How to Feel the Fear and Not Overeat Anyway

Empower yourself to control what you can and not let fear hinder you.

You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. Marcus Aurelius

I left my native Sweden the day after high school. For the past twelve years, I’ve been travelling and living overseas.

During this time, my father has asked me very little about my life. Hardly any questions about the places I see, the people I meet, what I’m learning and what I’m doing.

Instead, he’s been bombarding me with his worry about everything that can go wrong in this dangerous world. (I need a 9–5 job because I might get sick, I shouldn’t travel because it’s dangerous, I shouldn’t explore new ideas because I might end up in a cult.)

I understand that he means well, but his worry is the last thing I need. I have enough of my own. I also wish he’d realise that I’m a grown-up, capable woman — not a precious china doll who should be kept on a shelf to not break to pieces.

The list of what people, and perhaps especially women, should be afraid of today is endless. Wrinkles, cellulite, too much sex, too little sex, age, loneliness… No wonder, so many of us feel hopeless and retreat to binge watching Grey’s Anatomy with a tub of ice cream to shut out the noise.

I wonder if there is a link between the universal message to women that we should be scared, and the widespread eating disorders among women?

I’m afraid that scary, dangerous things have indeed happened during my travels. For instance, I was dating a physically abusive man in my early twenties. But he was not some creepy stranger in a back alley — he was someone I chose to call my “boyfriend”.

Why? My self-esteem was so low, and I was desperate for anyone to “care” about me. The statistics support this: violence most often comes from someone we know, not strangers.

I’m not for a second blaming myself for this man’s despicable and unacceptable behaviour. If you’d ever find yourself in that situation, please do talk to someone and seek help!

I’m just saying that it’s important for me to see my part in what happened, so that I never ever put myself in that situation again. (I now know that having a rage attack on an innocent taxi driver on the first date is not a great sign for mental stability.)

It’s also important from a fear perspective: if I just focus on what I can control (in this case my self-esteem and whom I’m dating), I have so much less to be scared of. And with that, a less urge to suppress my feelings with comfort eating…

I wish my dad would have chosen another message to me. I wish he’d focus on building me up, instead of trying to scare me. Not that I’m blaming him for anything — luckily, I can empower myself. And that is my top priority now!

I don’t want to be held back by anything, and I do not want to waste any more days paralysed by fear in front of some TV-series with chocolate all over my face.

Yes, there is danger in the world. There is also a lot of beauty, love, adventure and other amazing things… I will focus on that. I will feel the fear, but I will not overeat because of it.

What are you scared of, and how is it affecting your eating? And most importantly: how can you empower yourself so that you don’t have to use food to handle your fear?

Common Fears and How to Empower Yourself for Each:

  1. Fear of violence. To protect yourself from violent strangers: do a self-defence course. To protect yourself from violent relationships: do everything you can (therapy, self-love, coaching, you name it) to build a healthy self-esteem, to stay away from psychos.
  2. Fear of going broke. Create an Emergency Fund (that you don’t touch unless you must) of at least three months’ expenses. This book explained the basics of personal finance to me when my finances were a mess. Does it feel like it will take you ages to build your savings? Make a list of how you’d manage even if you’d go broke (for example housesitting, staying with family or friends).
  3. Fear of loneliness. Create a network and nurture it. People will be there for you when you are there for them. Every day, think of how you can help someone and do it. Keep track of people’s birthdays (Facebook makes it simple) and call them (don’t just send an impersonal Wall message) to wish Happy Birthday and see how they are going.

I’m not going to say that I “live every day as if it was my last”, because then I’d be doing something different right now than typing on my computer… But I’m constantly reminding myself that I have no idea when everything will end, so I better make the most out of my life.

Therefore, I’m doing as much as possible of what is important to me as soon as possible. I travel to the places I want to see, and I do the things that I want to do — all while doing what is under my control to be as safe as possible.

I think that’s a lot more fun than being a precious china doll.

Alexia Bjarkan

Weight Loss Coach at The Benefactory.

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Well done.

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I wish you a beneficial day.

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