Jun 18, 2014
Once you've become familiar with your own catastrophe predictions it's time to go about debunking them for what they really are: fiction. In this blog post I'll illustrate how to safely examine your catastrophe predictions—instead of run away from them—in order to prove that they aren't actually going to happen.
This will leave you equipped to handle future adverse events without having to turn to food, and thereby equip you to stop an emotional eating episode.
To begin with, let's map out how the catastrophe prediction process works in your life. It goes something like this:
Intense feelings arise in you.
Your intense feelings turn into a fear/panic that something bad is going to happen (like you're going to fall apart).
You interrupt your fear/panic by eating.
By interrupting your fear/panic, you never examine it—you simply reinforce it. Over and over again.
It's a worn out, vicious cycle that blocks any chance of you ever learning a better way to deal with your intense feelings. And, honestly, who wants that limitation in their life?
The key to breaking this cycle, then, begins with the realization that you DO have other options besides eating. And after more than thirty-years as a psychiatrist I can safely say that most people have within them a mature response to handling the stressors in their life with wisdom rather than impulse.
It's simply a matter of quieting your mind to allow that to happen.
Reinterpreting the Rubbish
Based on the four triggers that can spark difficult feelings—events, relationships, unprovoked feelings and self-doubts—I'm going to illustrate how you can reinterpret your catastrophe predictions by using the following examples.
I'll Fall Apart
When I'm dealing with my sick parent it makes me feel exhausted. On the drive home from the hospital I start to think that it's just too much for me to handle and that I'll fall apart. Consequently, when I get home, I can't stop myself from binge eating.
I stop and analyze my catastrophe prediction. I realize that it certainly is a lot for me to handle right now, but that it's not going to be this way forever. And when I do this, the urge to eat decreases.
I'll Lash Out
When I feel rejected by my boyfriend, it makes me feel angry and jealous of my sister who happens to be happily married. I'm afraid I'll lash out at her. And it's this combination of anger and jealousy that drives me to eat. I eat so that angry words won't come out of my mouth.
I stop and analyze my catastrophe prediction. I realize that my relationship with my boyfriend has nothing to do with my sister. Once I realize this, my fear of me lashing out at my sister is removed, and with it the need for me to eat, leaving me free to think of more effective ways to handle my anger.
Endless Ocean of Tears
Sometimes late at night when no one is around, I feel lonely. I believe there is an endless ocean of tears inside me that will start flowing and never stop. And when I have that thought, I have to eat something.
I stop and analyze my catastrophe prediction. I realize that anytime I've cried in the past, I usually feel better once the tears stop. In fact, maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have a good cry and realize that yes, being home alone is in fact difficult for me.
There's No Hope
I find I need to eat when I feel I'm unloveable. In that moment I believe that if that's what I am, then there's no hope. It's in those moments that I go to the kitchen and eat whatever I can find.
I stop and analyze my catastrophe prediction. I realize that I'm certainly feeling unloveable, but that in actual fact, I'm not unloveable. It's not who I've always been, and certainly not who I'm always going to be. I realize there are other things I can do right now to remind myself of just how lovable I truly am.
Pausing and allowing yourself to examine your catastrophe predictions is crucial to your success in stopping an emotional eating episode. And, as an emotional eater, it more than likely goes against the way you've been handling your difficult emotions up to this point.
The question you have to ask yourself, then, is: Now that you have this information, what will you do with it?
Will you choose to continue living in the shadow of your past and simply allow old destructive patterns to dictate what you put in your mouth and on your hips?
Or will you take a chance on yourself, your inner strength and innate wisdom?
They say the greatest journey begins with a single step...
I can't help but agree.