Dear Slender Seekers,
As a woman effected by obesity there was a time when material things held more value to me than emotional things and everything I wanted and needed was wrapped up in my Christmas or Birthday list.
Wants versus needs. For a long time it was hard for me to understand the difference. Anything I wanted I felt like I needed and I didn’t really have any priorities. Everything fell into the “I want it, I want it right now, I need it right now, “category.
After losing weight, this became even worse for me. It was very easy for me to justify what I wanted based on whether or not I deserved it, not whether or not I could afford it. If there was still room on a credit card and I thought I needed it for something, then of course I deserved it and I should have it. After all rebuilding a wardrobe after losing 260 lbs. is no small feat and after losing that sort of weight you want to look good, real good, in what you are wearing.
Over the course of the last several years this changed for me. It’s wasn’t an overnight change, but life situations taught me different lessons. Losing my Father and dealing with two monumental people in my life being hoarders started that ball rolling. Then finding myself on the brink of bankruptcy and really having to re-define need verses want helped put this all in perspective for me.
But the biggest change for me was when I realized that what I needed most was to feel wanted.
The moment that we realize this, we can go back and look at our other behavior and see the clear path that it was leading too. Everything I wanted and needed before were material things that in my thought process might make me more desirable to those looking at me and therefore, make me feel more wanted.
As a Wellness Coach, when I have a client that struggles with attention seeking behavior or struggles with the realization that feeling wanted is where their smaller obstacles stem from I do an exercise with them to help them visualize the pattern in their life. Very rarely to we actually recognize the emotions involved in the behavior we are exhibiting and if we can stop and pin point the source of the behavior we can often start to find solutions to the obstacles that the behavior is creating for us.
I call this exercise; Emotional Rewind and I ask my clients to start with the first physical relationship they had and then move forward, listing how each one made them feel. When I did mine it looked something like this…
- Relationship 1: A dirty secret, something he didn’t want his friends to know about.
- Relationship 2: Wanted, Attractive, Appreciated, young and crazy.
- Relationship 4: Wanted, Attractive, Appreciated, Curious
- Relationship 5: Abused, Unwanted, Unattractive, Used
- Relationship 6: Abused, Unwanted, Unattractive, Used
- Relationship 7: Unwanted, Unattractive – then Wanted, Attractive, Appreciated – then Unwanted, Neglected, Emotionally Abused
- Relationship 8: Wanted, Pretty, Attractive, Sexy, Appreciated – then Unwanted, Neglected, Emotionally abused.
When I wrote this down and I looked at it, what amazed me most were how these relationships and my feelings paralleled my struggle with obesity. In every relationship where I said I felt unwanted, unattractive and abused, I was at points in my life where my weight was the highest it had ever been at that give time and the person I was with, had usually in some form or another expressed something that made me feel unwanted and unattractive that I carried with me instead of talking out and working through.
From that first boy in high school that didn’t want his friends to know he was sleeping with the resident “fat girl” when I looked at my “emotional rewind” it was very clear to me that I have always sought emotional fulfillment, love, and being wanted through my physical relationships with people and that when that physicality was lacking, I internalized it into very negative feelings. The moment I started to feel “unwanted” all these words like: Unattractive, Neglected, Abused and Unappreciated are instantly triggered in my emotional thought process and once we are in that negative mind frame it’s very hard to break out of it.
This negative mind fame can lead us to all sorts of very bad places. Ask yourself for a moment.
Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and thought “What is wrong with me? Why doesn’t he want me?”
Have you ever found yourself asking, “Why isn’t he more affectionate with me?”
Have you ever blamed the lack of attention you are receiving on your weight, the excess skin you’re dealing with after the weight loss?
I can empathize with all of those thoughts. When these feelings flare up, what do you do? Let’s play a little game for a moment; I call it “Emotional Feud.” It reminds me of that game show, Family Feud, where they tell you a question they asked a hundred people and you try to come up with the top answers.
“What do women do when they feel unwanted?”
- Buy New Clothes
- Snoop Through Personal Items
- Drugs & Alcohol
- Emotional or Physical Self-Mutilation
- Have Affairs
Those would have been my top 8 answers. All of which, when coming from a negative place promote more negative feelings and inner struggles. When this happens a cycle begins where we spend more time addressing the symptoms of the problem rather addressing the source of the behavior.
What can we do to stop it? Rewind, Re-assess and Re-frame! That’s right, go back to the Emotional Rewind you just did and the Emotional Feud you just had and re-frame it. Find the positive things that you can do to address the problem rather than the old negatives that were your original answers. For example;
“What can I do when I feel unwanted?”
- Write it out
- Make a cup of tea
- Read a Book
- Do something that makes me feel pretty
- Take a Bubble Bath
- Call a Friend
- Communicate my feelings
When we talk about emotional wellness and healthy lifestyle changes, one of the biggest obstacles we have is recognizing when the behaviors we are exhibiting is unhealthy. Recognition is the first step to recovery though, and if we can recognizing when those unhealthy behaviors have started creeping in, we can move forward and figure out how to recover from it before it leads us to really negative places. We can do this by rewinding and finding what the real source is. Once we have done that we can reassess the situation and attempt to re-frame in a way that is healthier for our emotional well-being.