Overeating

It’s Christmas and this is a perennial topic. Feast, the table groans under the rich food. We are just eating and eating, stuffing ourselves till we are ready to burst. Stress? Anger? Why does some people eat that amount of food which are unhealthy and limit quality and time of life?

Most of the people know the relation between overeating and gaining weight. Obesity is one of the major national health problem in Western countries.

Several researches showed that the main reason of overeating is a neurological malfunction which works similarly like addiction. It can be cause by psychosocial factors, stress, depression or environmental elements. Lee and his colleagues published in Science & Society scientific review that there is a similarity between drug addiction and several types of overeating. In both addictions’ background there is a mechanism which is after an expedient behaviour (like eating chocolate) dopamine (happiness hormone) production follows which has a kind of behaviour reward nature. Sugar, fat and salt have a significant effect on our brain. For instance sweet foods have a kind of nice and painkiller effect so the taste of food often gets connected with our internal reward system. With frequent ingestion of sweets its taste links up with the emotion of settling. The reward center in our brain also gets activated by effects like external stressors, depression or the feeling of helplessness. When we get affected by them immediately we want to ease our internal tense. Most of the times we don’t even have time to recognize our appeared emotions, we suddenly discovered that we are standing in the kitchen and having already chocolate or cake in our hand. If our brain has already learnt that food/sweet provided comfort before in similar situations then it’s going to be one of the main coping mechanism (maladaptive) for dealing with negative emotions, like being angry, stressed or sad. (Emotional eating).

Environmental factors

Our environmental factors subconsciously stimulate us to overeat. We eat more when more people are around a table and we are willing to eat till we are ready to burst. (Cohen, D. A. 2008)

What can we do to avoid overeating?

We are all the time in a hurry in this fast word and multitasking which means very often we eat while doing other things, like working, watching TV or travelling. If we split our attention we are not able to pay attention to our internal conditions and what we eat and how much. We don’t even chew our meal properly. Try to focus to the taste of your meal, its texture like a kind of mindfulness exercise. Eat slower and chew properly (min. 30 times) your meal and you are going to feel step by step how much food is enough for your body.

Use smaller plates and glasses to avoid environmental factors. Put smaller amount of food onto your plate.

Pay attention to your emotional condition, be more aware how you feel. Most of the times we eat because of our emotional internal condition. Recognize when you are sad, angry or stressed because recognition is the first step to handle overeating. Look for another relaxation technique, like sport, meditation, taking a walk or talking with a friend. If you feel that it’s too challenging for you, look for professional help.

Eating to ease internal tenses is a maladaptive coping mechanism to handle negative emotions.

“We eat to live, not living to eat”

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a lots of love and joy for the holidays!

 

Co-dependency

What else does a relationship need besides connecting love? Essential is a mutual respect, common view of life, harmonic sexual life, same attitude to financial management and a stable empirical emotional intelligence. These are the basic pillars, without them the relationship is going to collapse, since they are pillars. Most of the people think the relationship collapses when a pair gets separated. However get separated is just the closing. The relationship already has started to collapse when our partner hasn’t been feeling good since a while, desires other things. Desires other partner, different or separated programs, other topics of talk, other rules or other atmosphere.

Why is it so difficult to find a right partner?

To choose the right partner is one of the most difficult life task because our needs change within years and our personality continuously changes as well. Our childhood examples, patterns, traumas and experiences are crucial in a partner choosing process because they determine considerable our behaviour in a relationships. For instance if we “learnt” – saw – in our family as child that “I must take everything” or “I must stay in silence” obviously we are going to follow (not always but most of the times) the same pattern in our relationship as well, like choosing subconsciously an abusive partner following the “learnt” subjugation.

The reason of emotional collapsing in a relationship is mainly that the partners don’t even know themselves and don’t improve their own personality. Therefore they don’t know each other as well and don’t know how to get the partner’s respect, appreciation and love.

What is co-dependency?

We do a lot of things to make a relationship or a marriage work but wise to know that there are boundaries. Someone with healthy personality never let anyone to pass those boundaries. There are things what we can forgive or condone but there are thing what we can’t or don’t want. Those people who always forgive for everything and over-indulge all the time just to keep their partner next to, they are co-dependent.

To be co-dependent can’t exist alone, always requires another person and this is pa(i)rlour game which makes both sides become disordered.

Co-dependency is a process, starting from its development and its upholding both part’s personality declines and can end in different personality disorders. Co-dependency is part of the group of anxieties. Its traits are need of solicitude, sticking to the partner and the fear of loneliness. The co-dependent person is always in a constant mental unsatisfied condition, when his/her own needs are just but doesn’t use or doesn’t even know those methods what with would be able to easy the fear of loneliness and gain some courage to withdraw a bit from the partner onto a healthy level. Both of them would be able to breath and the suffocating ambiance of the relationship would be stopped. This person never makes any decision alone, he/she always needs a kind of a parent who does.

The most common example: Julie has a just expectation that Joe doesn’t cheat on her. If he did, Julie would lost trust in Joe and her feeling of being safe. But to cope with (facing with what this relationship is missing) moves to the direction of forgiveness without reparation. Why? Because Julie is so terrified of something (terrified of being alone, losing status, other people’s opinion or being a single mother) and that’s why she keeps Joe next to her doesn’t matter what it costs. Cognitive dissonancy appears in her, but to release the internal tension of dissonancy Julie uses self-justification to explain to herself what she did and why.

Like:

1. I love so much Joe, I can forgive everything to him.

2. I must keep the family together because this is the best for our children.

3. What’s going to happen with our properties, summer vacations or social status?

So Julie forgives to Joe, that’s how she calls it. Actually she compromises without reparation, exchanging her self-esteem for status or properties and this happens usually without even saying a word. The marital infidelity remains a secret most of the time. They don’t face with the existing serious problems in their relationship and they don’t work on to repair it.

Development of co-dependency

The co-dependent person is mostly from a dysfunctional family. If the parent dominated over the child (misinterpretation – bringing up strictly) most likely the child wouldn’t have been able to develop an independent personality (self) and in adulthood also will need the state of subordination. Will depend on his/her partner or if there is no partner will depend on other people because to solve everything alone is so difficult.

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Often becomes co-dependent a child whose parents set up strict, inflexible and austere codes of morals and forced the child to keep them even with using abuse. The basic pattern of co-dependency after all is the child-mother relationship. Those mothers’ children become co-dependent whose attitude is all about to please other people. Those who are self-sacrificing, serving others without expectations and whom deny their own needs and must serve other people’s well-being. Kind of a mental obligation to sacrifice own needs for the family members and serve them physically and mentally as well.

A child who grows up with a self-sacrificing mother is going to develop a low frustration tolerance, incapacity of waiting and unstable self-esteem. Usually this child estimates himself/herself very low, has the incapacity of recognizing and expressing own needs and doesn’t go for his/her own ideas or needs. Becoming a passive, receptive adult who waits for care and help. That help usually comes but mainly from a partner who is abusive. This is the pattern which repeats itself subconsciously, the need of being subjugated.

A child who grows up in this kind of malfunctioning mother-child relationship is going to choose a partner whom takes care of him/her, whom with doesn’t need to take so much responsibility, asks more and more and becoming demanding and then becoming frustrated and angry till the partner is becoming more and more active and taking more and more responsibility. Co-dependent person plays games in his/her relationship or marriage. He/she is the one who is too accommodating, who needs help, mainly a defenceless person who tries to set up his/her life on the way not taking too much responsibility. Often uses his/her children to get more help or support because in this way it’s guaranteed to get it. In these kind of relationships don’t exist real intimacy and equality which are essential.

Traits of co-dependency:

  1. The co-dependent person is persuaded of being responsible for the partner’s and children’s emotions, thoughts, actions, choice, decisions, well-being and destiny. Feels tense, regret or sense of guilt if the other has a problem. Believes that relationship is an interfusion where she/he must take over other’s burden of choices and obsessively believes he/she must help to solve problems and give advices.
  2. Low self-esteem: often blames and scourges him/herself but becoming indignant at getting criticized or judged. Refuses compliments and appreciations (but this is just a mask because he/she really yearns for them) becoming depressed and feeling bad and useless if doesn’t get positive feedbacks. Feels guilty when he/she spends money for himself/herself. So much afraid of making mistakes, wants to do everything perfectly. His/her communication and mindset is mainly about “should” and “must” schemas.
  3. Repression (suppression, retorsion): co-dependent person is so much afraid of knowing who he/she really is. The reason of this fear is mainly in his/her childhood was blamed very often (also in adulthood can happen) and established a fear of a self like “I’m bad” or “I’m stupid” The often felt “I’m bad” – sense of guilt elbows out of the positive emotions of the self-image from the mind. Repressing positive emotions because he/she is afraid of retorsion which can come from anywhere.
  4. Compulsive: feels strong worry about other’s problem. Small things can keep him/her disturbed. Continuously controls/verifies others and feels emotional satisfaction when able to catch someone making a mistake. Compulsively (he/she calls: very diligently) works, strictly penny-pinching or spend lavishly not finding the happy medium.
  5. Control: doesn’t let things happen or go on the natural way. Believes he/she knows better than others that how to behave or act. Using several different kind of tools to get control, like make others feeling guilty, forcing, threat, advising, dominancy, manipulation or gaining pity. Cen tell exactly how others should behave (husband, wife, children, grandparents) but incapable to tolerate other kind of behaviors because his/her tolerance threshold is so low. While controlling everybody she/he feels that being controlled by others and circumstances.
  6. Denial: doesn’t recognize problems or pretends that those problems don’t exist. Typical that she/he would like to make it look everything is great and fine rather than showing or communicating the reality. Without any real plan he/she comforts herself/himself like; “It’s not that bad as it seems like”, “There are other worse marriages!” so everything is fine. Closes the eyes to not see, or not perceive others’ need because he/she feels being incapable to satisfy them. Main belief is, if things are not told that means they don’t exist.
  7. Dependency: terrified of refusal, abandonment and being alone that’s why takes also very serious abuses (verbal, physical) as well from those he/she is attached to. Not able to feel self-love, self-acceptance and feels nobody loves her/him being on the way he/she is in real. Doesn’t believe that he/she would be able to stay or live alone, so bears even embarrassing situations till he/she is left or abandoned. Holds on to that person whom he/she depends, doesn’t matter the cost.
  8. Communication disorders: doesn’t say what he/she thinks and doesn’t think what he/she says. Often lies but they are white-lies so this behaviour is not condemnable according to her. Has difficulties to get to the point in talks and often gets confused what exactly he/she wanted to say. Not able to say no and just after others’ stated opinions he/she is able to tell his/hers.
  9. Weak boundaries: often claims that not being able to tolerate the partner’s or child’s expressions anymore but let others offend him/her, takes every insults and in the end at one point explodes and becoming completely intolerant. Can calm down after but it’s a circle, so starts all over again.
  10. Lack of trust: Doesn’t trust himself/herself, own decisions, own emotions, friends or other people if they make him/her to face with some things which are not desirable. Wants to trust those whom are unworthy of trust.
  11. Anger: often feels anger, fright and offense but afraid of own anger because he/she believe if he/she shows it, going to be left or abandoned. Repressed anger.
  12. Sexual problems: having the ward role in bed. Tries to ease own anger and offense in sexuality. Afraid of losing control and tries to keep distance emotionally. Has difficulties to express own needs in sex, often forces himself/herself to have it.
  13. Loyalty problems: coming from a dysfunctional family makes an ambivalent relation to his/her own family. He/she would like to maintain a good relationship with the parents, getting separated from them, accepting what they give but in the same time feels anger about they try to interfere with his/her own life.
  14. Progression: after a while becoming depressed and experiencing isolation in the family. The repressed anger turns into self-aggression. Like over-eating, using drugs or alcohol, looking for new addiction.

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Co-dependency is a personality disorder, mainly develops in women because they are more susceptible to falling into the background by their social education, often their independency also influenced by external circumstances. Co-dependency becomes a personality trait, a role and even an identity in the frame of socialization of the family. Its development starts in the origin family and continues with choosing a partner. Our society is success and achievement orientated. Our dual-earner model requires a minimum capacity which is an autonomously working and living man and women, doesn’t support co-dependent relationships. The co-dependent person after not a long time becoming a burden to the partner, whom after in something else or in someone else will look for joyful and energetic recover possibilities.

One of the family members’ strongly controlling behaviour is a stress source for the whole family which “forces” the others to escape or counter-attack (coping styles). That’s why there are so much tense in a family which has a co-dependent member. Another family member revolt but they can’t break out from the “I am here for you!” trap. “How can you leave me? I’m sacrificing everything for you?”

After these typical co-dependent sentences the members struggle and get stick in the relationship. They learn how to adapt the controller and his/her behaviour. “Family is the most non-dangerous place to release repressed anger by controlling others for adults.”

Therapy: self-knowledge and personal development is essential technique for changing a co-dependent relationship. The learnt helplessness which is from the childhood can be changed just if the co-dependent person can believe that being able to change to be true and willing to learn new coping mechanisms.

Picture: centroapi.com.mx

Self-esteem and relationship

Often we hear an approach whereas we should set up a strong, stable and permanent self-esteem because (if we can!), and from that moment it doesn’t matter what people say or how they act with us, it won’t affect our personality negatively. The other approach is the opposite, that is when someone completely surrenders him-or herself to his/her surroundings and his/her mood wavers according to other’s opinion or appreciation (or lack of appreciation). This behaviour is called co-dependency which makes an equality based relationship impossible. Sometimes these kind of people use their partner as a self-definition which is very adverse if their partner doesn’t have a stable and healthy personality. Noticeable that people with damaged self-esteem or being co-dependent usually don’t have a partner with healthy self-esteem or healthy personality. They have a partner with the same problem or the opposite.

We can find the truth somewhere between those two extremes behaviour. The happy medium as always!

I think that person who states that; we can have a stable self-esteem in a relationship where she/he (or his/her opinion, emotions, decisions) is neglected, abused or reviled, or kept in suspense where she/he must be anxious about if the other wants or doesn’t want him/her; is wrong.

Namely to respect my own feelings, my values, my time and my body is also part of building and keeping a healthy self-esteem. If our partner cancel a program in the last moment using petty excuses and expect us to conform to him/her all the time; or after months still doesn’t undertake our relationship in public; or perhaps threatens us to leave when we express our needs which are out of his/her comfort zone and after all how can we state that all these things don’t influence our self-esteem? Usually we are reacting like “this is our problem” after undertaking our negative feelings relating to the relationship which is a kind of denial. More painful to see the reality than to wop it under carpet using self-justifications.

Clients with seriously damaged self-esteem often ask themselves that “What if I give the reason for him/her to behave with me like that?” or “What if I provoke him/her?”  “What if I’m really a difficult person to live with?” “What if I should feel grateful because she/he is with me?” – when they experience unacceptable behaviour from their partner.

(If seriously self-esteem damaged people have a self-centered partner (very often, more than we think), usually the answer is – “Yes, you are, I’m treating you like this because you give me reason to do it.”- self-centered people always find a reason to do it.)

They continuously think about how could they understand their partner’s behaviour (which is necessary to handle it) at the same time the most important question is missing (maybe because already existing trauma from childhood): Do I let him/her to treat me like this?

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Typical symptom of damaged self-esteem in relationship that clients very often experience helplessness. “I would like to have more or better – but do I deserve another?” “I would like to express my needs but are they just?” These people struggle on this duality, sometimes for a long time, like years.

There are two choices; one is to admit that I’m not treated well, it hurts so I must do something for myself (change); or claiming that I’m bad and it’s understandable I’m treated like that (doesn’t require change). You can guess which one what people choose statistically more often.

First step of healing damaged self-esteem is to resolve our denials and other own lies what with we protect our relationship and excuse our partner from treating us badly. Which means “Yes, what is happening with me is destructive!”

After that we have several options, but this first one can’t be skipped. The whole status quo remains as long as we use several different kind of self-justifications, excuses and lies. We can lie but the fact is not changed; we are in a destructive relationship and it’s undermining our self-esteem.

To recognize having a destructive relationship is very difficult for people who are co-dependent for instance. They just can’t imagine that they can exist without their partner even if they are treated badly now. They rather crucify their own well being than change.

To recognize damaged self-esteem and its roots is not so easy, usually requires professional help. Sometimes those roots are buried so deep and very difficult to identify and change them.

Good news is self-esteem is improvable after finding the destructive effects’ origin. If you feel that your self-esteem is vanished, please don’t hesitate to ask an appointment and start your mental training with me.

“That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending – performing. You get to love your pretence. It’s true, we’re locked in an image, an act – and the sad thing is, people get so used to their image, they grow attached to their masks. They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it, they feel like you’re trying to steal their most precious possession.”

― Jim Morrison

Picture: Kate Swaffer

Psychology of blaming

If an unexpected, bad or tragic thing happens in our life, we start to look for its cause. Often we don’t want to know just its cause, also we look for who caused it. “Whose fault is it?” “Who is the responsible for it?” Why is it so important to blame someone for what happened, looking for the scapegoat?

Principle of causality

Looking for the guilty one has few very simple and obvious reasons. One is the characteristic of our way of thinking, like we interpret our world in a relation of cause and effect. It’s clearly visible in children. The principle of causality is a very important element of our socialization and education, part of our motivation to understand our world. Also psychological factors are behind.

What is in the focus of attention?

The other simple reason is the focus of attention. If we are in a situation like actively, then our focus is on the outside world and on other people’s actions. Since mainly just external factors are in our focus, almost natural to see that the cause of our current situation is caused by an external factor. In an experiment psychologists asked people to talk about their own life stories. The subjects attributed more responsibility and attached more importance to themselves when they told their life stories when they sat in front of a mirror. Why? Simply because in this case they got into their own focus of attention.

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I’m a good person!

The background of blaming doesn’t consist of just mental and perception factors, also consists of emotional factors. The most important of them is the protection of our self-image and self-esteem. The principal of causality would automatically make a question that how we are guilty or responsible for this situation or happening. Did we make a mistake? If the answer is yes, that would debase our self-esteem and this is when the well-known cognitive dissonance is starting to work. We are motivated to maintain our – positive or negative – self-image. If this self-image is positive, the consideration of doing something bad can cause tense inside. We can reduce this tension on a several way, like shifting responsibility upon another and blaming someone else is guaranteed as a successful solution of reduction this tense. Of course these kind of solutions don’t support our personal growth. We also can amplify this kind of exemption to our family, our working place or to our community or even to our country members. They get exemption to take responsibility. We truly believe when we say, someone is an adult, that is automatically means that person takes responsibility for own actions. If we start to observe truly ourselves we will see, how many times actually we don’t take responsibility for our actions. It requires a proper self-knowledge which allows and supports to see ourselves as we are truly and after recognition we are able to change.

Why is blaming others so dangerous?

Shifting responsibility upon others to protect our self-image keeps us from learning from our own experiences and mistakes which is one of a requirement of personal growth. It’s the same for those people who have a negative self-image, who always blame themselves for everything because this is in tune with their self-image. This negative distortion keeps them from growth as well. Finding the guilty means we found a scapegoat, we hold the scapegoat responsibility for bad things and we are able to overwhelm with them our negative feelings and anger. Making scapegoats also a very strong cementing force of a group. Like, “together we hate the boss”. Image of the enemy increases a group cohesion which usually doesn’t end up on a positive way, we already have experienced it from our history.

Faith in the righteous world

Why do we look for a scapegoat even if bad thing actually didn’t happen with us? When we are not involved. Like when we see an accident on TV. “Why did he go there?” “Why didn’t he take care of himself?” Or “He must have been drunk!” We say these things without knowing exactly what happened. This kind of behaviour protects our belief in the righteous world. To admit that bad things or tragedies happen with good or innocent people that would shake our belief which is us and our beloved ones are safe. This is the same heart breaking feeling like an attack against our own self-image since the world image is also part of our self.

Instead of looking for a scapegoat we can try to observe ourselves, understanding our actions and take responsibility for them. It’s emotionally challenging indeed but we will be able to see our real self instead of a fake picture what we paint day by day to others. The real danger is when this self-image is quiet far from the reality and nothing sticks. If blaming is permanently present in a relationship that is a real toxin, drop by drop everyday which is a staright way to suffer loss. Here it comes a great book which popped up in my mind while I was writing this post. I recommend it! Oscar Wilde: Dorian Grey

 

From self-pity to gratitude

Stop feeling pity for yourself! Often heard sentence if there are honest people around but it’s not easy to break a self-pity habit. Being trapped in it, is a very passive condition, part of the learnt helplessness. Often people who feel pity for themselves just keep complaining and waiting for someone to solve their problem, not doing anything to change their situation.

How does gratitude work?

In any desperate situations we can find something to be grateful for. Feel gratitude has several positive effects. Gratitude makes our relationships with other people more opened. Saying “thank you” not just a sign of good manners but also makes us to connect with others easier. Showing gratitude can create new opportunities.

With gratitude we can improve our empathy and decrease aggression. Grateful people behave more on prosocial way even if others don’t interact with them on a nicely. A research of the Kentucky University shows objects with gratitude were less willing to take revenge for offences than those without.

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Beneficial results of gratitude

Gratitude improves our physical health, people being grateful experience less physical pain and feel better than people without. They pay attention more to their health, do sports and having screening examinations which improves their quality of life. The psychological health is also gets re-established. Grateful people experience less negative emotions, like greed, anger, frustration and regret. Several researches proved that feeling gratitude often increases the feeling of happiness and decreases depression. Gratitude also supports to sustain our mental strength. Grateful athletes have stronger self-esteem and generally their achievement is better as well (Journal of Applied Sport Psychology). Gratitude reduces social comparison, instead of being offended by other people – who have more money or better jobs etc. (which is the typical sign of low self-esteem) – we will be able to appreciate other people’s achievements. If we recognize all of those own values what for we are able to be grateful it can help us to survive even if we are going through very difficult happenings. Gratitude makes us mentally stronger and that power is able to be used to get out difficult situations.

Keeping a gratitude diary can induces serious changes in us

We all have the capacity and opportunity to entertain the feeling of gratitude. Instead of complaining about what we miss, keep your mind on what you have already. Improving our attitude to feel grateful is one of the best way to amend our satisfaction with life. Write a gratitude diary! Write 5 things or happenings what you experienced on that day what you can be grateful for, just few sentences and after 30 days keeping your gratitude diary you are going to experience significant changes on yourself. It requires persistence but it pays off if you go on with it!

Few words onto the margin: nowadays everywhere you look, you can see and feel the consuming society. You are pushed to buy more and better things. Trust me, they will not make you feel more satisfied with yourself or with your life, not on a long term. There is always something missing, life is not perfect or all the time completed.

Picture: Radiant Life Chriropractic