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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.

Emotional Abuse:  The Illusionist

Emotional Abuse: The Illusionist

“Bill is such a great guy!” Carly smiled and made some sort of neutral comment. It did absolutely no good to dispute the evidence of Bill’s obvious charm. He was engaging, witty, energetic, and charismatic. People liked him. She knew the feeling.

When Carly first met Bill, she was overwhelmed by his outgoing nature. His gestures were larger than life, outlandish even. But to a young woman being courted, he seemed the walking incarnation of romance. She was being wooed. What Carly didn’t realize was that while she was being wooed by Bill, she and everyone else were being fooled. Bill’s grand gestured and protestations of care and love were for general audiences only. In the intimacy of the private viewing area called home, Bill turned out to be someone quite different.

At first, Carly just put up with Bill’s moodiness, nastiness, and withdrawing into himself. She figured he would snap out of it. It didn’t take her long to learn that Bill’s negative private behavior could turn in an instant if someone cam over to the apartment. Finally, she mentioned to Bill her concern over the way he treated her at home as opposed to the way he treated her in front of others.

Bill’s reaction was astonishment. He acted as if he had no idea what she was talking about. Every incident she brought up was countered with a rush of excuses, reasons and outright denials as Bill fought to maintain the illusion of himself as the compassionate lover, the life of the party, the perfect soul mate. It struck Carly that Bill needed her only as long as she continued to mirror the reflection of himself he so needed to see.

Illusionists are generally highly intelligent, charismatic people who thrive on being seen well by others. As long as there is an audience, they are “on.” Because it takes a great deal of energy to be “on,” their “off” persona may be the exact opposite. In public they are witty and humorous; in private they are sarcastic and cutting. In public they are deferential and attentive; in private they are hostile and distant. In public they are happy and easygoing; in private they are sullen and angry.

Being in a relationship with an illusionist can cause you to doubt your own judgment. Because illusionists are generally highly intelligent, they are able to convince you, even in the face of contrary evidence, that the concerns you have are invalid.

If there is a problem, you are always portrayed as the source. Feigning confusion, they appear shocked that you find their behavior unusual. If you ask other people, people who have seen only the carefully constructed illusion, you may not get validation of your concerns. Instead, you may hear a reiteration of how wonderful the illusionist is. Highly persuasive, the illusionist is very adept at creating and maintaining a positive image.

What is most important to illusionists is the maintenance of the illusion of who they are. You are valuable to them only when you are helping them to maintain this illusion. You become a danger to them if you question the illusion they have created. Because the illusion is more important to them than you are, the truth is never acknowledged. Your reality of events and circumstances is consistently denied, downplayed, explained away, rejected. This is a pernicious form of emotional abuse in that it causes the abused to second-guess his or her own assessment of the relationship. As such, many will stay in the relationship for an extended period of time until their ability to help their abuser maintain the illusion demands too great an emotional toll.

At this point, the abused person will lean but with his or her sense of self seriously tattered. After all, how could anyone leave such a great person? Because others have not seen through this illusion, the abused person who leaves can appear to be in the wrong. Not only does the abused lose the relationship, be he or she may lose any friends made during the relationship.

If you or a loved one is struggling with emotional, sexual or physical abuse, or body image or other dependency 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.

What You Put Into Your Body Matters

What You Put Into Your Body Matters

It is important not only to eat healthy foods but to eat them in the proper proportion.  As a unique individual, you have an amount of calories needed each day and a weight range that is healthy and right for you.  I wholeheartedly encourage you to visit with your primary care physician or gynecologist, if you have not done so already, and determine what a healthy weight looks like for you.

Different women have different body types and frames, so two women of the same height arrive at different healthy weights.  Many women are as cyclical with their weight as they are with their periods.   They lose and gain the same ten to fifteen to twenty pounds over and over again.  When the weight is off, they’re happy.  When the weight is on, they’re miserable.

Because of the nature of yo-yo dieting, the tendency over time is for the weight to come back on, stay on, and increase.  As you work with your doctor to find your healthy weight, come up with a plan to not only achieve that weight but also maintain it over time.

Additionally, how you feel and the health of your body depends not only on what you eat but also what else you put into your body.  If you are a smoker, I urge you to quit.  Pumping nicotine into your system and smoke into your lungs is not good for you.  The evidence of the damage done, apart from the dangers of lung cancer, is compelling.  Smoking is an age accelerant, as its toxicity contributes to a more rapid decline of the body and overall health.  If you smoke, you need to stop.  This is also a conversation for you to have with your physician.

Be aware of the preservatives, additives, and hormones used in the foods you eat and drinks you consume.  Many women have sensitivities and allergic reactions to these substances.  Whenever possible, choose organic-type produce and foods.  There are medical tests you can take that can help identify if your body is experiencing an ongoing allergic reaction to foods and other substances.  If you suspect you are allergic to a certain food, eliminate it from your diet for a period of time and track your symptoms.  When your body is under constant assault because of a sensitivity or allergic response, it will affect how you feel.

Be aware of the amount of alcohol you consume.  As a chemical dependency professional, as well as a licensed counselor, I’ve seen the hard alcohol causes.  If you have a problem with alcohol, don’t drink at all.  If you don’t have a problem with alcohol, make sure to drink moderately.  Not only do you need to be aware of the alcohol you are consuming, you need to also be aware of the extra calories in that alcohol.  The more you drink, the more you impact the amount of calories consumed each day.

Lastly, be aware of the type and quantity of drugs you take.  These include, of course, over-the-counter, prescription, and illicit drugs.  If you are concerned about what you’re taking and how much, consider having a chemical dependency assessment done.  These assessments factor in both legal and illegal substances and evaluate your level of dependency and abuse.  If you’re worried or if family and friends have expressed their concern, if your use has interfered with your job or with social and family functions, I urge you to seek professional advice and assessment.

Please be aware that use and misuse of drugs is one strategy women use to self-medicate their feelings of anger.  Because the anger is suppressed and not dealt with, it doesn’t go away.  Because the anger doesn’t go away, the need for self-medicating doesn’t go away, and use can change to abuse.

If you or a loved one is struggling with body image or other dependency issues, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help.  Call 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.

Overcoming Denial and Facing Your Eating Disorder

Overcoming Denial and Facing Your Eating Disorder

Successful recovery from an eating disorder requires you to spend an enormous amount of time thinking about who you are. Keep in mind that really looking at yourself honestly is not self-absorption; it is introspection. Self-absorption leads to a false reality; introspection leads to insight. Insight leads to truth.

We all have times in our lives when we need to concentrate on ourselves in order to survive. This is definitely one of those times for you. Your eating disorder has brought you to a point where you’re seeing that this introspection is really addressing your survival.

Pride—both your own and that of those who hurt you—will work against your recovery. Faulty pride cannot coexist with perceived imperfection; it’s impossible to be prideful when you recognize your own flaws and weaknesses so clearly. You’re beginning to understand that your eating disorder was not the “perfect” solution it promised to be. You’re starting to remember that yours wasn’t the “perfect” family after all. You’re now seeing that your pursuit of being “perfect” yourself isn’t bringing you any sense of peace.

It’s okay to admit that you’ve made mistakes. To do so is simply to recognize your humanity. And it’s perfectly fine to recognize the mistakes of others; you’re simply seeing them for who they really are. It’s okay to understand the way others’ mistakes have affected you; you’re simply accepting reality.

Accepting reality means facing the pain and discomfort in order to process it and place it in its proper context. Within that context, your pain will cease to wield such unhealthy power over you. The truth will weaken the hold your self-destructive behaviors have over you. Truth is not something to fear; rather, it is something to be embraced. The truth will not diminish you, no matter how much your false reality says it will. The truth will complete you, giving you needed understanding of yourself and others. The truth will enable you to operate from a new reference point of strength so you can deal with future hurts, pain, and frustration.

False realities do not dissipate quickly. They are stubborn and hold on for dear life. But you must let them go. If you don’t, you won’t be able to change from wanting to die to wanting to live. You must let go of pride. Coming out of the darkness of a false reality of pride is not an overnight trip. It will require determination, perseverance, and faith. It will require an acceptance of your own weakness and an admission of your own need for God to strengthen you.

For many people, it also requires outside, professional support. Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE is skilled at guiding people through a whole-person, individualized recovery program, designed specifically for you and your needs. We are standing by to help you face your eating disorder and to heal. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with an eating disorder specialist today.

 

Rebuilding the Body’s Digestion System After an Eating Disorder

Rebuilding the Body’s Digestion System After an Eating Disorder

Eating disorders can wreak havoc on all aspects of a person’s life: their mental wellness, emotional balance, relationships with the people around them, and most certainly their physical body. Recovering from an eating disorder therefore requires comprehensive treatment in order to address each of these areas of a person’s life. Healing the physical body after suffering from an eating disorder is a process that takes care and time, and in some cases needs to be supervised by medical specialists.

Typically, to start your body’s rebalancing process you must first rebuild your digestion, your gastrointestinal (GI) ecosystem. After all, if you are unable to digest what you need to rebalance your system, what you take to rebalance it will have little value. The first step is to re-establish your digestive system’s natural levels of healthy bacteria. Although each body is different, a healthy digestive system supports 300-1000 different species of beneficial flora. Together, these species account for the approximately 100 trillion microorganisms found in the GI system. When healthy digestive bacteria flourish, they provide the mechanism to break down the substances you eat into components your body can absorb and use. Likewise, digestive enzymes allow food to be broken down into its component parts for easy absorption and a reduction in intestinal bloating and gas. When your digestive enzyme level is out of whack, healthy flora can’t grow; unhealthy organisms like yeast Candida, make opportune use of this imbalance. Faulty digestion also affects mood and energy levels. If your stomach is upset, you get irritable and fatigued.

Eating disorders can take a major toll on the number and diversity of beneficial stomach flora. It is therefore paramount to rebuild the bacterial colonies before any sort of nutritional absorption can occur. There is not one quick solution to rebuilding healthy digestion, but instead healing requires multifaceted, continual progress. Here are four important nutritional practices to keep in mind when building or maintaining a healthy digestive system:

1. Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods can be the easiest and most cost-effective way of rebuilding your digestive enzymes. Some examples of fermented foods include yogurt, lacto-fermented pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, and keifer.

2. Stick to a clean, healthy diet. While fermented and fiber rich foods can help contribute to healthy flora in your system, there are also foods that negatively affect this process. Processed foods, sugary foods, and foods laden with chemicals and pesticides should be avoided.

3. Consume fiber. Another important step to rebuilding your digestion is the reintroduction of adequate fiber, to keep your elimination system regular. One of the best ways to do this is through the consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Reintroduction of adequate fiber is especially important when there as been laxative abuse. The bowels need to relearn how to function again.

4. Supplement your diet with a probiotic supplement. Taking a probiotic supplement can dramatically speed up this flora rebuilding process. When looking for a good probiotic, it is important to find a supplement that includes many different strains of bacteria to ensure good diversity. Also, make sure to store your probiotics in the refrigerator to keep them alive and active.

Once you reestablish healthy digestive flora, your gastrointestinal ecosystem will be better equipped to begin absorbing the nutrients the rest of your body needs to heal. Again, this is a process that requires careful patience. If you or a loved one is in the process of recovering from an eating disorder but may need the supervision or support of professional nutritionists, please call the team at The Center • A Place of HOPE at 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Hope Help & Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.