Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Have you ever felt invalidated?

Women often report that during their lifetimes they have often felt invalidated. When they attempted to let their parents, teachers or friends how they felt, they were sometimes ignored and often told they “shouldn’t” feel that way. For many this frustrating and painful experience led them to keep their true feelings to themselves. Instead of being encouraged to express their authentic emotions, they were told to feel what others wanted them to feel. In this way, many women grow out of touch with their own emotions and eventually seek validation and approval stating they are thinking and feeling what they expect they “should” be thinking and feeling, rather than what they actually are experiencing.

Because our feelings are our internal guidance system, it is imperative that we learn to recognize and express our genuine emotions. I will discuss this in more detail in my next book (details on that when publication date is announced). For now it is important to realize that your feelings, whatever they may be, are valid. It may be difficult for many of you to trust your emotions at first if you have spent years denying your true feelings to gain approval and to avoid invalidation. It is well worth the effort to tune in to your feelings and to learn to express yourself.

Only when you feel authentic and clear will you be able to move towards health and freedom and joy. Once you can express yourself openly and assert your right to do so, you will be able to take charge of your life and your weight issues and emotional eating patterns will fade into the background.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Why aren’t we good enough?

Women are bombarded with messages on a moment to moment basis about how to look, how to act, what to say, etc. Messages come from all directions – from family members, friends, institutions and the media for example. Women are constantly being looked at and evaluated. Their weight is often everyone’s business and well-meaning relatives may offer advice about ways to be more slender and attractive. This is a dreadful predicament for any woman in our society.

If you pause in the check out line of the supermarket you will find it difficult (and often impossible) to spot a publication that won’t tell you what and how you need to change. Headlines advertise ways to flatten your tummy, tighten your buttocks, get rid of your unsightly bulges, perform better in bed and get rid of that acne. You can buy these magazines and learn how to have a smoother, fresher complexion, reduce wrinkles and lift your sagging breasts all the while preparing and serving amazing meals in minutes. You will read about the importance of diet and exercise and most likely unearth much conflicting information. If you try to follow all of the advice dispensed from the news stand, you will likely become more discouraged and eat even more to soothe the painful feelings you will experience realizing that you can’t do and be and have it all. Emotional eating takes away the confusion and pain - temporarily.

Along with these headlines you will find slender smiling women who are held up as examples of how we all should look. These photographs are often altered, blemishes (and even pores) air brushed away. Breasts are enlarged, waistlines diminished, eyelashes lengthened and legs sculpted. We can’t really tell what’s real and what isn’t but we are sure that we don’t look like that.

Is it any wonder that women have a hard time maintaining a positive body image and a healthy level of self-esteem?

Remember, you are perfect just as you are! Blessings, Dr. Denise

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Express Yourself

Express Yourself

Many of us never learned how to communicate within ourselves or with others. As we practice the skill of talking with our inner being, we are likely to discover that we want and need to communicate more honestly, clearly, and fully with those around us. This is not easy for many of us. Most of us were taught to be quiet from an early age (Children should be seen and not heard!). If we did dare to speak up we may have been ridiculed or discounted. Our precious thoughts may have been negated and our feelings invalidated. Soon we learned to withhold our true thoughts and to bury our feelings deep inside -- so deep that we may have lost touch with them ourselves. These consequences of our self-expression were painful, and it didn’t take us long to realize and appreciate the soothing relief we could find with a few cookies or a big dish of ice cream. Many of us soon became experts at emotional eating.

So now, when it is important for us to speak up as adults we may feel fearful. This is understandable given the ways our communication may have been received in the past. Ask yourself what is your worst fear if you speak up in the particular situation that concerns you. Is this fear realistic? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Sometimes knowing what your greatest fear is can dispel the power we have given in anticipation of a confrontation or rejection. It is easier by far to swallow a brownie than to tell your neighbor you don’t want to care for her child again. But, if you don’t speak up, and she doesn’t happen to be a mind reader, nothing will change and you will likely go on eating an endless supply of sweets, gaining weight, and harboring greater resentment towards her for taking advantage of you and towards yourself for allowing her to. Then you will need more anesthetic sugar fixes to keep that anger and resentment at bay.

So it is vital that you learn to assert yourself and communicate what your wants and needs truly are. You deserve to ask for what you want and to express your feelings. Your feelings are no more or less important than anyone else’s. You can always ask for what you need and express all that you wish to express. This earthly life is your experience, and you are responsible for creating the experience you want. Others around you are responsible for creating their own life experiences. You can’t live your life to serve their needs to the exclusion of your own. Nor can you expect others to read your mind, discover what your needs are, and live their lives in service of you. Each of us must make our own choices and create the most positive, joyful life possible.

My very warmest springtime wishes.... Dr. Denise

Friday, May 1, 2009

Slow down!

How wonderful that you are taking the time to read this blog and to stop and think about yourself right now. Forget what you have done in the past. You can in an instant transform yourself and your life if you choose to. While transforming yourself may seem impossible, even though desirable, you really can. You will need to slow down, however, and then begin to implement the following suggestions:

1. Stop, Look, and Listen
2. Consider Your Choices

Today I will address these:

Step 1. Stop, Look, and Listen

Pause long enough to notice your surroundings. Notice the colors, the scents, the sounds, and all the details. Allow yourself to tune in to the full experience of just being wherever you are at the moment. Then quiet your mind with some deep breaths and begin to notice what feelings are percolating around inside of you at that time. You are likely experiencing a number of things. Try to identify some of the most powerful feelings. (It may help to write them down.) Then as you acknowledge these feelings to yourseIf, you can tune in fully to the experience you are having at the moment.

For example you might say, “I notice I feel tired and overwhelmed. I didn’t sleep well last night because I have been worrying a lot about my job [or relationship or money or health or something else]. Also notice how you feel physically. For example, I feel tension in my neck and shoulders, and I am cranky and short tempered this morning.”

Step 2. Consider Your Choices

As you notice what you are feeling, you position yourself to decide what you truly need to do to take the best care of yourself in that moment. In the past you have most likely used food to dull these important feeling messages and you have missed the chance to identify your real needs. You may find you are tempted to grab a few pastries or some candy when you do this exercise. Your reaction is natural as it has become the primary way you have been meeting your needs. But perhaps you can defer that automatic response of food abuse and instead think of something else that might better meet your needs.

Remind yourself that although your energy is low and life feels particularly difficult in this moment that you do have options. Have a conversation with yourself. For example, you might say, “Yes, I notice I am tired and discouraged and fearful right now. What would be the very best, most effective and gentle way to take care of my true needs at this particular time? Perhaps I can call my friend and talk awhile or take a walk with my dog or a nap. Maybe I just need a little quiet time to regroup, meditate, pray, or cry. What is it I am really craving if I bypass my usual, mind-numbing sugar or carbohydrate fix? Do I need stimulation or relaxation, isolation or socialization? Do I need protein or more water or a little sunshine? Do I need to attend to some unfinished business or do I need to let someone know how I feel?”

These suggestions may seem elementary and indeed they are. However, I find that most of the people whom I speak with do not take the time to tune into themselves very often, and quite possibly never do. This is primary and this is a central piece of the mindless overeating puzzle. So spend a little time thinking about it and noticing how you may be mindlessly darting around all day reacting to whatever experiences you encounter along your path. Pause and check in with yourself today from time to time and see how things change. You will become more active, less reactive and feel less overwhelmed and helpless.

I hope we have seen the last of this bitter cold weather and remember, you can reach me at Denise@DeniseLamothe.com anytime. I’d love to hear from you with feedback, questions, or suggestions for future topics you’d like to see addressed in this blog.

Meanwhile, make today absolutely fantastic!

Dr Denise