DAY 15: I am more than my addiction
What does it mean to live in “active recovery”?
That’s the question we’ll be examining all week, this third week of the 28 Days to Overcoming Food Addiction.
Today, my thoughts on how I live in active recovery in “I am more than my addiction”. It’s not necessarily that my strategies are the be-all-end-all of living in active recovery, but these three strategies work very well for me.
Tomorrow’s live chat will address “Switching the goal from weight loss to living in active recovery” so please join in the conversation!
Wednesday, “Pack your curiosity: finding new resources” is all about making the transition to post-28 Days eating and recovery. Living in active recovery may mean cooking with different ingredients, trying new products, and choosing different restaurants. If we approach these new challenges with curiosity (i.e. “How can I make this work for my family and me?”), as opposed to a mindset of deprivation and struggle, we’re sure to find solutions instead of feeling frustrated and resentful. Which will lead to failure, without a doubt.
In Thursday’s podcast, licensed clinical therapist Heidi Seligman and I will be talking about strategies to help reconnect with our needs through creativity, so you’ll want to tune in for that.
Friday’s post, “Your best eating plan is as personal as your fingerprint” will help you begin to think about how you’ll structure your personal eating plan once we’ve completed the 28 Days program.
On Saturday we’ll look at “Keeping goals in the forefront of your mind” as we move beyond the structure of the 28 Days program.
And finally Sunday will be another “Resource Guide” with more articles, books and videos to further your own study of food addiction.
Whew! Busy week! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves …
I am more than my addiction.
- My thoughts are just my thoughts.
I’m not sure I would’ve ever understood this concept if I hadn’t started practicing yoga regularly a few years ago. Yoga teaches us to be present and to recognize that, while there are thoughts racing through our minds all the time, those thoughts are not necessarily helpful or even true.How can our own thoughts not be true???That seemed so strange to me. But the idea is that our thoughts continually tell us a story about what’s happened to us, who we are, what the motivations are of those we interact with. And here’s the kicker: we’re filling in a lot of gaps with those thoughts, too. Gaps that are based on assumptions, maybe misunderstandings, quite possibly all seen through a faulty lens.
My faulty lens was that I’m not interesting or worthy of someone’s time or consideration. When a friend took a little too long to answer an email or text, immediately my mind would go to: “See I knew she didn’t really like me. This just proves it.” Or some other such nonsense.
We can just as easily fall into the trap of believing that we’re not capable of overcoming our food cravings. You walk into a friend’s house for a football game and BOOM! you’re overwhelmed at the sight of the buffet table. “Man, I’m done for!” you think.
But is that really true or is it just a thought flashing through your mind? Can you make a quick plan to get through the game without overdoing it? Can you quietly enlist the help of a friend who’s there to help you? There are other possibilities than the one that immediately pops into your head.
- Objectify the addiction.
I actually talk to my addiction. Sometimes I scream at it. Usually just in my head, but I’ve been known to have conversations with it in my car. Mine’s female and frankly, she’s a bitch. She tries to convince me that I can’t live without certain foods, that I should just lighten the hell up cause I’m always such a drag, and that nobody would even know if I bought a Butterfinger bar and ate it on the way home from the grocery story. She even knows a good place I could throw away the wrapper so nobody would see.Though of course she isn’t actually a person, I’ve come to realize she’s also not me. When I said in #1 that “my thoughts are just my thoughts,” this is what I mean. She’s been telling me stuff my entire life that’s frankly just bullshit. These days I call her out on it.When I have cravings I hear her voice, telling me to indulge. But thinking of “her” as separate from “the real me” helps me realize that I have options, despite what she tells me. It also gives me the opportunity to look more objectively at my craving and decide for myself if I really want that food or not. Most of the time I just tell her to piss off and mind her own business.
So that works.
- Learning to talk yourself off the ledge.
When you walked into that party to watch the game at a friend’s house and saw the buffet table, there was a moment – just a split second maybe – when you made a decision about what you were going to do vis-à-vis that spread. Our job right now is to make space in that moment. Into that space we insert mindfulness both of our thinking and of our behavior so that we can make a different choice than the one that feeds our food addiction.You bring consciousness into that moment and start to tell yourself, “It’s okay, you can do this. There are plenty of healthy things on the table that I can have. Oh, and there’s my friend Jenny! I’ll ask her to help me stay accountable so that I’ll stay on course. If things really get bad I can always leave early. Yep, I’ve got a plan.”
And that’s really all it is. You talk yourself off the ledge by first recognizing that you’re in a dangerous situation and then problem solving solutions. There are always solutions. If you can’t think of any, text me and I’ll send you some.Seriously, there are always And they’re always better than giving in to the addiction.
As we start to contemplate living in active recovery, I find it reassuring and exciting to realize that I am so much more than this damn addiction. I have more to do with my life than just struggle with this; I have more to give, more to accomplish, more to experience. But to do all of that, I’ve got to get a handle on the addiction.
There is no way around it. We must walk through it.
More tomorrow. Until then, stay strong.