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not fighting so hard all the time

Posted Oct 23 2009 10:01pm

One of the manifestations of black and white perspective is the idea that "if we don't constantly fight, we'll lose." That there are only 2 choices: fight or lose.


It doesn't surprise me- after all, since we're fear-based creatures, we do have an instinctual part of us that's ready to go into flight or fight mode (an old friend of mine called this part of himself his "reptilian brain" and he attributed all kinds of interesting behaviors of his to it!).

Sometimes we end up fighting, or thinking we're supposed to be fighting, when in fact we don't need to be- when in fact, fighting is one of the worst things we could be doing at that moment. In our work on ourselves we need to be continually observing and assessing what type of situation we're involved in, and whether fighting, or some other approach, is best.

This idea is one I'm always cognizant of and work with clients on. I happen to be writing about it tonight because of Wendy's query about why those negative thoughts and feelings can return at various points and what it means when they do and what to do about it...

I know those negative, loud (even obnoxious and relentless and harsh) thoughts are hard to tolerate, and that they can be alarming, especially if they resurface after a period of time when they've been quieter or absent. It's not a shock that people's first inclination is to fight them- to try to get rid of them, make them go away and not be so darn bothersome.

The surfacing or resurfacing of those thoughts, feelings and beliefs, (what we tend to refer to as those "ED voices") can be used positively. Note: I don't at all mean that this makes the resurfacing of those thoughts any fun, or any less dangerous if they get out of control and run amok. What I mean is that those thoughts, feelings and beliefs (and the ED behaviors that can go along with them when the thoughts etc. get intense) can be considered "warning flags" sent from our psyches- messages that we are too... too something. In Wendy's case, it seems she's too stressed, and probably very sad about losing a friend. Because of the intensity inside her, Wendy's psyche is sending out "flags" to her consciousness saying, "wow, things are really intense these days. Make sure you're paying attention and taking care of yourself. If you don't, you'll get very out of balance and suffer as a result."

Remember that our psyches (the aspect that communicates through the ED is what I'm referring to) are not particularly sophisticated, and they have a limited amount of "tools" at their disposal to use to communicate with us. These "you need to pay attention and work extra carefully to take care of yourself" messages come to you as "negative" thoughts and feelings (I know, it's kind of an indirect way to communicate, but it's all the ED "knows" how to do).

So, instead of trying to fight against the thoughts if/when they surface, I recommend trying to understand (and accept) why they're there, and working on interpreting the messages (sifting through the "noise" that the ED is "saying" and comprehending what the true, underlying meaning of the message is) and keeping ourselves balanced and healthy.

A long time ago I worked with a lovely woman who had just terrific recovery. She'd worked very hard and eventually had been free from bingeing and purging for several years. She gotten married and the pregnant, both of which were very happy occasions for her. In the second month of her pregnancy her "bulimic thoughts" resurfaced. She didn't act on them, but they felt all too familiar and oppressive. She came back to see me and we put this in perspective. The stress of being newly married and newly pregnant (with all the physical, relational and emotional changes that go along with that), was a bit overwhelming to her- even though it was stress caused by positive things. The resurfacing of the ED thoughts was a flag, a reminder to not neglect herself, to not go too fast and forget about her needs.

Once she got this perspective, she was able to pay attention to taking very good care of herself. And, no surprise, the negative thoughts calmed down. So, the moral is, fighting against things isn't always the best way to go...
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