Posts filed under Psychology

What a Marble Jar can Teach us About Self-Trust and Trusting Our Bodies

I’m currently reading “Daring Leadership” by Dr. Brene Brown, whose work about courage and vulnerability is something that I truly admire.  Having helped many hard working women heal their relationship with food over the past 4 years, I find resonance with many concepts Brene shares.

One of these concepts Brene discusses trust.  From personal experience I can recall times times when I opened my heart up to someone only to get hurt.  Or if there was something I truly desired and things didn’t go my way, I would feel disappointed. For me and many people, the original “trauma” then perhaps led us to close our hearts to letting others see us as we are and to stop going for our dreams.   After all, if you don’t ever want to get hurt in a relationship, then just stop connecting with others or loving, right? Or if you don’t ever want to be disappointed, then just stop trying to build your business/lose weight/write a book, right? It sounds silly writing in this way but in reality, so many of us go through a similar experience where we close our hearts in the face of hurt.

In one of my favorite parts of the book, Brene teaches her daughter about trust in relationships.  After a hurtful experience with a peer in class, Brene did not want her daughter to turn to shame, fear, and close off her heart to future relationships.  Brene then shared a marble analogy that could help her daughter understand how trust is built. In her daughter’s class, the teacher kept a clear glass jar on her desk.  Whenever the class did something positive she put marbles in the jar and whenever they did something negative or were unruly, she would take marbles out. Brene then told her daughter to think of her friends she can trust (“marble people”) in the same way.

“Whenever someone supports you, or is kind to you, or sticks up for you, or honors what you share with them as private, you put marbles in the jar. When people are mean, or disrespectful, or share your secrets, marbles come out.”


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 I really loved this analogy because it applies not only to friendships but to all relationships, including the one we have with ourselves and our bodies.

So how do you build trust with yourself and your body?  The marble analogy also applies. Every decision in support and love for our bodies and selves can be seen as a marble in the jar.  Every decision in disrespect or hate for ourselves and our bodies can be seen as a marble taken out.

When we listen to how our body speaks through what is causing it pain vs. pleasure, in that moment we are putting a marble in the jar. If we hear our body is hungry and nourish it with food, that’s a marble in the jar.  If we hear our body is cramped and needs to movement and stretching, that’s a marble in the jar.

On the flip side, there can be many times that we ignore our body’s signs and take a marble out of the jar.  If we’re starving ourselves because our “diet said so,” we may be taking a marble out of the jar. Anytime we demonize our appetite, hunger, or the way we look, we remove a marble out of the jar.  Anytime we drown our negative emotions with food or we push harder past our current exhaustion, we’re removing marbles from the jar.

Looking back, the version of me that struggled with binge eating was in complete distrust of herself and her body.  She was driven to achieve out of fear. She found herself overworking, overcommitting, and ignoring her needs for rest and rejuvenation.  Food therefore became a way to cope with the stress and feelings of exhaustion and loneliness. Her emotions told her something had to change but because she did not know what to do with those intense feelings, food became the way to drown the feelings out even for a few minutes.

By paying attention to my body, she learned how to eat in a way that supported it.  My emotions and energy also pointed her towards what lifestyle & career would work suit her best.  (It’s the reason why I’ve become a coach today.)

Trust takes time and is built in the micro-decisions we make each day.  If you’re wondering how to begin to this process, here are some suggestions:

  1. Pay attention to how your body speaks to you - Your body sends you very clear messages of what it needs, if only we would pay attention!  For example, when you have you pee, it’s very clear and it’s almost a pain sensation in your pelvis that signals it’s time to get up for the bathroom.  Hunger is also a very clear signal of a stomach sensation or a grumbling.

    What is your body saying right now? Perhaps it’s telling you that you need to stretch and walk around after sitting all day.  If so, get up and do that!

  2. Start tuning into your feelings & emotions - Emotions and feelings are the language of the body. Some people fear that if they tune into their feelings and emotions, they’ll get soft and fall apart. While the key here isn’t that your feelings and emotions run your life, if you’re not paying attention to them, you’re missing out on a valuable information system.  Sometimes before the clear thought or explanation comes, our emotions can signal what is truly right for us or wrong for us. At the end of the day, we all want to be happy - so why not tune into what lights you up?

  3. Examine your internal and external dialogue towards your body as well as your beliefs about your body - Do you find yourself berating your  body? Or are you celebrating all that it does for you to keep you alive and well?

    One belief that helped me to rebuild trust in my body is reclaiming the belief that my body is infinitely wise and intelligent. Wellness is my body’s natural state. I began to look for evidence of this belief. If I got a cut or scrape, my body is already designed to work towards healing. Or if I tune into hunger, my body is already designed to tell me what it needs.. If I “get out of the way” by listening and supporting my body, it works towards wellness effortlessly.

Trust takes time to build in all relationships, including the relationship you have with yourself.  What choice can you make today to put a marble in your own jar of self-trust? Please comment and share below so we can all benefit from your insights!

Stay well, eat well, and savor all that life has to give you to because life is simply too short not to!

Keia



A Message to All My Current and Recovering Perfectionists

As a coach, one of the biggest things I help my clients with is the mindset for developing a healthy relationship with food and themselves.  In our information-overloaded world, it’s not the lack of information that often keeps people stuck but their beliefs and perceptions. One of the biggest mindset blocks I see and had to overcome myself is the belief that you have to get things perfectly in order to be successful.  Have you ever heard someone say something like : “I did so well with my eating.. Then I totally blew it… and then I kept on blowing it for the next 2 weeks…” ? Or perhaps perfectionism can show up as someone using food or another numbing agent to handle the pressure of not measuring up in a job or in school.  Somewhere in becoming adults many of us learned to equate our achievements and external results with our self-worth. Perfectionism is therefore dangerous and addictive. It’s built on shame and fear that if we don’t measure up, we’re not worthy of love… and so often if we “fail” on something, we attribute it to WHO we are and blame ourselves. Perfectionism can also stop us from even trying or starting something because we prefer to avoid the pain of the “imminent failure".”

How to Love your Body Even if You Still Struggle with Food or Haven't "Lost the Weight" Yet

One common misconception is that if you love yourself now, you’ll stop going for what you want and become a lifeless vegetable. I find this is far from the case. At certain times, choosing to love your body now might mean to stop the striving and fighting especially if you realize it’s not working for you and isn’t getting you closer to what you truly want in life. At other times, choosing to love yourself and your body might mean challenging yourself to work harder to move towards what you truly want.

So how do you practice loving yourself and your body even if you aren’t yet where you want to be with food? Here are 3 ways to start practicing today:

How Loneliness & Isolation Perpetuates the Binge Eating Cycle

 Just as physical hunger is the signal for us to eat, and thirst is the single for us to drink water, loneliness is a signal for us to seek connection.  Unfortunately, what keeps so many people stuck from seeking the connection and support they need is shame.  Shame is the belief that inherently there is something wrong and broken with us and therefore we are unworthy of true love and belonging.  This differs from guilt, which is a signal that we have acted out of alignment of our values. While guilt says we’ve done something bad or wrong (that could be changed), shame insidiously tells us we are bad or wrong.

The cycle so often goes like this for food and so many other addictive-type behaviors:

Feel intense loneliness and shame —> binge eat —> isolate oneself and feel more lonely and shameful —> continue binge eating

I’ve seen from my experience and that of my clients that feeling out-of-control with food in itself is painful.   Add on top of that feeling like you’re alone and the only one struggling with the issue and the experience can be excruciating.

A Brain Science Perspective on Binge Eating + How to Break Free from the Habit

I’m sitting her in a coffee shop where I just enjoyed some tea and a cupcake (gluten-free for me ;), having fully enjoyed experience of eating.  To think, in the past I feared cupcakes and would avoid them at all costs…

Flashback to 2013….I remember a particular morning I woke up, feeling bloated and disgusted with myself.  I had binged the night before going completely mindless with food. For me, binge eating started as an occasional occurrence in middle and high school, but once I started my first year of college, it had become an daily nightmare.  I was in my 4th year of college at the time, which had been incredibly stressful with the number of classes I was taking, trying to balance my extracurriculars and social life, and uncertainty about my future career.

I look back with compassion on the writings of my younger self.  I wish someone could have told her that overcoming binge eating wouldn’t always be a linear process.  There were some days I would learn a new concept or tool and do really well my eating.  “Yes!!! Finally!  I’d tell myself… this is the answer.”  Inevitably, the new “diet high” would wear off and I would be back to where I started.  Then I’d beat myself up and wonder if something was wrong with me or even binge to escape the sense of unworthiness I felt.

Looking back, I wish someone had told me to be gentle with myself.  After all, I was doing my very best.  I wish someone had told me that change and healing isn’t always linear.  At the time, I think it’s something I understood theoretically but didn’t fully embody especially having come from a culture and expectation of “Straight  A’s” all the time.

So let me tell you this, if you struggle with the dieting-binge eating-repeat cycle, there is nothing wrong with you.  You just need a better understanding of yourself and your biology.