Category Archives: Life Coaching

Gaslighting 101: Changing the Subject

rock-cliff-high-tableau-mountain-731140I sometimes become haunted by news stories. Usually stories of injustice and abuse. Of course, I do. They’re close to my home. They touch my heart and remind me of what I clawed my way out of.

It’s not good for me to focus so strongly on negativity. I’d be better off becoming obsessed with meditation. Maybe I should be re-reading a book from my treasure trove of positive thinking books. Yet here I am, with more fodder for my writing. Obsession leaves no room for any other actions.

At any rate, I am consumed by the news detailing the latest public figure accused of sexual harassment/sexual abuse/child molestation. My intense scrutiny comes at the reactions to the people speaking out and telling their stories. I see gaslighting in the reporting and I saw gaslighting in response to my most recent posting, Telling Your Story: Gaslighting and Mystified Oppression.

Gaslighting takes many forms. One is to re-frame the subject. Re-framing is simply a fancy word for changing the subject. In this case, many are attempting to change the discussion from one of abuse into one of politics.

Gaslighting is often fascinating when I can get some distance from the exchange. You can look to logical fallacies as one explanation of gaslighting. Logical fallacies are errors in logic and thinking.

As I go back through the list of logical fallacies, there are so many in the reactions to my writing. And when someone is illogical, there is no discussion. All of these are attempts to change the subject and throw a lot of dust around the issue.

Several men wrote hostile responses in regard to my previous blog post on this subject. They resembled political commentary. Raging about politics, attempting to turn the speak outs from people speaking their truth into leftist politics versus right-wing politics. I explained my position in my return response.

Frankly, this caused some degree of rage in response. Rage is a common comeback to you when you don’t give in to gaslighting. It’s interesting. When one technique didn’t work, was a second and third. Attacking my logic, my politics and then my character. This is what is known as an ad hominem logical fallacy.

People are not communicating. They might respond from something deep inside them. Or they might be attempting to derail you from your side of the conversation. At any rate, they are not responding to reality.

None of which applies to the fact (The FACT) that women and men are speaking out about the wrong done to them by people with some power over them.

Just in case you wondered, speaking out is not political. It’s personal.

Okay, there are some who say the personal is political. If so, this is not red versus blue. One group of people want to keep the world safe for predators to roam. We can call them, the pro-abuse party. And the other side wants to make the world unsafe for predators to roam. We can call them, the anti-abuse party.

And right smack dab in the middle are those who want the space to speak out and tell their truth. Not your truth. Not my truth. Not the truth of the news media. Their personal truth.

All right, I’m being too literal. There are gaslighters who want to protect themselves from the consequences of their behavior. Others want to protect some idea, some prestige, some power or something. Your truth threatens to take something they value away from them. That’s not political, it’s personal.

The second gaslighting response was a legalistic one. It’s still an attempt to re-frame the discussion. Change the subject. “If he did it.” “All claims of harassment/abuse should be investigated.” “And whoever did wrong should be punished.”

There is a threat implicit in this. Here is the threat. If you speak your truth, you will be investigated. And if we can find any fault in your story, you will be punished.

Just so you know, if anyone investigates you long and hard enough, they will find something wrong. None of us are perfect. You might yell at your spouse or fart in the living room. Whatever. Public scrutiny is terrifying.

When I responded to this man’s thoughts, he behaved much like the first man. He became enraged and attacked me. He threw in concepts like “personal responsibility” without context.

Whose responsibility? The victim or the perpetrator. Then he attacked my logic, my motives, my character, my whatevers. Ad hominem. If you have no argument, attack the person. Or create confusion.

People are telling truths that happened years, even decades ago. There is no legal remedy here. No one is going to be arrested, charged, tried and sent to jail. That labels this a bogus argument, meant to derail the conversation.

How can a victim be the responsible party? This too is gaslighting. Blandly talking about abuse as if there is equal blame to excuse the actions of the guilty party. This is called a false equivalence because these two behaviors are not in any way equal.

I’m reminded of another recent news story that I think demonstrates personal responsibility. It’s the story of the air force and the church shooter. The air force failed somehow when the reports on the Texas killer never made it to the federal database. This database might have prevented that gunman from buying a gun. We won’t ever know since people seem to be able to get guns when they really want to.

Instead of gaslighting, excuse-making, or defensive posturing, an air force spokesperson took ownership of this. Admitted a mistake and vowed to find out how it happened. I’ve noticed this topic disappeared from the news. Taking responsibility. The Air Force, in this situation, shows how it’s done.

There are public figures responding in a variety of ways. One deflection is to mention going to treatment. What treatment? For what? Sexual addiction? Alcohol? Drugs? That’s not remorse, that’s cover your ass. It’s not even appropriate to the circumstance. Some admit it and disappear from the story. Many are facing real consequences after years of criminal behavior.

That’s a good thing, even for those public figures I liked. Real consequences maybe mean that fewer people might think it’s okay to act like that.

I hope no one manages to stop the tsunami of people telling their truths. Hearing them gives me a sense of rightness and hope. That there might be fewer new victims if these speak outs continue. And are not shut down, put away, or stopped by gaslighting.

Gaslighting fails here.

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Holiday Self-Care Tips

This page of self-care tips is for everyone who finds Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day an unhappy experience. I looked for quotes that go against what most people say and think about the holiday season.

I wrote these to help you pick those strategies that seem most suitable to you. If you think you need help developing your self-care tips, consider my Online Holiday Art Coaching Group.

Most of my life’s work has been spent with people who experienced abuse, trauma, grief and tragedy. I worry that someone with unhappy, abusive, and traumatic histories might feel isolated and alone during the holidays.

Watch this space. I’ll be adding a self-care tip daily. There are 2 other holiday pages: Quotes and Holiday Myths.

Halloween-Self-Care-Tip-1

You find your truth by asking yourself questions and listening to your thoughts and feelings. Part of this is what you’ve experienced. In this case, we’re talking about trauma, tragedy, grief, abuse, and harassment. These events and what you have experienced. It might surprise you to realize that the way you think and feel is normal for someone who has experienced events like yours.

There is more to your truth. Your truths also involve what you believe, need, want and think. These are often private thoughts that you don’t share with others.

Knowing your truths is one way you can make self-enhancing holiday plans.

Halloween-Self-Care-2-

This one takes a bit of practice. You do have to go up against your own inner rules about your feelings. You might also need to go against the feelings rules of everyone else around you.

Like I wrote above, your feelings are normal given your history. If you acknowledge your feelings, you can make plans that are more suitable to you.

Halloween-Self-Care-3

Most people with painful histories judge themselves as bad and wrong for existing. I usually call this the “wrong rule.” It goes like this. I’m too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too loud, too silent. If I think it, feel it, want it, need it, I’m wrong. And the wrong rule is simply by itself—wrong.

Instead, you want to turn this thought behavior on it’s head. Instead of judging yourself around the holiday season, find ways to make yourself right. Then find ways to self-soothe and comfort.

This one is easier than it sounds. You can pick any small are large thing you think, are or do and deliberately to yourself give yourself credit for it. When I began using this tool, I started very small. Every day, I praised myself for washing my face and brushing my teeth. There are many ways to expand this. But first you need to develop it as a habit.

Holiday-Self-Care-Tip-4

So many people who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, trauma, and harassment just take the blame on themselves. It’s an easy mental trick. You, probably unconsciously, think “If I’m at fault, I can change this!”

Since we cannot control other people abuse and all the rest above have never been your fault.

This requires a lot of self-talk.

Holiday-Self-Care-5-

For the upcoming holidays, you can listen to your wants, needs, and desires. It might take determination, but you can decide to ask yourself what you would like your holiday to be like. And then plan it just for you.

There are so many choices. Some of the possible choices will be posted here in the near future. The range is from ignoring the holidays completely to planning a holiday that matches your wants, needs and desires.

Holiday-Self-Care-Tip-6

Okay, okay, I know the stores are full of holloween candy! The television is advertising halloween scary movies. And right now, halloween is everywhere. In a few weeks, Thanksgiving will be imposed upon you in advertising, on television, at work and throughout your friendships. You can tune it out. Make alternate plans for yourself. Politely say, “no” to invitations. “Thank you, but I cannot” is a simple example.

Holiday-Self-Care-7

There is no right way to celebrate or not celebrate holidays. It’s a matter of finding out what is best for you. Some people find service allows them to turn their misery into moments of blessings. Others find it does the opposite.

Ask yourself what Y O U R needs are. You can ponder all of these ideas and pick the ones that are best for you.

Holiday-Self-Care-#-8

If you belong to a church, are comfortable in church, one way to spend the holidays is to involve yourself with the church of your choice.

Your feedback is important! If you have holiday quotes that are meaningful to you, please add them to the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the page.

If you wish to say more, e-mail me at agentledrlaura@mail.com or by using the contact me box below.

If you like my writing and are interested in applying some of these ideas, subscribe to my newsletter.

email: agentledrlaura@mail.com                                         Telephone: (615) 464-3791

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Holiday Quotes for People for Whom the Holidays Are Difficult

This page of quotes is for everyone who finds Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day an unhappy experience. I looked for quotes that go against what most people say and think about the holiday season.

Most of my life’s work has been spent with people who experienced abuse, trauma, grief and tragedy. I worry that someone with unhappy, abusive, and traumatic histories might feel isolated and alone during the holidays.

I picked quotes that seemed to me to express something other than the giddy happiness you see over the airways, on the net, in restaurants, stores, and so on. The pressure to be happy is everywhere.

This page and the following pages of holiday myths and self-care tips are all designed to help you handle this year’s season.

Holiday Quote 1

This quote just appeals to me for the feelings of Halloween. If you feel it’s all “toil and trouble”, consider trimming down your celebration. Or eliminating it altogether.

Holiday Quote 2

I was considering how scary Halloween could be to people who have been traumatized early in life. My cousin babysat for me early in life and told me the story of her first day taking care of me. I was an infant and naturally have no memory of this. She was five and not told it was Halloween. No candy to give out. No preparation for the costumes ringing the bell. I still feel the anxiety I felt when she explained this to me sometime in my twenties.

I still feel the anxiety I felt when she explained this to me sometime in my twenties.

When I was searching quotes, this quote reminded me of that feeling. And it’s okay to feel scared. Just also think of ways to comfort yourself.

Holiday Quote 3

“I definitely do not like Halloween. I don’t like masks, creepy clowns, dark things, goblins or witches. They’re not just my thing.” Tyler Perry. If you feel like this, know that you are not alone.

If you feel like this, know that you are not alone. You don’t have to like “masks, creepy clowns, dark things, goblins or witches.”

If you can acknowledge this without judging yourself, you can find ways to take care of you. You matter.

Halloween-Quote-4

To me, this quote also says it’s normal to feel scared at Halloween. Some people enjoy this. Some do not.

I don’t like scary things. They do remind me of my early childhood abuse. I don’t watch scary movies, go to costume parties where everyone gets to scare everyone else.

It’s my hope that you will take this to support and encourage you to accept any feelings you have at Halloween.

Halloween-Quote-5

And yes, that is the way it is. Try to figure out what exactly spooks you. Then, you can also figure out ways to plan your night that make it easier for you. And that idea does also apply to all the days up to Halloween too.

Halloween-Quote-6-

“I’m not fond of a tradition that requires people to open the door for strangers. Or for kids to take candy from strangers.” ~Megan Erickson.

She’s a comedian and is making fun of the idea of Halloween. I thought about how irreverent this comment is making your opinions about Halloween perfectly okay. This quote seemed comforting to me.

Holiday-Quote-7

This sounds funny and people can laugh as if it’s silly to take care of yourself. But really it’s not silly to honor your personal history. It’s not silly at all to do whatever you need to be okay during Halloween.

Holiday-Quote-8

It’s okay to be frightened. The strategy to manage this during your holiday season involves owning your truth about your fear. Then you can make plans to comfort and soothe yourself. You can make decisions what to participate in and what to say, “no” to.

Holiday-Quote-9

As I was searching for Halloween quotes for people who have difficulty with the holidays, I stumbled across this one. I like it because it speaks truths that some people think but do not say. If you can think and feel how you really feel, you can participate or not in whatever parts of the holiday season you want to participate in.

Your feedback is important! If you have holiday quotes that are meaningful to you, please add them to the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the page.

If you wish to say more, e-mail me at agentledrlaura@mail.com or by using the contact me box below.

If you like my writing and are interested in applying some of these ideas, subscribe to my newsletter.

Watch this space. I’ll be adding a quote daily. There are 2 other holiday pages: Myths and Self-Care Tips.

email: agentledrlaura@mail.com                                         Telephone: (615) 464-3791

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Online Art Coaching Group To Create New Holiday Memories

hot air balloons at sunset colemanlifecoaching.comCreate new holiday memories! Make new friends in the comfort of your own home. Use art projects to develop holiday plans that please you. Be supported and encouraged. Become true to yourself before and during the holiday season

Coaching Not Therapy

  • Goal setting
  • Solve problems
  • Make new plans
  • Move forward
  • Take action
  • Create new memories

Art Coaching

  • Create your vision
  • Hands on
  • Outcome focused
  • Creative
  • Fun
  • Memories take form

Details

  • Meets weekly
  • Online via Skype
  • $30.00 per group
  • Starts Saturday 11/4/17
  • 11 AM to 12 Noon CST
  • Finish projects at home

Flyer for Holiday Art Group

Read my blog on Holidays for Adults with Unhappy Holiday Memories

Space is limited. Reserve your space now.

Telephone me: (615) 464-3791

Email me: agentledrlaura@colemanlifecoaching.com

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Holidays for Adults with Unhappy Holiday Memories

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Self-Care to Reduce Holiday Stress

Yesterday I went to physical therapy. Yes, physical therapy. AGAIN.

There were beautiful huge pumpkins decorating the waiting room. One on each side of the door. Today is a day in the last week of September.

Halloween is at the end of next month!

The holidays are coming! Thanksgiving movies are being advertised on television. Christmas music will soon be playing everywhere. Homes, schools, and offices are decorating.

Beautiful mouthwatering candy and cookies are tempting the most patient dieter. “Tis the season to be jolly”. Or is it?

This brings up memories. Happy memories or unhappy ones. Everyone experiences holiday stress. Yet people with unhappy childhoods experience sometimes massive holiday stress.

This blog is for you. I’m writing for each and every one of you whose childhood memories are unhappy ones.

I wish to discuss a myth. This fable suggests that all you need to do is let go. Let go of bad memories. Just decide to forget about it.

That’s not the case. People say, “Just go laugh and play; you’ll feel better.

Or “Enjoy the moment.”

“Forget the past.”

These false ideas make your holidays more difficult. Stressful.

People expect child abuse to be over when you grow up. You are expected to pick up with grit and a smile. Then carry on from the most stressful memories.

You were invisible before, but now you don’t exist. People expect you to disappear into the mainstream of society and have no problems with life at all.

People assume you will just deal with it all the time, but the pressure on you is worse around the holidays. All around you are expressions of happiness and joy.

Movies, music, stores, and other people are expressing happy feelings. You place expectations on yourself and create more holiday stress. You tell yourself; “be jolly.

Happiness is an expectation and a pressure on you. Instead, you feel like Scrooge. More stress.

When you laugh and play, you feel your innermost feelings. For a person with a happy fulfilling personal history, this is wonderful. You’ll remember Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter and other family holidays past with fond and pleasant memories.

Sure, you have had problems in your life; but the overall picture of your personal history is mellow. You’ll remember smells, sounds, and people with warmth, joy, and feelings of anticipation.

If you grew up in a dysfunctional household, holidays were more likely to be chaotic. You lived holiday stress.

All days were chaotic, but the holidays were worse.

Many people have memories of dad or mom drunk and violent or weepy or sloppy sentimental. There are memories of dire poverty with no food or heat or furniture. Your parents might have traded your Christmas presents for drugs. Or you were beaten senseless by your drunken parent or molested by that weird Uncle So and So.

Christmas and other holidays bring up feelings and memories from the most painful events of your life.

Here are some suggestions to help you take care of yourself.

  • Tell yourself your truths.

What truths? You might ask. Your truths are those thoughts and feelings you have in the privacy of your own mind. Your truth is what happened to you in your lifetime.

Your truth consists of your beliefs, needs, wants, and ideas. You probably don’t voice them. You might not even allow yourself to acknowledge them. However, you do hear them.

If you allow yourself to know your truths, you will be able to make a holiday plan that fits your needs. You can make good decisions based on who you are, what you have been through and what exactly you need from yourself.

  • Allow yourself to feel how you feel.

Tell yourself that you are normal to feel the way you feel. Acknowledge that you have a right to feel exactly as you feel about these holidays. Remind yourself that anyone with your specific history would feel exactly as you do.

  • Try to find ways to give your approval to yourself.

Make yourself right for who you are instead of wrong. If it is normal for you to feel painful feelings during the holidays, you don’t have to pretend to be jolly. If you don’t have to pretend to be jolly, you can find healthy ways to comfort yourself.

  • Ask yourself what kind of Holiday you would like.

As an adult, you can do for yourself what you could not do in childhood. You have a wide range of options to choose from.

  • You can give yourself a traditional holiday.
  • You can ignore the holidays altogether.
  • You can spend your holidays in service to others.
  • You could spend your holiday with a church of your choice.
  • There is no correct way of having holidays.
  • You can look at all the different aspects of each celebration; then pick and choose the activities that suit you.
  • The point here is to listen to yourself.
  • Take care of yourself based on your truth, your feelings and what you want.

Decide to parent yourself. Comfort yourself with what you need.

Keep yourself safe from harm. Be kind to yourself. This may be the most difficult step in self-care.

  • Whenever you make any change in your behavior, you will run into resistance.

Resistance is sneaky. Sometimes it’s just a sense of irritation. Other times, it’s a nightmare. I often feel sick when getting ready to do something difficult. Resistance is within yourself and also from other people. This too is normal.

Accept that you will fight yourself when taking care of you. And, then proceed to do just that. Fight yourself to take care of you.

  • Taking care of yourself is a long learning process.

All that is required is that you make an attempt. Each effort, each trial for self-care is progress. Your attempts will help you relieve your holiday stress. You can create new memories for yourself. Memories that suit you and meet your needs.

Best wishes to you. Stay safe!

Do you have thoughts about how you can reduce your upcoming holiday stress?

Scroll down and leave your comments below.

I’d love to hear from you.

Your feedback is important! Please let me know your thoughts and feelings about this writing.

Just scroll a little further down the page and use the “Leave a Reply” box to add your opinions. Make your suggestions and let me know what your needs are.

If you wish to say more, e-mail me at agentledrlaura@mail.com.

If you like my writing and are interested in applying some of these ideas, subscribe to my newsletter.

Or

email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

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The Only Way Out Is Through!

bridge-1385938_1920

Abuse-Proofing Your Children: Adult Predators

children-817365_1280Early in my graduate training, I stumbled over some great information and advice in my studies on all aspects of trauma and child abuse. One author wrote that parents should tell your children the following. “If someone tells you not to tell your parents, they are not your friend. Come and tell me right away!

So I did. And he did.

There was an older grandfather in the neighborhood who was showing the boys pornography. My studies taught me that this is a clue. An early strategy pedophiles often use to seduce young children.

I praised my son for trusting me. The solution was easy. My child could play with that other child at our house.

Here’s another example. A local school district offered a child abuse prevention program in all of their elementary schools. Not too long afterward, a youth leader attempted to molest several young children at a sleep-away camp. They did what they were taught. They all said “no.” Then repeated their “NO” more loudly in the face of increased pressure from the predator.

These kids understood what to do. The children realized they’d be believed. They also learned they could stand up to an adult who wanted to invade their space. They believed they would not be punished for refusing to follow an adult’s wrong directions.

They told their parents when they arrived home. Their parents believed them, then reported the pedophile to their local police department.

These children were not molested or traumatized. Instead, the predator went to jail. This is a successful example of abuse proofing children.

People think any and all abuse attempts will damage their children. It’s not true. Abuse proofing your child prevents the abuse. It also prevents the damage.

Here is what you need to know to abuse proof your own child.

  • Abusers can be strangers AND people you know.

As loving parents, we fear the stranger who could harm our children. However, according to the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, most abused children are abused by someone they know.

  • Child molesters and abusers look for opportunity.

This means they plant themselves where children are available. Predators go out of their way to ingratiate themselves with the parents of their child victims. Often they worked very hard to win YOUR trust. Don’t give it to them. You’ll see this by instinct. Trust that instinct.

  • Children own their private spaces just like adults.

A pedophile will make slow, yet deliberate and inappropriate attempts to invade the private spaces of their potential child victim. Teach them their right to their physical space.

  • A child’s sense of personal space and privacy changes as he or she ages.

A young child learns about good touches and bad touches. They might learn about the private parts of their body that no one is supposed to touch. As they grow, they might learn about self-expression with the right to their own ideas, thoughts and feelings.

  • Children sense violation the same as adults do.

As adults, you can understand that uncomfortable feeling you experience when someone stands too close to you, asks too many personal questions or actually takes something out of your purse or off your desk. As adults, you can learn to speak up.

  • This rule is a little more complicated for children. They live with less control over their lives than adults.

So, you might want to begin protecting your child by telling him or her to tell you if another person makes them uncomfortable.

  • Children need “NO” type words you, as parents, can accept.

Loving parents want their children to do well in life, develop friends, and be successful in school. Most parents hope to raise children that learn manners and proper behavior. Find a way within your family values for your child to say “NO” to the earliest invasion of a human predator.

  • Develop your own balance between teaching your children proper behavior and teaching your children self-protection.

This is where intuition, values, good judgment and parenting skills are vitally important. You have your home rules along with your religious and moral values. You, as parent, can use your beliefs as your guide to teaching your child how to express themselves.

  • Children need to tell someone about this violation.

Predators are difficult enough for adults to handle! Since children have fewer skills to handle predators, they need adult assistance. They have to be able to tell you.

  • They need you to hear them when they tell you.

This is probably the most painful and difficult part. Not “Auntie Nameless” or “Uncle So and So”!

  • Children should keep telling trusted adults until an adult hears them.

Teach your children to come to you. As you do, teach them to get help for themselves wherever they are and whenever they need help.

Children learn very fast when you talk directly and listen to them about the things that bother them. Try it! You’ll be glad you did.

Feel free to dialogue by using the reply form below.

Contact me for parent coaching to abuse proof your child.

email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

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My Broken Vase

A dream has haunted meStillleben_mit_Schachteln,_1941
for days and days.
A nuanced dream
with many layers
all singing me a message
that I am refusing to hear.
Covering my ears
closing my eyes
an ostrich head in the sand.
A teenager fighting the world
resisting and rolling my eyes
fluffing my hair
in a posture of outrage.

My late husband bought me
a dusty teal colored vase
with a crochet flower bouquet
full of memories of fun
laughter
sunshine
and freedom.
I often look at that vase
with fondness
of my life well lived.

I gasped in my dream
as the vase dropped to the floor
breaking into pieces
too small
too many to fix.
Grieving, I awoke.
Mourning, I think, the vase
and the life that is no more.

But, wait, look, think.
The crochet flowers remain whole
sitting there on the floor
In the middle of all those broken pieces.
Whole flowers
needing a good cleaning
and some tender loving care.
Undamaged flowers making me think.

The only sure thing in life is change.
As long as I breathe
live on this side of the dirt
life will happen.
When the sun shines
rain will eventually fall.
And back again to the sun.
With laughter, prepare for tears
and tears for laughter.
Vases we love will break.
Maybe the flowers within
will survive.

We live in the middle of life’s changes.
I’m here
alive
and not always well.
I will adapt
adjust
accept
flourish.
I can live a full life
no matter what happens.
I’ll be the flower that remains.
Yes, I will.

Contact me for life coaching about the changes in your life.

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Painting by Felix Nussbaum (https://www.tumblr.com/search/Felix+Nussbaum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Food Addiction

brain-954821_640Issues with food and weight are very complicated. My previous eating disorder article, titled “Problems with Food and Weight”, covered the problems people have with excess weight. Today’s writing will discuss food and eating issues that are similar to addictions.

Remember, there are several principles that are common in all addictions: heredity, the disease model, allergy, tolerance, progression, consequences (physical, emotional, and spiritual), mental defenses against self-awareness, and hitting bottom. I will begin by discussing each of these issues as they relate to food, eating, and weight.

Most people think of heredity as a direct effect. They believe that if your parents had a food, eating or weight problem, you will have a food, eating or weight problem. That is most likely true. The way your body processes food IS related to your genetics. However, addiction is much more complicated. If your parents or grandparents had any addiction, you are at a higher risk for any addiction.

In the disease model, what varies between people is their ‘drug of choice’. Your drug of choice is the substance or behavior that gets you high. If you have alcoholics, addicts, gamblers, food addicts, or even workaholics in your family tree, you might just be a person who responds to some substance or addictive behavior in an unusual way. You might just develop a drug of choice.

In this article, your drug of choice is food. Fortunately, not all food gets people high…just certain foods, mostly foods that have limited nutrition. This means that sugar, processed food and/or large amounts of food would affect you in a manner that is different from other people. It’s also behaviors. Food related behaviors such as binging, starving, vomiting, overexercising, and so on. Those are addictive too.

In the beginning, your reaction to junk foods and food behaviors is soothing and comforting. Like alcohol, your behaviors with food might make you think faster and function better. This is your allergy to food.

Unfortunately, all addictions involve tolerance to your substance. You begin to need more and more junk food to achieve less and less soothing effect.

Thus begins the progression into active addiction. People increase the amount of junk food they eat. Then they begin binging. Eventually, people binge more and more often. Eventually, people are very tragic with food. They binge and purge in a frantic attempt to get high and not suffer severe weight gain. Or they simply binge and binge until they become sick or pass out. People have died binging as their stomach bursts. This is no different from the cocaine addict who frantically snorts or shoots cocaine almost every hour as the high wears off.

Enter the consequences of food addiction. Physical consequences are very easy to see. Food addicts wear their consequences as weight on their bodies. People grow heavier and heavier as their weight balloons out of control. But there are other unseen physical consequences. Malnutrition is common. An active addict stuffs themselves with nonnutritive foods leaving no room for the basic nutrition needed to function in life. Then there are the physical illnesses related to excess weight or underweight: diabetes, heart disease, gout, and back problems to name only a few.

Emotional consequences are many: guilt, shame, remorse, pre-occupation with food instead of your life, low self-esteem, isolation, and loneliness. And the spiritual consequences of your relationship with food are the same as any addiction. You place your faith in your ‘drug of choice’ instead of God and the religion of your heart.

Like all addicts, you defend yourself against the reality of your downhill spiral. You may assert that you can diet anytime you want. You might use humor like some sad, but delightful people I have known. Dying from uncontrolled diabetes, binging on junk food and asserting in a funny tone of voice that they must, for example, eat enough to maintain their weight. Defenses are as creative as the people who use them. The point is that you might weigh three or four hundred pounds and still be telling yourself that you do not have a problem.

Hitting bottom is different from person to person. When you hit your bottom, you become unable to deny to yourself that you have this problem. The evidence around you breaks through all the techniques you use to hide from yourself. Sadly, hitting bottom is excruciatingly painful. Most frequently, what breaks through your defenses is some sort of humiliating and degrading type of experience. For alcoholics, it can be being arrested for drunk driving. For a food addict, this can include not being able to wear your clothes or being at a public function and breaking the chair you wish to sit in.

Some people hit bottom over and over again. They live out the rest of their lives at this space, unable to change or take action on their own behalf. This is unnecessary.

There are many different versions of recovery for people who have a food addiction. Overeaters Anonymous offers one version. Take this questionnaire from them to help you decide if this is the appropriate solution for you.

___Do you eat when you’re not hungry?

___Do you go on eating binges for no apparent reason?

___Do you have feelings of guilt and remorse after overeating?

___Do you give too much time and thought to food?

___Do you look forward with pleasure and anticipation to the time when you can eat alone?

___Do you plan these secret binges ahead of time?

___Do you eat sensibly before others and make up for it alone?

___Is your weight affecting the way you live your life?

___Have you tried to diet for a week (or longer), only to fall short of your goal?

___Do you resent others telling you to “use a little willpower” to stop overeating?

___Despite evidence to the contrary, have you continued to assert that you can diet “on your own” whenever you wish?

___Do you crave to eat at a definite time, day or night, other than mealtime?

___Do you eat to escape from worries or trouble?

___Have you ever been treated for obesity or a food-related condition?

___Does your eating behavior make you or others unhappy?

Have you answered yes to three or more of these questions? If so, it is probable that you have or are well on your way to having a compulsive overeating problem. Overeaters Anonymous believes that the way to arrest this progressive disease is to practice the Twelve-Step recovery program.

There are other 12-recovery programs for food addiction. These are, with links to their websites: ABA – Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous, CEA – Compulsive Eaters Anonymous, EDA – Eating Disorders Anonymous, FA – Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, FAA – Food Addicts Anonymous, GSA – GreySheeters Anonymous, O.A. H.O.W.

12-Step Recovery wellness is for food addicts who are actively involved in one of the many and varied 12-step programs. This means you regularly attend meetings, have a sponsor, have worked all the way through the 12-steps, and are actively involved in your recovery program. This is a coaching approach specifically designed for food addicts in recovery who have inner nudges to achieve more in your lives.

If you have responses to this post, or just want to share your thoughts, please comment in the reply box below. I’d love to hear what you are thinking.

Contact me to follow that inner nudge calling you to live more richly:

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

 

Problems with Food and Weight

waage-1452608621kndYou can have a weight problem and NOT have a medical disorder, a diagnosable mental condition, or an addiction. Chances are good that you could change one or more of your behaviors and achieve your goals with life coaching.

Some people simply eat too much food or too much of the wrong kinds of foods and gain weight. For you, the solution is to go on a healthy diet and increase your exercise. You can obtain a healthy diet from your medical professional, a dietician or nutritionist. Life coaching can help you make your choices as well as keep your motivation high.

Many people find that they can simply increase their exercise by walking or riding a bicycle instead of driving. Maybe you’d like to take a dance class, join a health club, or plan for a marathon. This too is about your drive to reach your goals. Life coaching is all about your goals.

Then there is our modern lifestyle. We work long hours, so we don’t cook the healthier simple foods. Instead, we eat on the run. The foods we eat are loaded with empty calories: Sugar, white flour, and fat. Healthier foods are labor intensive and often require an hour or two to prepare. This is a very difficult activity after a long hard day working on your job. There are several solutions to this. Your answers depend on your values and personal decisions. A life coach helps you hear yourself and make those decisions in a self-enhancing way.

Our modern lifestyle contributes to health and weight problems. People a multitude of labor saving devices. And technology. I love this. Machines, appliances, computers, phones, tablets, and more. It does seem as if our lives are easier than they were 150 years ago. We shop online and no longer walk from store to store. We have appliances to do a lot of the activities that keep our lives functional.

Unfortunately, there have been what are called unintended consequences. One is that we simply use less energy in our day. And we consume fewer calories. Less activity, the same calorie consumption leads to less physical fitness and weight gain.

Then, we are often expected to do much more sedentary work. These days more people are doing work that involves using our minds rather than their bodies. We are less active and we have less time for the physical activities needed by our bodies. This is a real dilemma most people face daily.

It might seem like you just inhale food and calories from the air, gaining weight. But there are many behaviors in most people’s life that defeat their desire to be trim and healthy. And this requires behavior changes.

Our lives are busier and it’s more difficult to set your priorities. Pre-packaged, unhealthy foods abound in the grocery. And fast food is available almost on every corner. People work hard and eat at their desks.

Other people are thought to have an allergy to certain food or the chemicals in foods. A gazillion books have been written about the problems with sugar, white flour, and processed foods. They are not healthy, cause massive weight gain and, in some people, create a craving for more.

There are some excellent workbooks out there on behavior change. Charts and graphs to complete where you examine your behavior. And organized programs to help you do just that. The one catch is that these programs decide for you where you begin and which behaviors you should change.

Unfortunately, each worksheet, every program, and all the choices require time and effort. The effort of self-examination and the effort of participating in the program. And the important effort of the behavior change you need to make. Life coaching starts where you are. In a life coaching relationship, you select the behaviors you see as problematic and make your own plans to change them. You progress at your own pace. You put your effort where you feel it will do the most good.

Then there is the difficulty people have due to chronic dieting. Some researchers have proposed that there is a normal weight setpoint for each person. This means that the weight you are right now might be the weight that is normal for your body. When you lose weight below that setpoint, your body objects and fights back. Some feel this is related to the days when food was less available. Our bodies are magnificent and have adapted to life cycles of starvation and abundance. During abundance, our bodies pile on the weight to prepare for the coming cycle of starvation. Only life is not like that for most people today.

Years ago there was a research project conducted with people who volunteered to stay in a hospital setting and eat what was prescribed. The first part of this experiment had the volunteers on a strict diet calculated to cause each person to loose 10% of their body weight.

Once this part of the research was finished, food was supplied without limits. The volunteers could eat whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and as much as they wanted. At first, they chose the highest calorie foods. And they ate and ate, much like binge eaters until they gained weight. Only they didn’t just gain back that 10% of the weight they lost. They also gained an additional 10% above the weight they started with. This is an example what our bodies think about starvation diets and weight loss.

Some researchers have suggested you can change your setpoint with aerobic exercise. And that is a good idea for a multitude of reasons. Only one of which is your weight setpoint. Aerobic exercise is good for weight, as an antidote to stress, for depression as well. general overall fitness, well-being, and even fatigue.

Other authorities in the field of eating disorders have pointed to the fashion industry and media. They suggest that unreal and idealized images of beauty put invisible pressures on people to live up to an impossible and unhealthy standard. I remember reading about a fashion shoot for a jeans ad. It took something like 5 people to put the jeans on her. These jeans were deliberately several sizes too small for her. They immersed them in water and then demanded that she lean back, stay still and stiff like a board while staff forced the jeans on her. This was given as an example of an advertising campaign with unreal images. These images are thought to create a desire in some to become thinner than their body needs. Maybe even excessively so. Life coaching can help you create your vision of a healthy, normal weight with a satisfying life. And then life coaching can help you identify the steps you wish to take toward those goals.

The catch here is, once more, behavior change. Everything we want in life requires some effort. The choice is where you want to put your energy. What do you think is the most important behavior for you to change? How much personal power do you want in life? What is your chosen life?

Life coaching is helpful for people who want to eat healthier, increase their exercise, and change their lifestyle. Life coaching is great for people who look to empower themselves. In life coaching, you set your goals based on the deeper desires you hold. You hold the power. Make the choices. Decide which behaviors and actions you want to explore. We work together as you move forward along the path to your dreams of a healthier, happier you.

If you have responses to my columns, have questions, or just want to share your thoughts, write your comment in the reply box below. I’d love to hear what you are thinking.

Contact me for an appointment to begin reaching for the dreams within you.

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.