February 24, 2012

Afraid I will explode

Dear Dr Fishman

Thank you so much for this website. I have a long history of swinging between bulimia and compulsive over-eating. I am currently a compulsive over-eater.

I have been using your scorecard and I have been trying to address the conflicts in my life as you suggest. I have found it very valuable.

However, one issue that I have is that I always feel afraid when I do try to address the conflicts. I always feel that I will hurt somebody, or that, not so much that they will explode, but that I will explode.

What do you suggest?

Mary

One Response to “Afraid I will explode”

  1. Caroline says:

    Dear Mary

    Thank you for your letter. It is great to hear how our members are getting along and what they are finding useful, and what they are still having difficulties with.

    We are glad that you are finding the worksheet a useful tool in getting over your eating difficulties.

    You are not alone in your fear of hurting other people b y addressing conflicts and difficulties with them. In fact, many people have this same problem, and it is difficult and a little bit scary when you first start to address these issues. However, it gets easier the more you do it, and you begin to realize that by addressing problems in the relationship it is not only you that benefits – it is the other person as well.

    While we don’t know you personally, here are some suggestions for dealing with these feelings of guilt that people often find useful:

    Gain perspective:
    Confronting someone about difficulties that you have with them will not cause a major storm in the relationship. If they care about you, and if you address the conflict in calm and confident manner, they will respond accordingly, and together you can work through the problem. The relationship, rather than suffering from your assertiveness, will in fact improve. Importantly, so will the symptoms of your eating disorder.

    Practice addressing conflicts:
    Practice what you want to say so that you can feel confident about the words that will get your message across in the most effective way without attacking the other person. Be calm and gentle but firm in your delivery. Remember, you have the right to say what is bothering you.

    Get support:
    Dealing with conflict is not easy and doing it alone can make it even more difficult. This is why we recommend getting a “text buddy”. This is someone who will support you before, during and after you have addressed the conflict.

    Nurture yourself – remember, you are important too:
    While it is a great strength to be nurturing and loving to others, we must also take care of ourselves. This is not selfish, but rather enables us to have the resources to care for other people better. If we allow ourselves to become too run down, or over come with an eating disorder, we are not really helping anyone. This can also inadvertently hurt the people around us. By dealing with the underlying conflicts that are excerbating the eating disorder, we change the system for the better, building it and ourselves up so that it is stronger than before – without the cracks caused by the conflict. Nurture yourself first, address the conflict, and then you will see real and lasting improvements in your life and the lives of those around you.

    Are your feelings of guilt helpful to yourself or others?
    Women are often consumed by guilt. This can be for many reasons and can be hard to break free of. The distress caused by the guilt can increase when thinking about changing the patterns in the relationships, even when change is what is needed for one’s own health and well-being.

    What needs to be considered is the usefulness of the guilty feelings – are they really telling us that something is wrong that we need to correct, or are they over-thought feelings that are holding us back from being free and in control of our own lives. Usually, the feelings of guilt are not really valid, as don’t relate to situations that we have done wrong and need to correct. When the guilty feelings are useless they need to be broken down and we need to learn to put ourselves first. Again, this is not a selfish choice as when we put ourselves first and become healthy and happy, we are then better able to care for and be responsive to other important people in our lives.

    What makes this complex is the conflict between who women are—we are born nurturers and our own needs. This often leads to fear of conflict and upset that might emerge. We don’t want the upset leading not only to what others will do but what we might do. We feel best when we are taking care of people.

    As in the Nike adds, “just try it.” Step by step, start with smaller issues, brings up things, hold your ground. For the good of not just you, but you will find, for the good of everyone you care about.

    We hope that you find these points useful. Please let us know how you are going and if there is any other support that we can give you.

    Our best to you,
    Caroline

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