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Owning Up To Your Pessimism

Owning Up To Your Pessimism

If you are a pessimistic person, I want you to be able to proclaim it, to own up to it, and to accept it.  What I have found over my years in practice is that pessimistic people often don’t see themselves that way.  In fact, while they view everything else as being universally negative, they tend to view their pessimism as positive.

Instead of interpreting themselves as pessimistic, they instead see themselves as pragmatic, realistic, more informed and enlightened, and smarter.  For them, a pessimistic response to the world is seen as protective and even superior to the optimist.  Because they approach life believing the worst in circumstances and in people, they feel they are better prepared for whatever life throws at them.  They live a guarded, cautious, defensive life.  Problems, difficulties, inconveniences, and downright disasters are expected.

Pessimists have what I refer to as a critical spirit.  It refers to a person whose inner default mode is to be critical or negative.  Picking on people, jumping on their failures, and criticizing their faults appears to be a positive, proactive position for pessimists.  However, doing so says more about your own faults than the faults of others.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I have been in the counseling business too long to think that pessimists don’t have very specific reasons for being this way.  I have heard, literally, hours of reasons why a pessimist’s attitude is really a good thing in his or her life.  However, in my experience, I’ve found the reasons to spring from a deep well of pain, injury, abandonment, neglect, humiliation, abuse, and disappointment.  Is it any wonder, then, with this kind of well, that what bubbles up in the life of a pessimist is bitterness and negativity?

A pattern of pessimism can be very difficult to give up because it seems safe.  If you’ve been wounded, it appears smart to venture out cautiously, carefully, defensively.  Pessimism appears to be just the armor you need to engage a hostile world.  It can seem very right to the wounded person, but it leads to death, a death of optimism.  Pessimism becomes not an armor keeping the world out, but a prison keeping you in.  Pessimism is a world that says the worse thing that can happen to you is to be hurt by evil flourishes, where wrongs outweigh rights, where oppression is standard and disappointment is the order of the day.

There’s only one problem with this worldview; it’s a worldview.  It’s a view completely obscured by this world.  It presupposes that all there is or is ever going to be is this world, with all its faults and problems.  This is the type of world described in Ephesians 2:11-12.  It is a view “without hope and God in the world.”

But you do have hope, and God is in the world, so this worldview is a lie.  Since the underlying assumptions of your pessimism are a lie, it’s perfectly logical, rational, pragmatic, enlightened, and savvy to reject it and instead base your response to life on the truth.  And what is truth?  Instead of a worldview, have a God view.  With a God view, your response to life can change from pessimism to optimism.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE  and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.

Practicing Self-Care During the Holiday Season

Practicing Self-Care During the Holiday Season

The wonderful sights and sounds of the holiday season have finally emerged around every corner. Decorations have resurfaced from basements and holiday traditions are in full swing. No matter which holiday you observe, the holiday season can prove to be both a challenging and rewarding time of year for those recovering from an eating disorder.

Many people struggle with the environmental and social triggers during the holiday season that may elicit old, destructive eating patterns. Staying committed to practicing self-care throughout the holiday season is your solution to remaining on the path of recovery. Practicing self-care will create a more meaningful holiday season for you and your loved ones and will help you to enjoy all of the holiday festivities.

As you begin the holiday season by thinking about what you must do for others, it is imperative to remember that your happiness and health is of the utmost importance.

Tips to practicing self-care during the holiday season

Stay committed. Maintaining a semblance of normalcy during the holiday season is extremely vital to improving your overall well-being and enhancing your recovery process. The holiday season can be extremely busy but staying committed to your therapy sessions and self-soothing techniques can help you to continue on the path of recovery. Be proactive and create an action plan with your therapist for the holiday season. Together, establish productive coping mechanisms you can use when you are in social environments that may elicit old, destructive eating patterns.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the perfect solution to preventing old, destructive eating patterns. Because the holiday season is filled with many social events that surround food, it is important to anticipate these moments, and practice how you will respond in a productive way. Communicating with your therapist and making a plan for these moments is an extremely beneficial way for you to still enjoy these social events without reverting to old behaviors.

If your friends and family are planning events around cooking and baking, make sure that you make an action plan with your therapist of how you can still get involved in those activities while maintaining a healthy, nutritional balance.

Additionally, staying committed to your recovery by practicing positive self-talk and being mindful in the moment is vital in maintaining inner peace and contentedness during the holiday season.

Participate in your favorite holiday traditions. Revive your spirit and continue on your recovery path by having fun. Getting involved in fun, traditional activities with family and friends is the ultimate self-soothing technique that distracts your mind and engages your energy towards exciting activities. Whether it is shopping, decorating, or planning social gatherings, diving into traditions with friends and family will revive your spirit.

By immersing yourself in the holiday traditions you enjoy, you will be feeding your spirit by improving your health and your overall well-being. Use the holiday season and your commitment to self-care to empower you to enjoy the special moments with your friends and family.

Plan ahead and prioritize. Do not let the stress of the holidays inhibit all of the success you have made during your recovery journey. Take time to assess your needs with your therapist or with your family members and prioritize your events. Dedicate time for maintaining self-soothing techniques such as writing, walking, yoga, or meditation to establish normalcy during this busy time of year. If you are traveling, plan ahead and schedule time to continue on your recovery journey by meal planning and exercising to maintain a healthy balance.

Take a step back from the festivities to collect your thoughts and allow yourself to decompress. Remember, your health is of the utmost importance and the stress of the holidays can sometimes lead to old patterns of thinking and behaving. Planning all of your events ahead of time and prioritizing your needs by taking time out for yourself is a beneficial way to prevent feelings of stress.

Communicate with your friends and family. When you are surrounded by the people you love, it becomes a wonderful reminder of how much you are cared for. The priority of your friends and family is your health and overall well-being. Make sure that you communicate your struggling moments with friends and family. Tell them about your recovery journey and what they can do to help during the holiday season.

The holiday season is the ultimate opportunity for you to practice self-care because the people you love will be aware of your recovery and will do everything they can to recognize warning signs or help you enjoy the holiday festivities.

Enjoy yourself. Release any unwanted thoughts, live in the present, and enjoy yourself. Make time for your favorite activity, go to the movies with friends, or practice yoga for a break during the holiday festivities. Be kind to yourself and continue to cultivate self-compassion by immersing yourself in the holiday traditions and activities you love to do.

You are worthy and capable of having the most memorable holiday season if you let your recovery process empower you. Recognize how far you have come and enjoy the special moments with friends and family. Let this time encourage and strengthen the person you have become beyond your eating disorder.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help.  Call 1-888-771-5166 today and a specialist will answer any questions you might have.

 

Eating Disorder Recovery: Coming Out of Exile

Eating Disorder Recovery: Coming Out of Exile

It is said that no one is an island, yet through your behaviors you’ve separated yourself from other people.  To control your surroundings, you couldn’t afford to include other people in your life — because people are notoriously unpredictably and often uncontrollable.  Over time, you have walled yourself in.  Now it’s time to start dismantling your wall, brick by brick.

One of the first bricks you need to remove is the one that hides the truth about your relationship with food from those who truly love you.  They need to see what this has been doing to you.  They need to see what this is doing to your physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  They probably already have a pretty good idea of what’s been happening between you relationally, but may not realize how much your eating disorder or your disordered eating is at the core of that impact.  It’s time to let them in.  You need to allow them the opportunity to help you.

If you are a perfectionist, that attitude has fostered a solitary state of mind within you.  Perfectionism demands private effort and rewards accomplishments privately.  Part of you may not want to include others in your recovery to avoid being indebted to them in any way: It’s my challenge, so the victory should be mine.  This attitude only strengthens your perfectionism and false pride — and neither one will assist your recovery.

Those who are deeply concerned about you may want to give you that love and trust as desperately as you need to receive it.  Take the chance.  Open up to someone, but be wise about the choice.  Choose someone who loves you, and then allow that person to show you how much.  Both of you will benefit.

The time to remain trapped in your prison of food is over.  Freedom awaits you.  And included in that freedom is the reality of unpredictability.  You have already decided that you want the future to look different than it does today.  You have already acknowledged that hope is more important than control.

Life is worth a chance.  Love is worth the risk.  God is sufficient.  Believe is your recovery.  Believe in today.  Believe that God loves you.  Believe that your life makes a difference.  Believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Believe you are the light for someone else who needs hope.  Believe that the best is yet to be.  Believe in yourself.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.

What Does Forgiveness Mean to You?

What Does Forgiveness Mean to You?

Evil, destructive people must be scrupulously avoided.  Everyone else, including yourself, requires a lot of forgiveness.  You cannot punish your abuser by withholding forgiveness.  On the contrary, you can repudiate your abuser and supersede the abuse by intentionally choosing to live a different type of life, with positive responses.

Of all the ways we can respond to each other, you can choose love, mercy, and forgiveness.  These will first enrich your life, then bless the lives of others.

Think about what forgiveness means to you:

  1. Does forgiveness mean letting someone off the hook?
  2. It has been said that forgiving is also forgetting.  Do you believe that’s a good definition?  Is so, why?  It not, why not?
  3. Is it difficult for you to grant someone forgiveness if he or she doesn’t ask for it first?
  4. Do you think forgiveness involves an element of risk?  If so, what is the risk?
  5. How many times should you be expected to forgive someone?
  6. Are there some people you should not be expected to forgive?
  7. Do you feel forgiven by God?

With negative, destructive examples in your past, it is imperative that you constantly align yourself with God’s overwhelmingly positive presence in your present and future.  He will be your source of healing, forgiveness, and strength to rise above what was done to you by the sin of others.

Even more, it is his divine desire to heal your broken heart and rebuild your damaged spirit.  Make your relationship with him the primary relationship in your life.  Do this, and your ability to love yourself and others will multiply in the bounty of his love for you.

Please take some time to think about and answer the questions below.  They aren’t necessarily meant to draw you into a conclusion, but are meant to stimulate thought:

  1. How would you describe your present relationship with God?
  2. Are you satisfied with your present relationship with God?
  3. Do you feel comfortable praying to God by yourself?  When you pray to God, do you feel close to him?
  4. Do you pray because you want to talk to God or because you feel obligated to?
  5. Does the thought of prayer make you fearful, uncomfortable, awkward, or apprehensive?
  6. Do you spend time regularly reading God’s Word?  Do you generally understand what you read?
  7. Do you read the bible out of a sense of obligation or duty?
  8. Have you ever felt God speak to you through what you read?  If so, in what way?
  9. Are you a member of a faith community?  If so, what do you gain from being a member?
  10. If you are not a member of a faith community, what reasons have you given for not joining?

As you consider your responses to these questions, here is a prayer from which to draw strength.

God, with your love to strengthen me, I can truly look at and understand how I have been hurt.  Bind my wounds.  Rebuild who you created me to be.  Help me trust you.  Help me to forgive myself and others.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.

 

How Often Do You Express Vented Anger?

How Often Do You Express Vented Anger?

Vented anger, because of its “out there” nature, can be much easier to identify.  However, many people still attempt to diffuse it by calling it other names.

I’d like you to take a look at the following list of words and mark any you identify as part of your anger repertoire.  Be honest and bold.  If you have a loved one or close friend, consider asking him or her to look over the list and discuss it with you.  Other people are a good barometer of what you aren’t able to recognize in yourself.

  • Disappointed
  • Bitter
  • Resentful
  • Critical
  • Controlling
  • Hostile
  • Mean
  • Sarcastic
  • Frustrated
  • Insecure
  • Victimized
  • Destructive
  • Anxious
  • Irritable
  • Impatient
  • Blaming
  • Manipulative
  • Selfish
  • Prideful

All of these can be ways of expressing anger.  Look over your list and answer the following questions.

  1. What do you tell yourself when you feel this way?
  2. Does your thought life escalate or deescalate your feelings?
  3. How do you feel after you express these feelings?
  4. How do you feel about yourself?
  5. How do you feel about anyone else involved?
  6. How do you feel physically?
  7. How long does it take you to get over the feelings?
  8. Do you “replay” the event and the feelings inside your head?
  9. Are you ashamed of how you reacted?
  10. Are you remorseful over how you reacted?
  11. If you could get rid of one of these reactions, which one would it be and why?

Be aware of your anger levels over the next several weeks.  Write down, if you’re able, what you feel and any reasons you determine for feeling that way.  Note any out-of-line or extreme reactions or feelings.  Be sure to write these down for more examination, thought, and prayer.

Above all, remember you have an active partner in this process.  Just as God said to Cain, he says to you: “Why are you angry?  Why is your face downcast?” (Gen.4:6).  There is a why to all of this, a why that can be determined and brought out into the light.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a anger issues, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help.  Call 1-888-771-5166 today and a specialist will answer any questions you might have.