Archive for the ‘Health / Wellbeing’ Category
As a life coach, I have to keep a strong belief in the power of coaching even when those who come for coaching seem impossible to help at first. Recently, I had to question my belief when a new client came to me that made me doubt my ability to help her. After years of working with people and helping them see the amazing power of the mind, when Millie came, I had some doubts.
Millie was referred to me by a friend. He said to me, “Ronit, Millie needs to come and see you urgently”. So we scheduled a session and to my coaching deck came a gentle, beautiful 40-year-old woman with spots all over her face.
The more she told me about the problem, the more I doubted about my ability to help her. How on Earth can I help a woman with a 35-year-old skin problem? I am not a dermatologist. I panicked a bit and talked to myself, “Come on, Ronit, you’ve helped people who had taken antidepressants for 24 years, you’ve helped people who had used drugs, you’ve helped sick people. You can do this”. One side of me said, “You can do it”, while the other asked, “How?”
I had no answer.
Creativity and self-expression are wonderful ways to recover from an eating disorder. Not eating and overeating are ways to control your life. Creativity happens when there is full control and can even be a form of meditation.
When I was young, I had many throat infections. My mom’s solution was always to take me to the doctor and give me antibiotics. This was a major part of my life for about 10 years. I took antibiotics about 6 months every year as a kid. It freaks me out to think about it now. When I grew up and learned more about the connection between physical problems and emotional states, I discovered that my throat infections could have been a result of being unable to express myself. Funnily enough, when I started writing at the age of 14, they disappeared.
I also learned that self-expression can be a cure, so since then, whenever my throat starts playing up and I have that familiar dry tingle threatening to flare, I sing! I turn the music on at full volume, or do it in the car, and sing! It does magic. One day and the infection is gone.
Using art for self-expression is a wonderful way to regain control over your life. You are on your own, creating what is in your mind. No criticism, no expected outcomes, just you and your creative flow, so you can feel how your body obeys your commands.
In any creative form, there is a sense of freedom that anorexic people desperately need. They have the freedom to try new things, the freedom to make mistakes, the freedom to express themselves, the freedom from rules and boundaries – basically, the freedom to be themselves.
Also, immersing ourselves in creative art can work as a great distraction from thinking about the emotional challenges that take over otherwise. Anorexic people continually think about their “distorted body”, about food and about their problems. Keeping busy and doing something creative is like putting a sign on the door saying “time out” from thinking and hopefully those thoughts will never come back.
People are different and find different forms of self-expression, but all of them are wonderful and can help in healing and recovering from anorexia or other eating disorders.
Women with Anorexia have issues with their body image and a feeling of helplessness and inability to control their life. The combination of these challenges makes them seek control in any way and not eating seems to them a great way to gain control.
Society around us obviously contributes a lot to the negative body image and self image girls have during childhood, through their teenage years and later on into adulthood. The image of an anorexic teen girl can be misleading. There are also many women are anorexic who need help.
One way of healing is learning to love your body.
Loving your body is giving yourself the permission to feel good physically and it must be done slowly, with love and with patience. If you are a parent or someone who wants to help an anorexic person, just saying, “You need to love your body”, will not make the required difference.
The best idea is to help the anorexic person search for good things – positive thoughts, encouragements, small bits of progress and every little achievement – to help change their perception of their life’s reality.
My dad was a smoker. He was a heavy smoker, consuming 1-2 packs of cigarettes a day. I remember my older sister having many fights with him over this. She complained, he tried to quit for couple of days and then went back to smoking. I did not have an opinion about it. All the men I knew smoked. It seemed natural to me. My mom was a very silent complainer. She never smoked but could not change his mind. In some cultures, smoking is much more acceptable and is a status symbol. It was a manly thing to do.
One day, my dad discovered that my brother, who was 14 years old then, stole his cigarettes and smoked with his friends. My dad was furious and started screaming at him. I was about 11 and I remember us standing there and accepting that my brother did the wrong thing. But then, while he was screaming his head off, my older sister, who was 15 years old at the time, said to my dad, “How can you tell him he can’t smoke and it’s not good for him if you smoke so much yourself?!” (I always admired her guts). The amazing thing was that he stopped screaming and walked furiously out of the house. It was the last day he ever smoked. Unfortunately, my brother still smokes today, even after he had a heart attack at the age of 45.
Parents who smoke hurt their kids, not only by making them passive smokers, but also by setting an example that they can never take back. Do you know how many times since then I have heard my dad asking my brother to stop smoking? Thousands. Unfortunately, he was too late.
In some cultures, smoking is very acceptable and is even a status symbol, “the manly/cool thing to do”. A few years ago, we went to visit my family and my uncles were there, all of them smokers. One of my uncles asked Gal, “Would you like a cigarette?” Gal said, “No, thank you. I don’t smoke”. Then, he asked, “Would you like a beer?” and Gal said “No, thank you. I don’t drink beer”. My uncle looked down at him and said, “You don’t smoke and don’t drink. What kind of a man are you?”
Anorexia is a very debilitating disease. While it looks like there is a physical problem, the real problem is the one we cannot see with our eyes but the one we can see with our heart. As hard as it is to accept, choosing not to eat is a way to deal with difficult emotions.
Most eating disorders are the same. Eating (too much) or not eating (at all) is the solution to worry, to fear, to shame, to confusion, to failure and to guilt, and gradually, the simplest strategy seems to be to shut down the desire for food.
I do not know if you have ever fasted for fun, for health or for weight loss. There is a point when you no longer feel hungry at all. I think it is important for people to feel this point to understand that we can eat or not eat at will. To survive, we really do not need much food, so someone who chooses not to eat, really does not feel hungry, but still has those emotions that he or she tries to keep away. If you want to help a person who has anorexia, remember that focusing on the food is (again) working on the symptom and not the problem.
The best solution to anorexia is increasing the emotional intelligence. The first step is to recognize the feelings and the second step is to manage the feelings.
Today, I will focus on tips to mange worrying.
People with eating disorders like anorexia often have an exaggerated perception of life. It is as if they see the world through huge magnifying glasses and things that seem minor to others seem huge and overwhelming to them.
If you have anorexia or any other eating disorder, or if you have a child that has it and you want to help, it is important to focus on the thoughts and the mindset and not on the food. Not eating is not the problem. It is the solution that people with a distorted perception find for their problems.
Avoid trying to convince them to eat. It only makes things worse. Anorexic people need control, not a nagger.
Avoid punishing a child who has anorexia. It only increases their helplessness and their desire to control something (ANYTHING) in their life, like what they eat, when they eat and how much they eat.
Generally, anorexic people have a very bad self-image, considering self as useless, not worthy, a failure, stupid, an idiot, etc, and they use every little thing that happens in their life to reinforce it. They use their glasses to look for proof they are worthless and they do not consider single events as temporary or coincidental, but as part of their identity.
Here is a list of thoughts that make big things out of small things and demonstrates the effect of the huge magnifying glasses anorexic people wear. Each one you get rid of will reduce the magnifying effect.
This week, I went for a ladies’ night out with some friends and we talked about plastic surgery. Most of them were very surprised when I said it was a great idea. They looked at me surprised and said, “Ronit, you?! You are the ‘be happy in life’ person. You believe we need to be happy with ourselves. How can you live with such a contradiction?”
Well, the truth is that I do not see any contradiction at all between having plastic surgery and being happy. But I have to say I did not always think like that.
When I was 16, my best friend wanted to have plastic surgery. When I heard that, I used the same old techniques (those my parents always used) to tell her that “people who are happy with themselves just accept themselves the way they are” and this is when I had a great opportunity to be challenged.
Rene and I became friends about a year after her dad died. She was the youngest in her family and did not cope very well with his death. She asked to go to a boarding school, but that did not work, so she came back to our school in 10th Grade. Rene had the most beautiful skin and lips, but her nose was huge. When I say “huge”, I mean it was so wide, big and lumpy, you could think she had a tumor in it and she hated it.
At one stage, she asked her family to take her to see a plastic surgeon. He told her she was too young to have plastic surgery, so she had to wait, but the more she waited, the worse she felt. Do not get me wrong, she was smart, a good student and had good friends. She just hated her nose.
We talked about it for months and Rene helped me realize I was pumped with thoughts and ideas without really questioning them. We talked about happiness and wanting to change things in your life and in your body. She helped me realize that our life is dedicated to searching for things that will make us happy, yet some things are considered good and others are not, although they serve the same purpose.
What do you think?
Gail asked for a relationship coaching session, but said she would come by herself. “My husband won’t come”, she said. No matter what I asked her, her answer was related to the fact her husband was depressed and was unwilling to help himself. He had lost his job years before and that had sucked the life out of him. For 5 years, he had been sucking the life out of Gail and her two wonderful boys.
Having a depressed family member is not easy to handle. Most of the time, the depressed person cannot admit he or she needs help and rejects any help attempt. Those around them feel helpless and drained.
Gail was very creative in her attempts to help her husband. She went to the doctor and talked to him. She tried to make him go to the doctor, without success. She got him some vitamins and he refused to take them. She arranged holidays to make him happy, but he stayed depress.
Eventually, after 5 years of trying, Gail left home.
When we moved to Australia, I was shocked to discover that many people were sick. At school, it was hard to find a day when all kids were there. At Gal’s work, out of 7 people working in the office, 2 or 3 were missing every day, because they were sick.
At first, I thought Australians were just sick more often than others in the world, but after a short time, I came to the conclusion they were taking a day off when they were tired, sneezed too much, had some errands to run or just needed a day off.
As a parent, that freaked me out. I could take myself one or two years into the future and imagine my own children substitute “Mom, I want some time off” with “Mom, I’m sick”. I believe that if you say you are sick enough times, you will convince your body that you are and then you will actually feel sick. Gal and I put a lot of effort and thinking into raising healthy kids and the thought of them being “sick” every time they needed to rest made me feel sick ;P
I fully understand that people need some a break from time to time and the regular days off on weekends and public holidays are good, but they do not always come at the right time or provide enough relief. It makes sense to me that kids do not plan to need time off exactly on those days, so it is just natural that they want time off on a school day.
The problem with “being sick” is that you cannot really enjoy the day and rejuvenate, which defeats the purpose of taking a day off. Taking these needs into consideration, I came up with a solution that has been working for me for over 12 years.
Matt was a troublemaker. He disturbed the class, made lots of noises and fought with the other kids in class. It was unbearable. His teacher tried different methods to stop this behavior, but nothing helped, so he invited Matt’s presents for a talk.
Matt’s parents came to see the teacher and he told them about his failed attempts to calm him down and keep the order in class.
“I’ve tried everything I could and exhausted my options”, said the teacher and asked Matt’s parents about his behavior at home.
Matt’s dad said, “We’ve tried everything ourselves. We punish him, we bribe him, but nothing helps”.
“Have you tried diagnosing him?” asked the teacher.
“I don’t believe in diagnosing. It won’t help. It’s not practical,” said Matt’s mom.
“Well, how about giving him Ritalin?” suggested the teacher, “It will calm him down”.
“Where do we get Ritalin?” Matt’s dad asked.
“Oh, don’t worry, I’ll arrange this for you. Matt will take one tablet every day before he comes to school and everything will be OK”, said the teacher.
“Well, that won’t work”, said Matt’s mom, “Our mornings are very hectic. My husband leaves home early and I rush the kids to school. Who’s going to make sure he takes his tablet?”
“OK, then I can help you with this”, said the teacher, “I will give him the tablet myself when he gets to school”.