I may have written about this before as it is an issue that pops up frequently for me.
How can I be angry when I’ve been programmed to believe my anger is wrong and shameful and should be hidden? I feel so guilty for my anger, I feel utterly responsible. Overly responsible.
Experiencing Anger as a Child and Teen.
My parents couldn’t cope with my sister and I being angry when we were kids. It was a surefire way of getting shouted at and potentially sent to our rooms, or left in whatever outdoor place we were currently visiting. Fear of abandonment definitely is a block to me expressing my anger healthily and experiencing it as a normal human emotion that it is safe to feel.
We were brought up in a strict Christian environment, both at home and school, and anger was seen as ingratitude and unholy. So this is what became programmed into my trusting childhood psyche. As a child you don’t question, you believe whatever is fed to your mind by adults.
We were never supported or shown how to deal with such a strong emotion, and my own adult experience of anger has been that of a raging toddler in a few isolated incidents. My anger can be intensely fire-y and scares me.
We were always made to apologize even if we had been justified in our anger. This was a pattern that occurred all through childhood and my teenage years.
I wasn’t an angry teenager at all, but I think that’s because I learnt to hide it, and generally expressed it by going to my room and silently balling my eyes out. I felt so ashamed and worthless and the anger became directed at myself and developed into a deep hatred of myself and my (perceived) lack of control over my emotions.
My Present Anger & Binge Eating Recovery
Right this second I feel anger for something the sweetest, gentlest, most kind and caring person has done. It would seem a somewhat small thing to others, but to me it is a big deal and I have to remember to support myself in that.
I’m scared of hurting this person’s feelings and of being abandoned by them.
I have a right to be angry.
It is safe to own my anger and really feel it.
There is nothing wrong or sinister about my anger, it is safe and I am in control of it.
Learning to allow myself to feel unpleasant feelings is something I’m working on and has been a key aspect of my counselling for binge eating.
Instead of stuffing these emotions down with food, I’m writing about them.
In fact my mind hasn’t even turned to food this morning in order to stuff the emotions down, which is a huge improvement for me.
I feel a small sense of achievement for that.
Doreen Virtue: Emotional Expression Through Creativity
Doreen Virtue is an author and spiritual teacher/healer who I truly admire and believe in. She writes about God, but more specifically about angels who she teaches are God’s messengers and helpers. They accept and love us unconditionally and are very much wish to help us, but can only do so if we ask.
She is somebody who has really helped to change my view of God as an all powerful, fearful judge of right and wrong, to one of an unconditionally loving God, who showers us with blessings and wants us to be happy and fulfilled.
She talks in her The Courage to Be Creative of how experience of our emotions and their expression is natural and healthy. In fact she dedicates a whole chapter to The Courage to Feel Your Feelings. She talks about how suppressing these feelings can cause us to be creatively blocked and how creativity “offers us a healthy and lasting outlet for understanding, expressing, and healing emotional pain.”
So here I am doing just that.
For somebody I admire as a spiritual teacher to talk about feeling and expressing emotion, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is quite freeing for me. Taught the opposite at an early age, I’m starting to believe that I am completely loved and loveable for the person I am, as a human being, anger included. We all are.
So much has changed in the last 18 months it all seems a little surreal!
It was a scary move. I’d been in the relationship for 11 years and had become so comfortable having our own house, living in a lovely area, and with our beautiful dog- who I was heartbroken to leave. Despite the unhappiness between the two of us, we did try to make it work, and we still care about each other, but as friends. I regularly dog-sit, so I still get to see my gorgeous girl.
It was a really tough decision and I still can’t believe I was brave enough to do it. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do.
My happiness now has really made me realise how important it is to be true to ourselves, even if it means sacrificing other things.
Binge Eating & Counselling
My binge eating has definitely worsened since the move. I think this is because I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself when I don’t have someone else’s needs to consider, and a dog to look after. I’ve spent too much time in my life trying to look after other people’s emotions, and not enough time looking after my own. So, as I posted back in May, I took the step of getting counselling for my disordered eating and body image.
I feel I’ve struck the jackpot with my counselllor- she is fantastic, and it feels right.
She’s really helping me to work on identifying how I developed such low confidence and self-esteem, and how I can nurture and parent myself. This is most definitely going to be an ongoing process.
The most uncomfortable I have felt so far is dealing with other people’s reactions to increasing my assertiveness. Having grown up a people-pleaser, upsetting others is extremely scary! But she’s helping me to see I’m not responsible for their reactions when I’m creating a boundary- so I don’t allow myself to be walked all-over.
I’m beginning to realise that there is a healthy level of selfish-ness!
Binge triggers have been relatively easy to identify so far:
I think the main reason I binge eat is to stuff down the emotions of the past. I’m grieving for my inner child and the things I went through at that time. I’m a little scared of my inner child though, as she is very very angry and likes to have temper tantrums!
I’m learning to manage that anger in a healthy way.
It’s not about losing weight.
It’s not about losing weight- I can’t stress this enough.
I am not on a diet.
I am focusing on managing my emotions and my own needs. The healing comes through this, not through calorie-counting.
I am learning to love my body the way it is. I can still walk and be active and function pretty well! That is something to be profoundly grateful for.
I am really grateful also for the counselling that I am receiving at low cost. It is providing much-needed support. The universe is looking after me- and I am thankful!
I’ve recently started to accept the full extent of my binge eating and the fact that no amount of dieting is going to help me overcome the psychological basis for it. So I started counselling yesterday at a specialist eating disorders organisation. You don’t have to have an official diagnosis- which is handy as I don’t have one- though I’ve always seen it as binge eating disorder, as I don’t purge, or use laxatives, which would qualify as bulimia.
My counsellor is lovely and helped me to calm down as I was feeling panicky!
I chatted mainly about my experiences in childhood and as a teenager. There is a lot of rubbish stuff that needs to come out of me. I always wondered whether talking about abusive experiences would ever really help me, but now that I am ready to talk about them I feel that I would be somehow ridding my body of the toxicity of the emotion and energy attached. I feel a need to rid myself of this toxicity and this feels like the right way to do it.
I know Slimming World and Weight Watchers can’t help me with my psychological issues. I use food to soothe the pain of the past. I abuse my body as I have learnt that bingeing does temporarily soothe that pain.
But I also realised recently just how much time, money and energy I put into my binges. I worry about where and when I’m going to get my next binge stash. I worry about finding the privacy to binge, of being found out, of hiding food packaging from my housemates. I always wrap the packaging up in black bin-liners and take it straight outside to the main bin. I’m anxious about being caught amidst the shame of my lack of self control. The anxiety and effort of it all are exhausting!!! Lol!
But, do you know what? I really am starting to believe that I can overcome this. It is going to be about working on loving and taking care of myself. I really am starting to believe I deserve to have a great life and be happy! Food can’t take the pain away, or re-write an abusive past, but the more I love and care for myself, the less I will feel this pain. It will take patience as I think this is going to be an ongoing project, but I am loved and supported and for that I am truly thankful.
Since I posted on Saturday I have been meditating to ground myself. Only a few minutes every few hours. It’s worked so far!! I feel more at peace with myself, though am still working with a few things.
I’ve used food for comfort since I was a kid. A dip back into pretty bad depression over the last 6 months has led to an increase in my food antics and a fast 16 pound weight gain. My knees have definitely noticed! My BMI is nearly 39, which is not good.
I think I’m at my limit now, where I say “Right, that’s enough now. No more.” There is no more denying the effects of what I’ve been doing, and the fact that it’s making me feel worse, not better.
Jacket potato & baked beans
Eggs & salad.
Even a salad sandwich and some soup.
I know I can do this. It’s just a case of re-programming my brain! Lol!
I don’t want to eat in secret, feeling so guilty and ashamed. I need to replace the buzz of shopping for binge food and guzzling it with something more loving and nurturing to myself.
I need to remember my dreams are important, so use these as a replacement! If I want to draw, I will draw. If I want to sing, I will sing. If I want to write a silly story, I’ll write a silly story!! I will resist the urge to tell myself there is no point in doing any of this, and remind myself that theses things are important- they are part of BEING who I am. I believe that we are all expressions of God’s spirit- being who we truly are (from the highest perspective of unconditional love) is what we are here for!
I’d like to reconnect to the childlike joy I used to feel when drawing and making up little stories, and dancing and singing. Joy brings light to the world!
Slow, but healing.
It’s definitely a slow day today too. Slow thinking, slow walking.
A very interesting observation was made by the psychiatrist Dr Russell Razzaque, author of Breaking Down is Waking Up. He took up mindfulness meditation for his own personal development and whilst on a retreat noticed something curious. During mindfulness exercises the participants were aiming to slow their thinking and their walking, to observe themselves. He connected this with what happens in depression- our thoughts and movements slow down. Could it be that our minds and bodies are actually healing us through depression? I definitely like to think so!!
So with that in mind, I will trust that I am on the right track, and to listen and act on my intuition, rather than dismissing it as airy fairy.
I’ve done really well today so far! I’ve started my new sleep schedule over the last few days (bed by 11.30pm, wake up at 8am) which I’m keeping to and I went for a short walk this morning and did about 20mins yoga and some meditation.
So why am I down on myself all of a sudden?
I’m scared of the thoughts that are creeping in, and feel anxious about them. This is the sequence of thoughts once I got out my sketchbook and pencils:
1. “I can start to do this art work, but there’s not much point as everything I do is rubbish and it’s not like I have a career out of it.”
2. “I have nothing else planned for today. I must do something productive or the whole day will be wasted.”
3. “I could go and get some biscuits and chocolate and watch some movies/tv, then sleep off the sugar hangover. (Feel excited by the prospect).”
This is when I decide to blog first. Writing out a conversation with myself yesterday really seemed to help pick me up.
I’m going to respond to the first thought, as it seemed to trigger the others:
Why do you feel this way do you think?
I’ve never studied past GCSE level (high school). I’m behind everyone else my age. Nothing ever looks the way I want it to. I don’t enjoy it anymore.
If you don’t enjoy it, maybe you don’t have to do it?
This voice, could it be your inner child?
Yes, I’m certain it is.
Why don’t you want to let her speak?
Because she can be scary and out of control. That same part of me that wants to create, my inner child, she has had major tantrums before and can be completely out of control.
This is what young children are like! They know how to express themselves! But adults teach them to suppress these ‘difficult’ emotions, usually because they can’t handle them themselves. Sometimes children aren’t taught to deal these feelings in a healthy way.
What is a healthy way to deal with feelings of anger, disappointment, shame, etc?
Well, let’s look at how you feel now?
Ashamed that I can’t function like a normal person.
Ok., so how do you think you ‘should’ behave? What do you see as being ‘normal’ behaviour for an adult?
I should have a job and be earning my own money. Not scrounging off the government. I have heard so many working people express anger and resentment at having to pay taxes, so that others can have benefits.
Ok. So how much income tax actually goes towards benefits? It is 20%. (UK) Therefore the working population are taxed 80% for many more things. Why are you so worried?
People will hate me and ridicule me. I feel so ashamed at not being able to support myself. I know I have more potential.
It is highly unlikely anyone will bat an eyelid about you being on benefits. Other people are wrapped up in their own lives. Any ill-wishing you receive from them is their karma, not yours. It is time to start releasing the need for the approval of others, a little bit at a time. It is safe for you to be you! It is safe for you to express your feelings and to paint and dance and make a mess!! Please don’t expect for this healing to take place all at once. It is likely to happen gently over a long period of time, so that you are not overwhelmed.
What do I need to do?
Be aware. Be aware of when you are trying to please others or gain approval. Be aware of when you are putting their needs before your own. You are your world. You do not need to make others feel safer or be responsible for their fears and insecurities. People are generally living their own lives, and aren’t too concerned about what others are doing, as long as it doesn’t affect them.
Why do you feel you should have a job like everybody else? Why can’t you do the things you love and make money that way?
Because it’s standard and acceptable to society. It’s easy to go with the majority. It’s difficult to forge my own path. I don’t know how I would start! Having a mentor would be very helpful. I don’t believe I’m good enough. I don’t believe I’m worthy of earning money for doing something that makes me happy!!
But you are worthy and you are good enough! Other people are doing it so why shouldn’t you?! Why do you feel so unworthy?
I don’t know. It still feels too childish. I want to feel deserving of earning money by being my childlike self and drawing or painting, writing, or creating in some other way. Or helping people! I feel if I’m earning money then it should be by directly helping others. Being creative feels selfish.
You are worthy. You are good enough. You are talented and deserving of using this talent and nurturing it. By being creative you are shining your own light into the world and making it ok for others to do the same. You are forging a path through which others can follow. You are making it easier for them! Therefore you would be helping others by being creative! You would be helping others to shine their love and light into the world!
It still feels difficult to draw or paint. I still feel a resistance to it.
It will take time, patience and practice. Start slowly- maybe even 15 mins of doodling at a time. Opening up to your creativity, it will be very healing and open many new doors for you! Allow yourself to feel worthy! Allow yourself to receive from the universe- be it financial gifts, or spiritual ones!
Thank you for the guidance and for caring enough to sit and listen to me.
So I don’t feel loads better. But I am grateful for the guidance, whether this is from my higher self or a spirit guide. I am grateful to myself for writing, rather than running to the chocolate straight away. I am grateful to myself for at least trying to overcome unhealthy habits. I am doing my best in these circumstances with the tools that I have.
I love and approve of myself just as I am.
I am worthy of living as my true self.
I am worthy of expressing my true self creatively!
I’ve only been up two hours on this gloomy day, but I felt my mood dip within 30 minutes of wakening.
My Lumie lamp is a blessing on such a day and really helps to keep my mood up. It’s basically a lamp emitting natural light, and is designed as therapy for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I’m attempting to curb the comfort eating that I automatically resort to every day at the moment.
I feel bloated and very out of shape at the moment.
I feel all these negative thoughts building up. So I want to have a conversation with myself to see what’s up. I know I try to avoid looking at any problems I’m having.
How are you feeling today Rachel?
Blue and bored and a bit lonely. I don’t like myself very much for all the comfort eating and lack of exercise. I have little will-power or self-discipline.
What is it about eating sugary foods that helps you?
It distracts me from negative thoughts and feelings.
They feel bad and uncomfortable. I don’t feel able to deal with them. They feel too much to cope with. I feel like a bad person if I have negative feelings and thoughts.
You are not a bad person for having low vibration thoughts and feelings. It is all part of the human experience of growth and learning. It is safe to look at these feelings and really experience them. They might not be as scary as you think.
I feel really ashamed that I can’t control my eating. I worry so much about what other people think of my body shape. I worry about my physical health. I’m so disappointed in myself.
How can you see this in a loving, compassionate way towards yourself?
I developed my eating patterns as a coping mechanism. The depressions I have experienced could have claimed my life on a few occasions. It was natural that I should find any means possible of surviving those dark times. The fact that these patterns have continued is natural if unhealthy. It is my inner child who needs the soothing. She still calls out for love and attention, but I deny her.
Why do you do this do you think?
I don’t feel worthy of expressing my creative side, that my inner child longs to experience.
Wow! I can’t believe you feel like that! Maybe you could see what it feels like to allow yourself to create?
It feels unsafe. I feel like I’ll be found out and punished.
That’s so strong!!! That’s such a strong belief!! I do feel scared to create! I’m quite shocked that I feel that way- or some part of me deep inside does. I was teased as a child, at school, because of my magical stories I wrote about unicorns and pegasus, which would get read aloud in the classroom. But it got to a point where the teacher asked me to try writing about something else next time. But it is these magical worlds that I love to express.
I feel bad when I draw now, or paint.
Why is that do you think?
It makes a mess. I need to have things cleared up or my parents get annoyed.
But it’s normal for a child to make a mess!
It was safer to keep my parent’s happy. I hated being told off. It felt so scary. It felt like they disapproved creativity and steered me towards sciences. Art wasn’t a suitable career choice.
But it is safe for you to create now! You don’t need to tell yourself off just because your parent’s didn’t allow you to be childlike!
I think this will take some working through. But I will try and do some artwork or write some stories. Starting off a little bit at a time.
Is there anything you feel thankful for today?
My Lumie light- it’s bringing some sunshine to my day.
My boyfriend, and the fact I get to spend lots of time with him at Christmas.
My new crystals.
The mind body spirit fair I went to at the weekend- I really enjoyed it.
The fact I can have a whole day to myself and not have to be anywhere or do anything (just for 1 day is nice).
All the books I have to read!
The fact I have the opportunity to improve my body condition. Some people don’t have this privilege.
I love and approve of myself just as I am.
It is safe for me to be childlike and creative.
It is safe for me to look at and experience my darker feelings.
I am worthy of improving my health.
I enjoy preparing and eating nutritious food.
I am a beautiful person, even if I don’t feel like it!
I am talented, even if I don’t always believe it.
I am worthy of using and developing my talent.
Spiritually this is a time to let go of old patterns, habits, fears, emotions & beliefs (or “baggage”) that no longer serve us. This is an extremely healing thing to do & helped me enormously in overcoming the parts of my Bipolar Disorder that medication couldn’t touch.
Layers of Healing
Since I quit my job a year ago I’ve been trying to release as much baggage as I possibly can. Every time I think I’ve finally forgiven somebody (including myself) for long-running, deeply-felt grievances, I end up finding new threads of resentment stealthily growing again. The emotions are always lessened in intensity compared to how they were a year ago though, so I’m thinking that we can only release small layers of baggage at any one time. This is perhaps more gentle on us. We are healing one layer at a time.
Simple But Not Easy
Releasing all the baggage is not something you can do overnight. I honestly used to think it was. Self-help books would suggest releasing old baggage as if it was the simplest thing in the world to do. It is simple, but it’s definitely not easy.
I believe the key is to start with the intention to release old patterns/beliefs/habits/fears/resentments.
Affirm as often as you can:
“I am willing to release old patterns”.
Even if you don’t feel willing yet, you will begin to. Once you’re in that space of willingness, you are then able to begin work on releasing.
I still have so much to release though!! One of my main negative habits is my food addiction. I am rather resistant to releasing this one (to say the least)! I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be dragged away kicking & screaming from my beloved Ben & Jerry’s, though I certainly hope it doesn’t get to this point!
I’m going to work on being willing to release my unhealthy eating habits.
I also have to remember that it is often the behaviour/the habit, I am addicted to, not necessarily the food.
I’ve started changing the habit by increasing my daily intake of fruit & veg. This tends to work extremely well the first few days after supermarket shopping, when I’m more inspired by the lovely fresh produce. But as the fruit & veg runs out over the week, or goes off, well-intentioned convenience store visits for apples & salad become binge-eating triggers. Training myself to walk past the chocolate/biscuits/ice cream/cake-aisles has definitely got to be at the top of my “releasing” plan.
Judging myself & others harshly is definitely another pattern I want to release. I don’t think I realise I’m doing it half the time.
If we judge someone else on the street as “fat”, what we are really doing is setting a standard by which we judge ourselves. If we get that fat then we will judge ourselves as harshly as we judges that other person- if not more so. I’ve felt absolutely despairing over my body image before- like it was completely disgusting. I was so cruel to myself! I think I thought it was the only way to lose weight- to bully myself. In reality this just made it worse!
I need to stop looking in the mirror and criticising myself all the time!!
I will look only at my beautiful hair, skin & eyes!! And I will appreciate every little bit of these wonderful things I am blessed with!!
I believe releasing baggage is one of the keys to overcoming many mental health conditions. I do believe that there are conditions where biology takes over, but I also believe that medication can never help 100%. This is where we can help ourselves by beginning work on being willing to release old patterns & experiences of the past, then form the intention to heal them. This is a great starting place!
After a lovely bout of PMS last week I thought it might be handy to share the Bach Flower Remedies I find most helpful to ease the symptoms.
Impatiens: for impatience with others.
Beech: for when you feel you want to verbally lash out at someone.
Holly: calms anger/aggression.
For Low Mood:
Mustard: relieves depression.
Olive: revitalises when you are shattered.
Cherry Plum: for when you feel out of control or worry that you will lose control.
Bach Rescue Remedy is an alternative option- it will aid in balancing the emotions.
To learn more about Bach Flower Remedies and where to buy them please click here.
After reading lots of other blogs this morning, a common theme kept cropping up about looking after ourselves.
I haven’t been looking after myself at all well recently, particularly in the area of food. ( I’ve been pretty depressed and anxious so my motivation is low). So I’m writing this to help me get motivated and to FOCUS (I’m so distractible it’s untrue!).
1. Cooking- arghhhh!
One of the things that I always let go of first, when I’m struggling with my mood, is cooking. My disorganized brain can’t seem to cope with planning meals, getting all the needed groceries, dealing with “best before” dates, preparing food and trying to get everything to cook so that it’s all ready at the same time! It always feels like so much effort and time-consuming. I just can’t find the motivation when I’m depressed.
Other obstacles that crop up are anxiety/panic in the supermarket itself, planning meals for myself and my super-fussy boyfriend (who hates vegetables/potatoes/cheese & lots of other staples), my sugar-addiction ( trying not to buy chocolate/biscuits/cakes etc is extremely challenging), and the fact that I HATE touching raw meat/preparing it. I’d prefer to just buy pre-cooked meat all the time or go veggie. My partner is a real meat-eater though!
Actually, writing all these obstacles down has helped me to see that I really am up against some quite tough odds when it comes to shopping/cooking! No wonder I don’t want to deal with it when I’m depressed! Might start thinking about shopping online and having the food delivered.
2. Planning as a Defence Against Emotional Eating
I have a really strongly-ingrained emotional eating habit, developed over the repeated depressive episodes I’ve experienced, which I really feel I want to tackle now. The weight I have gained is now impacting my health and I want to change. I’m ready.
This morning I woke up and the first thing on my mind was to plan what I was going to eat this week. I know what’s good for my body, I know how to eat healthily, it’s just getting into the healthy habit again and staying motivated and focused! I even enjoy eating healthy food when I bother with it!
I was pretty pleased with myself for coming up with the plan and the shopping list. I feel like just making the plan has given me more control over what I will be eating. I like seeing it there. Most of the time I usually have no plan, wait until I’m really hungry and feel the strong need to eat straight away. So I eat junk because it’s quick and handy.
I’ve also been inspired by some of you, obviously healthy-eating, bloggers.
I need to remember I am worth spending the extra time on the plan meals and I deserve to nourish my body. Just because my partner doesn’t like something doesn’t mean I can’t eat it! I am worth it
Exercise I’m not too bad with as I walk my dog everyday: 30-60 minutes per day. It keeps me energised, I enjoy the fresh air and nature, and I often get blog post ideas too!
I need to increase my core strength though as I have a very weak lower back. My back is also pretty stiff when curved in towards me, but flexible the other way. I’m a bit out of balance. So I’m thinking I need to get back into yoga again.
Yoga is another thing I really enjoy once I find the motivation to do it- it’s that initial burst of effort I need to get started that eludes me! (Think I’ll try the Bach Flower Remedy Hornbeam for this. It helps when you become tired at the thought of doing something, but once you’re started you’re OK).
4. Doing Things We Love
Again this is where I struggle with finding that initial burst of energy for the first spurt of effort needed, as well as the initial motivation. So when I get depressed I just drop these activities fairly quickly:
Playing piano, singing, drawing, browsing through my many over-sized books for art inspiration, meditating, listening to my extensive music collection!
Maybe if I plan small chunks of time on each one, that will seem more manageable and less like a gargantuan task!
Yoga: Not Just An Exercise by Psychology Today
Emotional Eating and Weight Loss by WebMD
Emotional Eating: When Diets Don’t Work by Health Habits
CBT For Depression by BPD Recovery– This is actually about Activity Scheduling whilst Depressed.