20 Apr How to Feel the Fear and Not Overeat Anyway
Control What You Can and Overcome Binge Eating Due to Fear.
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 traveling and living overseas.
During this time, my dad 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, my dad has bombarded me with his worry about everything that can go wrong in this terrible 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’ve got enough stress on my own. I also wish he’d realize 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.
Fear Turning Into Binge Eating
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 fear message to women and the widespread eating disorders?
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 behavior. If you’d ever find yourself in that situation, please do talk to someone and seek help!
No More Mental Case Boyfriends, Please
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 to take responsibility 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 fear. 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’s my top priority now!
I don’t want to be held back by anything, and I don’t want to waste any more days paralyzed 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: Take a Self-Defence Course and Build Your Self-Esteem
Take a self-defense course to protect yourself from violent strangers. But as I shared earlier, sometimes the most dangerous people are the ones we let into our lives. To safeguard against an abusive relationship, do everything you can to build a healthy self-esteem.
2. Fear of Going Broke: Create a Safety Net
A Safety Net is a bank account that you don’t touch unless you absolutely must. Save up 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, you could housesit or stay with family and friends. Going broke is NOT the end of the world!
3. Fear of Loneliness: Create a Network
But don’t just create a network – nurture it too! 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.
Now, over to you. Is fear affecting your eating? Share it with me!