Summer Rewind: Why Do We Need To Let Other People Own Their Feelings?

This post from 2018 explores why we often take responsibility for other people’s feelings, and the subsequent impact on us and our eating behaviour.

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You’re about to send an email and you’re re-reading it for the tenth time to make absolutely sure there’s nothing in it that could be misconstrued and cause offence.   Then you check it another ten times after you’ve sent it – just in case…

You bump into a friend in the street.  As you walk away, you replay the conversation over and over in your head trying to work out if you said anything “wrong”.  You’re still rerunning the conversation in your head as you lie in bed that night…

A work colleague seems a bit off with you.  You instantly rack your brain to recall your most recent interactions with them.  You spend the day desperately trying to work out what you did to upset them so you can apologise and make things right…

Sound familiar?

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Food for Thought: To Be Nobody But Yourself

“To be nobody but yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

– e.e. cummings

In a world that says we must compare, correct and conform, this e.e. cummings quote – written decades ago – has, surely, never been more relevant.

There’s so much pressure for us to look the same, act the same, be the same.

Sometimes it’s hard to assert our uniqueness because we risk rejection.

But there’s such power in being nobody but ourselves.

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How Do You Soothe Yourself Without Food?

Back in my binge eating days, I’d often hear a soothing little voice in my ear.

If I was having a tough day at work, the voice would whisper: “it’s OK, pick up some food on your way home”. Like co-conspirators, the little voice and I would plan the binge I’d have later.

Planning was part of the bingeing ritual and looking forward to it helped me get through the day. I’d feel excited as I imagined all the food I was going to eat. All those “bad” and “naughty” things I felt I wasn’t allowed because I was firmly entrenched in the diet mentality.

But the little voice gave me permission. After all, it told me I was having a difficult day and food would make me feel better.

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Food for Thought: The Rush to Forgiveness

“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.” – Alice Miller

“I forgive them”. This is what victims of crime sometimes say when they’re interviewed on the news days, or even hours, after some terrible violation has been committed against them. Perhaps they were brutally attacked. Perhaps someone they love was murdered.

“I forgive the people who did this to me”, they say.

I always feel a sense of concern when I hear this.

Their forgiveness seems so immediate.  It makes me wonder what happened to their feelings.

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What’s the Point?

You’re having a conversation with a close friend. There’s something exciting going on in your life and you’re dying to fill them in. As you talk, you’re brimming with energy and enthusiasm about your venture. When you finish, rather than sharing in your excitement your friend says flatly:

“What’s the point?”

Slightly stunned, you ask them to explain what they mean.

“Well”, they say, “it’s just that you’ll never do it. You’ll never achieve that. You might as well give up”.

How do you feel?

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Gentle Reminder: Be Sensitive to Yourself

You’re walking back from the shops one day when, out of the corner of your eye, you sense movement in a nearby alleyway.

As you approach, you realise it’s a little child, about 4 years old.  As she turns her face towards you, you see that she’s crying.  Her expression is a mix of anguish and fear.  She’s alone, save for a small teddy which she’s clutching with both hands.

You bend down in front of her.

Then, you reach into your shopping bag and remove a tube of Pringles, a packet of 12 doughnuts, a family pack of chocolate bars and a large tub of ice-cream.

“Eat these until you feel sick”, you tell her.

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