Tag Archive | Religion

Stuck and Powerless

How many times have you felt stuck in your recovery or in other areas of your life? Have you ever felt powerless against your eating disorder or powerless in areas of your life making you want your eating disorder even more?

These two states of being are extremely powerful forces in one’s recovery, and in life as a whole. You can either allow them to debilitate you, or help move you to a better place.

In the past month or so, I have felt these two states of being particularly powerfully, not in my eating disorder recovery because I have achieved a recovery that is sacred and won’t be damaged by these states of being, but in several areas of life. It made me think of how difficult life is for my clients when they feel “stuck” and/or “powerless” and how often we experience this in life, and in recovery. Feeling stuck and powerless also forced me to make some decisions. The first decision I had to make was based on one question? “Do I FEEL stuck and powerless, or AM I actually stuck and powerless?” The first part of the question indicates that the way that I feel doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. The other reflects a different scenario entirely. In either case, something needed to be addressed. Through my process, I was much more clearly able to see my clients’ difficulties and thus hopefully enable me to help them more effectively.

Three clients come to mind when I think of being “stuck and powerless”. One is stuck in a few areas of life and therefore feels somewhat powerless. The second is stuck at a place in recovery, is tempted to not push to go further, and is having urges to go back to using eating disordered behaviors to “feel” more “powerful”.  The third feels powerless in her life, and historically turns to eating disordered behaviors to distract herself from the issues in life and when she feels badly about herself, thus perpetuating the feelings of powerlessness.  All three feel a bit defeated, and I can understand why.

Mirriam Webster defines powerless as:

1. Devoid of strength or resources

2. Lacking the authority or capacity to act

Stuck means “firmly positioned in place and difficult to dislodge”. Related words are: bonded, cemented, glued, anchored, clamped, embedded, entrenched, impacted, implanted, attached, bound, fastened, secured, immovable, unyielding.

No wonder these two states of being are difficult to manage.

If you are experiencing these issues, first stop to think and reflect on the first definition of powerless. Are you truly devoid of strength or resources?  Do you completely lack the authority or capacity to act?

Often individuals feel a sense of powerlessness as a result of events of the past. Many individuals learned early on that speaking up for what they needed would be met with negative consequences. This learned helplessness or powerlessness is often perpetuated through adulthood, even when the events are in the past.

You may often think you have no strength left, and your resources aren’t plentiful, BUT dig deeper than you ever have before and look for even the teeniest bit of strength to help you through. It is in there. It may be hidden, but it is inside you and you can find it. You also may need to look even harder for resources and “safe” people. They are out there in all sorts of places – in friends, acquaintances, organizations, religious and other spiritual leaders, therapists, teachers, family members, online resources. If you feel you have exhausted all your resources, begin a new search. Remember also, that YOU are your biggest resource. If you think you lack the capacity to act, reflect on the reasons you think that way. Are you basing your reasons on your past experiences or cognitive distortions (distortions of truth), or are you basing them on facts. Ask someone you trust to help you. Maybe you are unable to “see” ways you can act because you are deeply entrenched in the negative feelings that you have lost healthy perspective. Maybe you cannot act now, because of certain circumstances that are beyond your control, but perhaps you can come up with a plan to act within a certain time frame.  You need to continue to search and search for ways to improve your situation.

 

During the times when you are “stuck” at a place in recovery or in life – firmly positioned in place, embedded or entrenched, try to imagine it as an opportunity.  Being stuck is a clue that perhaps you aren’t ready for the next step. What is the next step? Is it too big? Have you not prepared well enough for it? Are you scared? What is expected of you if you take that step? Is it too unfamiliar? Do you need more time? Do you need to strategize more? Are you afraid of you take that step, there’s no turning back? Are you afraid to trust the process and take the leap of faith? Do you not have the confidence that you will be successful? Pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that are coming up, the powerful thoughts and feelings as well as the subtle ones. Also pay attention to your eating disordered thoughts. When we are stuck, we often revert back to wanting our eating disordered behaviors as a distraction or to sabotage our progress. In my opinion, being stuck is progress in itself, if you use it wisely.

Below are a few quotes that I thought might help you get “unstuck” and reclaim your power!

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. –  Martin Luther King, Jr.

You can be absolutely certain that when you feel you are being most unfairly tested, you are being prepared for great achievement. – Napoleon Hill

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart…. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – Carl Jung

All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience. – Henry Miller

 

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Health at Every Size from NYTimes.com

Health at Every Size, an article in Wednesday’s NYTimes.com, discusses how Lent can be another time for people who are discontent with their bodies to give up certain foods in an attempt to lose weight (a diet in disguise, perhaps?).

The article goes on to discuss the ineffectiveness of dieting for long-term weight loss.  “…a weight-focused approach geared toward losing weight is — surprise! — not especially effective in either reducing the weight or creating healthier bodies. In fact, they say, such an approach can unintentionally lead to weight gain and worse health.”

Instead of using this time as one to restrict, why not use it as a time to make peace with the body you have?

http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/health-at-every-size/

If you are already suffering from an eating disorder, restriction of any kind at any time of the year is dangerous and may potentially exacerbate your illness.

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Spirituality and Recovery

This is a beautiful post by a beautiful person!!! Thank you PR!!!!

I’m religious, but for years I didn’t consider myself spiritual. I know most people think that religion is synonymous with spirituality but believe me, they absolutely do not go together.  I’m proof of that.  I did everything my religion asked of me but my heart and soul were not into it and many times I considered leaving my faith.  That was especially true when I was in the throes of my eating disorder.  My eating disorder was always telling me that if I would stop participating in religious traditions and rituals I would have more time to invest in using eating disorder behaviors to reach my goal of being the perfect me with the perfect body.  I believed my eating disorder and broke every rule in the book listening to the voice in my head.  I stole food to binge on.  I weighed myself every day, including Saturday, when I knew I was breaking the Sabbath.  I didn’t make blessings on food because food had no meaning to me.  And most of all, I grew angry at God for destroying my life by making me fat and ugly.

Now, I know most of you reading this are waiting for me to say that one day something clicked in my head and suddenly I had this brilliant “ah ha” moment.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and as most of us can attest to, it usually doesn’t happen that way.  Instead, I gradually began to tune into a different voice inside my head.  Actually, it was more the voice of my heart and soul but I didn’t know that at that time.  I just heard a different voice in my head that kept reminding me of  the goals and dreams I had.  It helped that I was forced into listening to that voice because I had set my schedule up around healthy activities which were a constant reminder that I was climbing towards a goal.  I truly believe that setting goals for myself is what ultimately unearthed my spiritual self. 

Spirituality, according to some views, is a burning desire within each one of us to give our lives meaning by becoming a “somebody”.  This fire within us is an inborn trait and is the impetus that drives us towards fulfilling our goals and dreams and finding a place for ourselves in this world.  Thus, spirituality is very different than religion, though for many people religion is a manifestation of their spirituality.  For others, spirituality is a connection with their inner selves, their souls, and their belief in the value and meaning of their lives. 

Listening and responding to that voice in my head, reminding me of my goals, became a constant dialogue between me and my soul which slowly allowed me to peel away at the layers, upon layers, surrounding my inner self.  Gradually, I began to sense that inborn desire to become a “somebody” in this world and recognize that my eating disorder was the barrier between me and my spiritual aspirations.  I was then faced with the most difficult decision of my life.  At this fork in the road, would I turn a blind eye to my newfound soul and continue to destroy my inner self by using eating disorder behaviors, or would I begin the arduous climb out of the dark pit of disorder and allow my spiritual self to begin basking in the sunlight waiting for me outside the pit.  The decision was mine to make and yet, how I wished it was not one I needed to face. 

Giving up my eating disorder was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.  And I still struggle and fight against it every day.  Yet, becoming one with my spiritual self, with that inborn desire to find a place for myself in this world, has made me whole and has given me the greatest gift of healing.  When one is at ease with themselves, in a physical and spiritual sense, then disease, which is the dis ease of dissonance with one’s inner self, can not rule.  Instead, the healing power of the inner self can come forth and help one reach for the stars.

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