Do You Want to Harm or Heal?

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself how you benefit from your comforting eating behavior? Would you suddenly get a knife and slash away at your arm to relieve boredom, or to feel comforted? Of course not – that would be madness! There’s a name for that type of behaviour – self-harming – and it’s a symptom of great mental distress. Well, I have shocking news for you: overeating and making your body fat is a clear case of self-harming! In fact, in some ways, it’s even worse than the more obvious forms because it’s insidious. That means it’s sneaky and deceptive – it’s self-harming by stealth. It’s so stealthy that you can convince yourself you are not self-harming – but you are. Let me say that again, in another way: Every time you overeat or drink high-calorie junk, especially when you don’t need food for energy (i.e. when you are already satisfied), you are deliberately harming yourself. Overeating is no better or no different than self-harming with a knife – you just kid yourself that it is. When you harm with a knife there is clear evidence of the harm in the form of scars. But look again, your excess body fat is clearer and more visible than any scar – it’s a sign to you and everyone else that you are self-harming, possibly every day.

It’s time for some honesty now. When you eat to numb emotional pain, or because you don’t think you are worth the effort it takes to be healthy, you are using the same technique that an alcoholic or a drug addict uses to bury, numb or forget an unpleasant feeling or difficult circumstances. Rather than changing their circumstances, they artificially and temporarily change how they feel. The trouble is, when they regain normal consciousness they crave a return to the escapism of drink or drugs. Instead of dealing with their problems, they amplify and add to them. Being a ‘foodaholic’ might not sound as bad as being an alcoholic but believe me when I say it is – if not worse. Shocked? If so, good! It’s time for a wake-up call. Remember this: Overeating is not a form of escapism – it’s self-harming. Some people are ‘professional victims’ of life’s problems, deriving pleasure from feeling unlucky and unhappy because it defines them. Does being fat define you? Is it who you are, or is it what you are? Think about this question and write your answer down below: Being fat is _________________________________________ If you think it’s who you are, then you are wrong. Being fat is not who you are, it’s merely what you are, and you can start to change that right now. Being fat is a physical symptom, or indicator, of your behaviors, in the same way that a scar is the symptom of a past trip or fall. But while some scars are for life, being fat does not have to be for life. It does not define you unless you choose to let it and opt for becoming a victim. I doubt that this is the case with you, though, because you are reading this. That tells me (and you) that you want to change and that you want to know how to do it. You are already learning how. Exercise Think of ways you can generate the feelings you want through behaviours that are not self-harming and fat-making. For example, if the feeling you want is ‘to escape’, or to ‘feel numb’ to avoid a negative thought, watching a movie or a natural history programme like Planet Earth will completely take your focus away from you and on to the bigger picture, which is a good thing. Try to come up with a variety of ways of generating the feelings you desire. For example, if your desire is to be happy you could listen to music; look at photographs of happy occasions; call or visit friends, go for a walk…if your desire is to be in control, you could make or create something –write a poem, paint a picture make a healthy meal/snack from a recipe. This exercise is something you can return to again and again, as certain things can make you happy on one day, but not on another.

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