Monday, May 11, 2009

Chapter 5 exercises from "Anatomy of a Food Addiction"

Chapter 5 in "Anatomy of a Food Addiction" is called "Nature's Telegrams" and deals with messages from the body and brain. It talks a lot about feelings, the origin of feelings, and makes a compelling argument for articulating the experience of feelings (through drawing, writing, sculpting, some kind of visceral expression) vs. just thinking about them, arguing that "the symbols [of a/produced by a feeling] are too fleeting for meaning to emerge" if one talks about them, ie, getting feelings out of the mind and experiencing them more clearly.

(I really hope that anyone reading this blog who thinks this book can help them goes out and picks it up. My synopses here do not fully do it justice, but I include them as part of the process I'm going through prior to surgery and lifestyle change so that I can track my assignments and such. There is a lot of detail and great insight in the actual book that is definitely lost in translation!)

In talking about following a feeling all the way through, the example author Anne Katherine gives is that of grieving the death of her close friend. She not only misses her friend and the unique friendship between the two of them--she misses what her friend taught her about life simply by being who she was. By dealing with the full spectrum of losses involved in her friend's death, she was able to articulate her feelings and grieve more completely, surrendering to the grieving process and healing more completely. (As time goes on, the pain became more manageable, but the only way out is through--that was the message I got from it.)

The author shares her personal process in tracing the origin of her feelings. The assignment for my group was to flesh out our "portfolio of beliefs" that are discussed on page 88--the ones that we have held from a very early age, the ones that are probably not working for us now. These are beliefs about ourselves and the world that we have held so long and seen reinforced so often that we believe they are true.

What might be in a portfolio of beliefs? Well, I can tell you what was in mine:

1) There is no such thing as a safe person or place, so I will have to define safety for myself and take whatever measures I deem necessary to keep myself safe, even if they are only in my mind, because no one is ever going to protect me.

(2) The less I need, the less I will be hurt.

(3)People are never nice unless they want something.

(4)I can take care of myself later. My needs can wait.

(5)Know everything you can so you cannot be caught off guard. Be ready to run or fight physically if you have to.

(6) Feeling too much is a sign of weakness, and besides, my feelings don't really matter.

(7)It doesn’t matter who I really am, because no one is watching or listening.

(8)I am ugly.

(9)I have to hurt myself (put myself down) before anyone else can hurt me.

(10)Anger saved my life.

Some of these things are partially true. Some of them are not true at all. Taken at face value in black and white, not one of them is healthy.

Anne Katherine talks about four things that have to happen for a belief to be changed (p. 89): (a) we have to be conscious that we hold the belief; (b) we must see what the real truth is; (c) we must experience the full range of feelings about the causes and consequences of the belief, allowing ourselves to grieve the losses we've suffered as a result of the belief as well as the loss of the belief itself; and (d) we must receive care for the pain we've suffered.

On page 92, she lists some of the things that promote recovery: taking care of unfinished business as it comes up; expose your basic beliefs and fears about yourself and the rules you developed to survive; stop blaming yourself 100% for those beliefs and fears and take a look at everyone who participated in their implementation; protect yourself from people who continue to reinforce those beliefs; expose yourself to people who believe in you and want the best for you; identify which feelings it wasn't safe for you to have; take care of yourself by not allowing any further experiences of deprivation, abuse, or abandonment; hang around healthy people; learn coping and relationship skills; find safe places to start breaking your old, worn-out survival rules.

She also emphasizes how important it is to build a support system if you do not already have one in place. If it helps, make a list of who's safe and who isn't, and keep it in mind when you choose who to spend valuable time and energy with.

No comments:

About Me

My photo
Seattle, WA, United States
This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.