to the negative thoughts that love to try and take control. I hope this post helps you as we go into a new week of 20 new mindsets & things to try to one day get to self love & acceptance!

20 Ways to Love Your Body
Courtesy of NEDA and Margo Maine, Ph.D.

1. Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.

2. Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.

3.Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.

4. Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world.

5. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.

6. Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.

7.Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.

8. Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.

9. Count your blessings, not your blemishes.

10. Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!

11. Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months. Your body is extraordinary–begin to respect and appreciate it.

12. Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.

13. Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.

14.Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good. Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.

15. Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body.
Tell yourself you can feel like that again

16. Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself–without mentioning your appearance. Add to it! Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”

17. Choose to find the beauty in the world and in yourself.

18. Start saying to yourself, “Life is too
short to waste my time hating my body this way.”

19. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired.

20. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.

Reasons not to restrict! Don’t fight yourself, fight the illness!

I hope this helps someone out there. An eating disorder is so powerful because it reshapes and takes control of the mind. How you feel, how you see the world, how you see food & how you see yourself. It’s a mental prison that for so many the idea of breaking free & fighting for that mental control back seems impossible. This list of reasons not to restrict is a great tool to start fighting those eating disorder thoughts that tell you why you should restrict. Initially you may read this and not believe some or all of these reasons, ask yourself why? What automatic thoughts come to your mind reading this list? You may say whats the point in this list none of it applies to me? The more you talk back to yourself & question those thoughts you are having the more you can slowly fight back. The more you fill your mind with some positive light instead of dark. One day at a time , one action at a time. You can do it! 

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