Food for Thought: Waking Up to Our Boundaries

“Boundaries are the lines we draw that mark off our autonomy and that of other people, that protect our privacy and that of others. Boundaries allow for intimate connection without dissolving or losing one’s sense of self.”   

– Amy Bloom

I love this definition of boundaries by Amy Bloom – psychotherapist, author, screenwriter and probably my new shero.

Boundaries make it safe for us to engage with others, without compromising our independence.  They separate us from each other, while at the same time allowing us to be close. Rather than a barrier to relationship, boundaries give us the means to connect authentically.

But what if we don’t know where they are?

If our personal boundaries aren’t respected in childhood, we struggle to find them in adulthood.

Without an understanding of our own and others’ boundaries, relationships are tricky. What happens if someone wants more from us than we’re willing to give? How do we say no?

Boundary violations can become so habitual we never stop to consider what’s OK with us and what’s not – we just accept without question and sleepwalk our way through our interactions.

It’s hard to define something that’s invisible. But while we can’t see our boundaries, we can feel them. Rather than ignoring what it feels like when someone steps over the line, we can use that sensation as a guide to identify our line.  Then, instead of sleepwalking, we can wake up to our personal boundaries and begin to define them clearly.

Ultimately, we can learn to engage with others in a meaningful way while still protecting our autonomy, our integrity and our sense of self.

Gentle Reminder: You are Enough

If I were to ask you why you’re not enough, you’d probably say “I don’t know, it’s just what I feel”.

But a feeling isn’t truth. It’s not fact.

It’s just a feeling.

If I challenged you to give me a list of your deficits and defects, would you struggle to produce concrete evidence?

Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: You are Enough”

Expert Insight: Finding Satisfaction with Food is like Learning to Ride a Bike

“Compare teaching yourself to eat just the right amount of food to teaching a child to ride a bike. Do children learn easily when you get angry or criticize them for making mistakes? Will children feel like giving up if they are expected to do it perfectly right away? Will they want to try again if they’re ashamed about falling off? Or do they learn best when you observe what they do, encourage each positive step they take, and offer gentle suggestions on how they can improve? Do they want to keep trying because you focus on how much they are progressing, not on what they do wrong? Will they feel encouraged when they notice it gets a little easier each time?

Learning to stop eating when you’re satisfied is exactly the same. You’re most likely to learn when you’re gentle, patient, encouraging and optimistic with yourself throughout the process. Continue reading “Expert Insight: Finding Satisfaction with Food is like Learning to Ride a Bike”

How Much is Enough?

You’re having dinner at a restaurant with friends. You skipped lunch so your stomach is growling like a caged beast as you examine the menu. You go to town on the bread basket and devour your starter as soon as it arrives. Now the waiter puts your main course in front of you. It’s a sizeable portion and you’ve eaten almost enough already.

What goes through your mind?

  1. Nothing. You pick up your knife and fork and eat until you’re finished.
  2. “I’ll have to eat it. If I don’t, what will people think?”
  3. “Diet starts again tomorrow so bring it on!”
  4. “I’m paying for it, so I might as well eat it, otherwise it’s a waste.”
  5. “But it looks so good! Also, I’ve had a tough day so I deserve it.”

Which answer leads to you feeling satisfied and thoroughly enjoying your evening?

Continue reading “How Much is Enough?”

Food for Thought: The Enjoyment of Less

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness” – Charles Spurgeon.

I’ve spent my month’s blogging break decluttering my house.

I mean seriously decluttering.

Decluttering in the past meant I’d throw out a few things, take some bits and pieces to the charity shop and really just fanny about with everything else. I might box some stuff up and put it in the loft or hide it in cupboards or drawers but, truthfully, it was always more like strategic resettlement rather than a coordinated clear-out.

Continue reading “Food for Thought: The Enjoyment of Less”

Personal Note: Taking a Break

“The opportunity to step away from everything and take a break is something that shouldn’t be squandered.” – Harper Reed

Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while will know that in January this year, I upped my publishing schedule from one post a month to four. Alongside my client work, both in my private practice and at the eating disorders charity I work for, it’s quite a commitment. A hugely enjoyable commitment, but a commitment nonetheless.

And I need a break from it.

So, in the interest of self-care and being able to give you my very best, I’m taking a blogging break during August. That way, I can recharge and get some headspace before coming back with a wallop next month.

Continue reading “Personal Note: Taking a Break”

Gentle Reminder: Something about Feelings

This is the blog post where I wrap up the theme for the month – in this case hope and hopelessness – and link to an older post from the archives.

There’s just one problem.

It’s the first day of my holiday and I’m currently sitting in the kitchen of a gorgeous little cottage in the Cotswolds. The countryside is unbelievably beautiful. The weather is perfect. The only sounds I can hear are the gentle hum of the fridge, birds chirping in the courtyard outside and the tap-tap-tap of my fingers hitting the keyboard.

Why is this a problem? Well, I’ve come down with a severe case of lazyitis (must be the change of water, I think) and I’m struggling to write the post I was planning to write which, I recall, was something about feelings. Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: Something about Feelings”