psychology

How to Raise Your Self Worth

raise your self worthWhen we were in our very early 20’s, my friend Catherine and I were working together as tech journalists in Silicon Valley. It was the first tech boom, we were recently out of college and people around us had lots and lots of money. People who were 24 years old were worth many millions of dollars, but we, two grammar geeks who worked as reporters for an online dot com journal were worth much, much less. At least on paper.

One day, while we were working together on an article about the Diamond Rio Mp3 player (you could listen to 14 songs straight! No tape! No CD!)  Catherine, who had been the valedictorian at both her high school and her college just broke down crying. As I said, we were in our early 20’s and breaking down crying at work at that age is socially acceptable as it’s always okay to have an existential crisis. I asked her why she was crying and she said, “I have no idea what I’m worth.”
“What does that mean?” I asked her.
“Well, I used to know exactly what I was worth. Somewhere between 4.2 and 4.4. But now, I’m not graded on life and I only make $2,000 a month. So what am I worth? How will I know? How will I know how I’m doing in life without grades?”
“I think,” I told her, “I think we’re supposed to know how we’re doing by how happy we are, I think we’re supposed to let our happiness be a barometer of how things are going.”
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” she said.

And I guess that’s the thing. I guess that we all start out being graded and we just keep going with it. We let numbers dictate how we feel.  Whether it’s the number on the scale, the size of our jeans, the amount of calories or carbs we ate, the size of our paychecks, the number of men or women we’ve slept with, the square footage of our house, the cost of our car, the number of carats in our engagement rings, what kinds of grades our kids our getting, how fast our most recent marathon time is…

After healing from my food and body image issues, I had really felt that I stopped allowing numbers to dictate my life. But I realized that I hadn’t. A few weeks ago, I checked my amazon stats to see how my book was selling. For whatever reason, it happened to be a bad week for book sales.  I was crushed. I started to tie up my self-worth to my book sales, thinking that not only did my book suck, but I sucked. I really let myself get down in the dumps about information totally unrelated to who I was as a person, how I lived my life and what my values were. Later that evening, I got a beautiful email from a reader telling me that my book had changed her life. And then I remembered. I remembered that I wasn’t about sales or numbers or stats, I was a person. And that I do what I do because I care about other people. But I’d forgotten and I’d tied up my self-worth to silly things like book sales and blog stats. Then I realized the irony of it. I tell people all the time that their self-worth is not tied to some arbitrary number on a machine based on nothing and yet, I allowed my own self-worth to be tied up in that. It was a huge reality check for me.  So I asked myself a few questions.

1. What are your values?
2. Are you living up to your values?
3. What more could you be doing to be more of who you want to be?

I remembered that my values were about my husband, my children, my family and helping people, and that numbers had nothing to do with any of this. I remembered that I was living up to my values and that I didn’t need to be graded on this and I remembered that I wanted to do more of this. So I chose to stop looking at my book stats unless my kids were asleep and to make sure that my time with my kids was valuable and loving. That felt good and it felt right and it helped me to get out of the slump of numbers.

Your self worth is also not tied up in numbers.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. What are your values? Name the most important values in your life.

2. Where do you find your value?

3. What do you value in others? What makes others worthy and valuable in your mind.

4. Where do you find your worth?

5. What are things that you do or can do every day to help you feel your true and authentic value?

Write them down and answer them one by one, thoughtfully. Then, each day, ask yourself, “How am I being true to myself? How am I living in alignment with my value system? How am I being who I want to be? What can I do to be more in line with my authentic self? What is the one thing I can do today to help me really be me, the one thing that it is not number based….” Then do that thing, even if it is as simple as calling your Grandma, or hugging your kids or picking up a piece of litter in the street. When you define your intrinsic values and live according to them, you begin to really feel your self worth and you also let go of jealousy and trying to measure up. Try it!

Dealing with Jealousy and Comparative Thinking

jealousy and eating disordersI’ve always prided myself on being completely free of jealousy. I believed that everyone had their own path and their own dharma… she had hers and he had his and I had mine.

In fact, I spent so much time with my clients helping them not to make comparisons of their bodies and their hair and their dating lives or lack thereof to their friends and I felt completely immune to jealousy and envy. I didn’t think I had a jealous bone in my body. 

And then something snapped inside of me. 

Sometime in the last two years I’ve become a total jealous woman. And I’ve had to work on that a lot. 

You see, my Mom passed away 12 years ago, and my stepmom of 32 years passed away almost two years ago. And I live with my husband and my kids without very much extended family at all. With no one to help us unless we pay them, no one who is totally obsessed with my kids like the way a Grandma would be, no one to spoil them, no one to go to Holiday dinners with, etc. I’ve been in a really bad place about it for months. 

Jealousy broken down into its core components are anger at someone because you believe that they are stealing something from you. 

And my jealousy became rampant. When I saw my friends or my cousins kids with their grandparents on Facebook I’d have to close my computer. When I saw grandparents picking up their grandchildren from pre-school I would feel sad. I was jealous and I was angry.

I was jealous of other girls’ mothers. 

And so I’ve had to work on that quite a bit. And I’ve begun to embrace my grieving process as grieving two very difficult losses. However… the work that I’m doing made me realize that my losses don’t take away from what I have. That the more I focus on what I don’t have, the less I focus on what I do have. And what I have brings me joy. Focusing on what I don’t have and being angry about it brings me grief. 

If my mother were to come down from heaven she would say to me, “What you think you’re the first person to ever lose her mother? Get on with your life already!” Because that’s how my Mom was. And she would be right. 

And the truth is… the jealousy has been keeping me back. It has been keeping me from going forward and finding comfort, support and love in other people.  So I am going forward. I am allowing my grief to be grief and I am moving into acceptance of what my life is and finding surrogate moms in all the wonderful women around me. 

Jealousy closes you off to other people. Jealousy makes you extremely depressed.  Jealousy keeps you in a jail of your own because you are angry at the world. Jealousy doesn’t allow you to see that their are other people in your situation and in much worse situations. Jealousy doesn’t allow you to see what you truly have and what you could be grateful for. Jealousy keeps you stuck– when you could just go outside into the vast big beautiful world and see the sky and the clouds and the mountains and the ocean. 

So is there anything or anybody that you are jealous of? 

Are you jealous of someone’s money? Their body? Their girlfriend or boyfriend or husband or wife? Their house? Their car? How does that hold you back? Do you wind up trying to achieve so much of what other people have that you miss out on your own life? Do you isolate yourself because you can’t bear to see other people having what you want? 

You can change that. 

 

You can stop this. 

When you notice your head turned toward someone else’s haves – turn back toward your own and appreciate what you have.

Or you could also forget about what that person has and just look at them as a whole person and let yourself be their friend, learn about them separate from what they have. You will deepen and enrich your friendships and find yourself more integrated into the world. 

Jealousy doesn’t serve you and it doesn’t motivate you, it keeps you stuck. 

And here is an old post on jealousy that I wrote before the Green Eyed Monster bit me. Before I lost my Step Mom and before I had my kids. I had a great theoretically knowledge of jealousy. But now I know in my bones what it is. Working through it has been phenomenal and eye opening.

I am grateful that I am given the gift of working through my issues just when I think I’m soooooo damn perfect. 

Only Rich White Girls Get Eating Disorders

The road to recovery leads to beautyI tend to shy away from talking about what I do for a living when meeting someone in social situations like at parties or on an airplane. The phrase “I am a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders,” is met with either awkward silence, or uncomfortable reactions such as, “I wish I had an eating disorder, but I could never stop eating…” or someone telling me in detail about their friend/college roommate/friend’s daughter’s eating disorder… or other conversations that are potentially difficult to get into at a party. But this week, at a Holiday Party, when I told someone what I did, he responded, “Oh so you talk to selfish snotty rich white girls all day long…”  Ugh. I sat for a moment to think about whether or not I would be willing to continue my conversation and decided against it. I said to him, “that’s actually really not accurate…”  and excused myself.

But I began to think about that stereotype, that eating disorders only touched a certain demographic. And the truth is that eating disorders transcend race, age and gender.  Unfortunately though, the stereotype remains for a variety of reasons. First off, because of the stereotype, men and women who do have eating disorders who don’t fall into the category or white, young, female, or rich might have trouble identifying that they have an eating disorder. They might also feel that it’s not okay for them to go to treatment because they won’t fit in or because they are not the typical patients.

But lots and lots of people suffer with eating disorders. Because we believe that our bodies are our external manifestation of what is going on inside, that our bodies tell the world who we are. And for some dumb reason, society has decided that what makes us good is being skinny. And so when someone feels bad or insecure about him or herself, he or she tries to change their body, and usually to make it smaller, because they believe that they will then be worthy or be treated better or be allowed to go out into the world. And often this plan backfires. They diet and diet and diet and disordered eating ensues. And then they cease to be out in the world. They stop doing what they were meant to be doing. They don’t dance or sing or preach or write poetry or teach aerobics or teach literature or go to Africa or go to medical school because they feel that they are not good enough. They feel that they don’t belong. They feel that they can only participate in the world once they lose the weight that they need to lose. And then the world misses out on them. The world misses out on all those amazing men and women out there because they don’t think they are good enough. They become embroiled in a power struggle with their jeans, with their diet plan, their treadmill and with food and don’t leave that cage.  And we miss out on them. We miss all the joy and learning they could have brought. We miss the gifts that they were meant to share. We miss the fun we could have had with them. We miss the smiles on our children’s faces for being around them. We miss out on all that.

And that is why I treat eating disorders. Because the world should be a better place and you should be in the world. I want to help you get out of the cage of despair and into the world of joy, life, expansion and happiness. Who knows, you could cure cancer! You could make peace in the Middle East. You could save a child from a burning building. Or you could simply go swimming with the dolphins in Hawaii and have fun because it’s okay for you to be in a bathing suit. It’s okay for you to be out in the world.

Happy Holidays to you.

Have a Safe and Wonderful Holiday.

Dealing with Deeply Ingrained Beliefs

why do i feel so worthless

I was talking to one of my long-term clients yesterday who is just SO. DAMN. TIRED. And she feels like the only thing she can do is stand in front of her refrigerator and binge eat. Of course she is tired, she has a part-time job in the healthcare field and she has a 6-month old baby at home. In discussing ways that she can delegate and get some rest sometimes, what came out is that she is afraid to delegate. She doesn’t want anyone holding her baby, doing her charting, washing the dishes, cleaning her house, anything else. Why? Not because she has control issues, but because she wants to be seen as indispensable. She is afraid that if she were not “pulling her weight” and being the best she could be, that she would be replaced. That she would be fired and replaced at work, that she would be left and replaced by her partner and that she would be rejected and replaced by her baby.  Meanwhile she’s in so much physical pain that she can’t walk and she’s so stressed out that she finds herself bingeing constantly. It’s not rational, right? Obviously her baby isn’t going to find a new Mommy if she lets someone hold him and rock him while she takes a bath. Obviously her partner is not going to leave her if the house isn’t perfectly clean. Obviously as a top provider in her field, she’s not going to be fired if she takes a lunch break.  But core wounds are not rational. This woman’s Dad left her and her Mom, and replaced them with a new family. He did that again to his new family, and he did that one more time. So, somewhere in her brain she felt that she was easily replaced. Clearly this was her Dad’s issue, he was the problem- he was nomadic, didn’t know how to stay put, didn’t know how to be close to those who loved him. But it’s incredible how one person’s problems set off a chain reaction, isn’t it? Even though him being a chronic abandoner had nothing to do with her, in her little girl brain, she believed that it was her fault which somehow made her into a hyperfunctioning adult who has a million balls in the air and never allows one to drop. To the detriment of everything inside her. And obviously this takes a toll not just on herself but on those around her. No one wants a stressed out Mama or wife. Even though she felt like getting a massage would be selfish and taking care of herself and delegating responsibility to others  would be selfish and risky, she has come to understand that it’s not true. It’s her core wound that is telling her that. In reality, if she were to have some self-care rituals, she might alleviate the stress and have more ease to her life. The people around her might also feel more ease. 

So what about you? What core issues do you have that are keeping you from living your life in a more comfortable way? What is your “original myth?” Hers was “I am replaceable…”  
or “I have to be better than everybody else so that I’m not abandoned…” Other original myths I’ve heard are:
“Who I am is not loveable, so I always have to do more. I can’t be a human being, I have to be a human doing…” or
“I am worthless…”
“I don’t have the kind of money that other people have and never will…” 
“No one will ever love me…”
“I am too needy…”
“I am too much for people…”


What we have to remember is that these original myths were formed when we were children because of something that was going on around us that had nothing to do with us. But as children, we can’t step outside ourselves and analyze our world. We see everything as an extension of ourselves and then the stories become ingrained. 

Questions to ask yourself:

“What around me stressful when I was a child?” 
“Who was anxious?”
“Who was angry?” 
“Who said or did hurtful things?” 
“How did that stay with me?”
“How did that create my original myth?”
“How is this still with me?”
“How can I remind myself that it’s not real?”

As you ask yourself these questions, you might come to find that you are able to loosen your grip on certain behaviors that keep you tired and stressed out. 

5 Simple Rules for Dealing With Hurt Feelings

keeping your side of the street cleanLast night, I was talking to Sarah, a client of mine who was filled with anger, rage and hurt because she felt that a friend had totally betrayed her. Sarah had told her best friend Angela about a job that she was going to apply to and then, without telling Sarah, Angela went ahead,  sent her resume in, was called in for an interview the next day and offered the position on the spot. All before Sarah had even had the chance to apply.  Angela called her Monday to tell her about the new job. Sarah was shocked, “wait, I was applying to that same job! I told you that.”

“Well,” said Angela, “when you told me about the job, I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring,”

“But you stole that job right out from under me!” Sarah said.

“You didn’t even apply,” Angela said, “If I hadn’t gotten it, someone else would have, it was never yours, I couldn’t have stolen it!”

Sarah was absolutely devastated. She’s not spoken to Angela, her bestie,  all week, and she’s been bingeing pretty much every day since she got the news. So what happened there?

I’m not going to go into who is right and who is wrong. I don’t have an opinion about that one way or another. Life is life and things happen. But what happens when something that someone does totally hurts your feelings or has you feeling betrayed? What is an appropriate way to behave?

Let’s look at what happened to Sarah. She was hurt by what Angela did. And she took personal offense to it, feeling as though it was something that Angela did to her.

Rule #1. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.  This was not personal. Angela did not set out to intentionally hurt Sarah. This was something that Angela did without thinking about Sarah at all. It was completely about herself.  But, playing devil’s advocate, what if Angela did want to hurt Sarah’s feelings?  Maybe she did. Maybe she wanted to hurt Sarah by taking the job that Sarah wanted. However, that’s still not personal. If Angela did in fact want to hurt Sarah’s feelings, that’s still not about Sarah. That’s about Angela needing to feel better about herself by doing something to sabotage her best friend.

Sarah then sat there and ruminated about how she’ll never have a good job and how she’s a failure and how she was so irresponsible and how could she have totally blown her chance, why was she so lazy. 

Rule #2. DON’T BLAME YOURSELF.  Sarah’s response was to victimize herself. So she coined Angela as the perpetrator and then turned around and perpetrated herself. She became both the victim and the perpetrator. She became so stuck in this that she was numb and couldn’t take any action to move forward.

Sarah spent the next several days bingeing and even doing some purging after she found out. 

Rule #3. DON’T HURT YOURSELF.  Often, people wind up hurting themselves when they really want to hurt someone else. They will act out in self harming behaviors such as bingeing, cutting, binge drinking, drug using, smoking cigarettes or other self destructive behaviors because someone else hurt them. Just because you were hurt by someone else doesn’t mean you need to hurt yourself. It’s not okay. 

She was also telling anyone who would listen what a sneaky bitch Angela was to go behind her back. 

Rule #4. KEEP YOUR SIDE OF THE STREET CLEAN.  In AA, the motto keeping your side of the street clean means to hold yourself with respect when someone does something that hurts you. Don’t try to hurt them back, don’t try to sully their name and by all means, don’t hurt yourself.  You make your side of the street dirty when you try to retaliate or when you go around saying nasty things to lots of people about the other person. There is no reason to become a toxic person yourself. The best thing that you can do is begin to pay closer attention to yourself, be kind to you, be kind to the people around you, be the kind of person you respect, surround yourself with loving, kind friends and talk to someone who you love and trust about your hurt feelings (mom, husband, sister, brother, therapist). But it should be about you and how you were hurt.

Ultimately, as we talked, Sarah realized that the pain was more about feeling as though she didn’t know how to step up to the plate and get things done and how Angela’s ability to easily send in a resume and get a job illuminated Sarah’s shortcomings to her and made her feel bad about herself. 

Rule #5. IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM EITHER

Don’t make it about the other person, because just like their act wasn’t about you, your feelings aren’t about them. And you shouldn’t give them that space, this is about you healing your own wounds. Often when someone does something that hurts you, you get hurt because old wounds are opened, not because of the actual event. So your hurt feelings are often an opportunity to heal some old wounds.

Is it Possible to Recover From Binge Eating Disorder on Your Own?

Overeaters Anonymous Support Groups

Overeaters Anonymous Support Groups

I received an email from a woman who is currently reading my book and she asked me the question, “do you think it’s possible to reach recovery on my own?”

It’s a really good question and one that I thought should be discussed in more depth on the blog. I know what the reader means by that, she means is it possible to stop binge eating without dealing with a therapist or a twelve step group, can I just read a book and recover. The simple answer is yes of course. In fact, when you read the rational recovery material, they discuss how every day, active alcoholics put down their drinks and make a choice never to drink again and they don’t. Many people who smoke cigarettes  quit cold turkey and never pick up the habit again. So yes, it’s certainly possible. In fact, one would argue that everyone recovers on their own- by their own will and with their own strength.

But you don’t have to. And that’s what you should know. Just because you can recover alone, doesn’t mean that you have to recover alone. Eating disorders thrive in isolation. You do your eating disorder all alone, so when you recover, it’s nice to get out of the shadows of the disorder and have someone their to hold your hand, support you and be there if you need extra support. My friend and colleague Nicole Laby (producer of Erasing Ed, which you should totally see if you can) always says, “eating disorders don’t form in a vacuum and so you shouldn’t have to recover in a vacuum.” What she means by that is that there are a million varying factors that come together to make an eating disorder. There is family, there is society, there are your friends at school, there are traumatic events, there are food manufacturers creating and marketing unhealthy substances that we seem to feel addicted to and use like drugs, all these things come together as a perfect little recipe for a dysfunctional relationship with food. Awesome. So because of this, it is often very comforting to have people around you who are on your side instead of on the eating disorder’s side. These are folks who understand what you are going through and who have been there themselves and want to help you and need support too.

I wrote Reclaiming Yourself to be like a pocket therapist for people who didn’t have the means for psychotherapy. However, in the book, I do suggest finding your own support network, be it a best friend or an online network, or a group. It doesn’t need to be a 12 step group, it can be a group of people you form yourself to just give each other love and support around not bingeing.  When you recover all by yourself, you miss out on the accolades and the love that you get from other people who are supporting you. When you recover with support, if you should fall down, you always have someone there with an outreached arm to hold your hand and perhaps pull you up rather than you being left to climb up and out on your own.  That being said, there is more than one way to recover. You have to find your recovery style and choose what works for you.  I recommend trying several different things, 12 step groups, rational recovery groups (SMART recovery), online support groups, blogs, tumblrs, meditation and mindfulness groups,  whatever. There are a billion ways to find help. Or try it alone and see how it goes. You don’t have to make a decision and then stick to it, experiment and figure out what works for you.

What worked best in your recovery?

How to Raise Your Self Esteem

how to raise your self esteemI always explain to my clients that raising  or gaining your self esteem isn’t about harnessing some unknown force or creating something that doesn’t exist or gaining something new– rather than gaining something new, it’s about letting go of something old– old messages that tell you that you’re not okay, that you have to be better than you are, that there is something wrong with you. Self esteem is about being kind to yourself, accepting and loving yourself even if you’re not perfect. It’s about going toward greatness and allowing yourself to evolve, but loving yourself in that process. It’s about holding yourself with integrity to the best of your ability, always being kind, thoughtful, compassionate and loving to the people around you and to yourself.  So, when you hear the voices telling you that you’re not okay, telling those voices that there is no room for them or that you don’t have to engage with those thoughts as you strengthen those that serve you.

In 1994, Nathanial Branden wrote The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem which is considered the definitive work on Self-Esteem. Branden believes that to have self esteem, you need both self-efficacy and self- respect. Having self-efficacy is the knowledge that you have everything inside of you that you need to survive no matter what. Self-respect is being aligned with your values and knowing that because you are, you deserve to be loved, respected and cared for and to be happy no matter what.

When you have self-efficacy, you’re not afraid of being alone, you’re not afraid of being left because you know that you have everything that you need inside of you to survive. You have confidence in your own abilities to navigate life rather than fear of being in the world. When you have self respect, you know what your values are (for me they are always being kind and treating everyone around me with respect and compassion and consideration, not gossiping or spreading rumors, not judging or criticizing and living with integrity) and you do your best to live in alignment with those values. When you live a life aligned with your values, you feel better about yourself and being in the world.

Branden identifies six philosophies that he believes are integral to living with self esteem. They are: living consciously, being self accepting, taking responsibility for oneself, being assertive, living with purpose and holding strong personal integrity

Living Consciously  is about being aware of your body, being aware of your choices, your environment, being mindful or your choices, your enviornment, your bodily sensations, your thoughts, your actions and your fears.

Those who have eating disorders don’t live consciously. They either binge or starve themselves, they don’t honor their appetites, they hate their bodies because they believe that there is something wrong with them. They completely reject themselves.

Check out guided visualizations on eating mindfully and loving your body and letting go of negative body image.

Being Self Accepting: When you accept yourself, you stop trying to be someone else, you embrace your strengths. Rather than comparing what you don’t have to what other people do have, you celebrate and strengthen what you do have. Check out these great tips on being self accepting. 

Taking Responsibility for Yourself: This is about not blaming other people for choices you made. Understanding that you have power and that you are not stuck and that just because you made a bad choice, you are not stuck in it because you have the power to constantly be rethinking and recreating your life.

Being Self Assertive: When you are self assertive, you stand up for yourself. You always treat other people with respect and you do not allow other people to talk down to you or to treat you poorly. If you have a boss, for instance who is verbally abusing you or yelling at you, it’s okay to look at them and say, “it’s not okay to talk to me that way.” It’s about standing up for others who might not have the ability to voice their own needs.

Living with Purpose: 

When you live with purpose, you take care of yourself, but your main purpose in life isn’t about getting thin or getting pretty or making money or trying to impress or look good to other people. It’s about having goals that feel purposeful, meaningful to you.

Having Strong Personal Integrity: 

What is it to live with integrity? In my opinion, it’s to be as honest as you can without being hurtful. Being honest doesn’t mean telling someone that they look fat in their new dress or that they’re acting like a jerk. That’s not honest, that’s your subjective opinion. Being honest is more like telling someone that your feelings were hurt when they didn’t answer your phone calls or respond to your messages. Being honest is not stealing, not lying, not purposely saying things to hurt people, not spreading hurtful rumors, and not using other people to achieve your own means. It’s about being kind, being helpful, but also not sacrificing yourself or your own needs for the sake of others. Personal integrity is about knowing what your values are trying to live up to them. What are your values? When you identify your values and do your best to live up to them, you will always know that you are okay and you won’t have to worry about what other people think about you.

For more help on improving self esteem, check out some of Nathaniel Branden’s sentence completion exercises.

Try this guided meditation download to help you to let go of those old non-serving thoughts and bring in higher more function feelings about yourself.

31 Easy Ways to be Happy Right Now

how to be happy1. Practice kindness in every aspect of your life. While you’re driving,  wave someone through who is waiting to get out of a parking lot into the road. Give your leftovers to someone who is hungry.

2. Do simple things to make yourself feel nurtured. File and clean your nails– maybe even get a manicure or pedicure. Take a nap,  clean your sheets and make your bed, shower, wash and condition your hair, shave, and let yourself relax.

3. Face your finances and deal with your debt. Look at how much you owe and how much you have. Make a plan to pay off your debt. It will just make you feel better.

4. Take a long, quiet walk in nature. Being in nature is good for your mind, body and spirit. 

5. Sit down and drink a hot cup of tea. 

6. Rent a funny movie and laugh a lot. 

7. Smile at 10 random people. You will instantly feel bright and joyous and full of love when you infuse good into the world and it will integrate it into your own psyche.

8. If you don’t feel like smiling, force it.  The activation of the muscles used to create a smile actually decrease stress in increase feelings of well-being.

9. Express gratitude.  One of the great tragedies of our psyches is that it is so difficult to appreciate what we have one we are wanting more. It’s important  to want more, but the way to really find happiness is to appreciate and love and be grateful for what you have. Don’t let yourself believe that you’ll be happy when… Be happy now. Be grateful now. Don’t allow your happiness to be held hostage by future events that may or may not happen. Make a list, even in your mind, of all the things you’re grateful for.

10.  Try self-hypnosis to bring joy into your world. This works because your world is created  by the thoughts you think.

11. Spend time with your pet. Being around animals and caring for them make humans happier. 

12. Pray to whatever deity you believe in, even if it’s your own higher self.

13. Jump up and down for 60 seconds. Your endorphins will release and you will feel good!

14. Put music on and dance like crazy. Even if  you think you can’t dance, just dance. My toddler loves to shake his head back and forth to any rhythm and it makes him deliriously happy.

15. Talk to the dead. Just get into a quiet mood and begin talking either out loud or in your head to someone you miss. Having conversations in your head with people who have passed away can be incredibly healing.

16. Compliment someone. Tell someone how beautiful they are, or what a good job they’re doing or how much you appreciate them. It will bring joy to their world and make you happy too.

17. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time.

18. Drink a glass of water. Mild dehydration can cause a bad mood and pessimism.

19. Stretch your legs, roll your ankles, your wrists, roll your neck, get your body into a comfortable position. Stretching makes you happy!

20. Play in the dirt!  Gardening can make you feel happy. Mycobacterium, which occurs naturally in soil, has the same effect on your brain as anti-depressant medications.

21. Look at old pictures — for a bonus happiness boost, share them with someone you love.

22. Try to do a push up. If you cannot, try again the next day. Within a week, you’ll be able to do a pushup. Do this everyday and by the end of a month, you’ll be doing 5 push ups a day. After a year, you’ll be doing 50 pushups a day. You’ll feel super accomplished, not to mention strong.

23. Sing a song out loud.

24. Have only 20 seconds? Choose one. 

25. Hug someone. Human touch makes us calm, relaxed and peaceful.

26. Take a bath with epson salts. Magnesium relaxes your muscles and helps you have a sense of peacefulness making you happier.

27. Send wishes for the people around you to be happy, kind and compassionate.

28. Let go of people that make you unhappy. You can choose to let go with compassion of friends who feel toxic. It’s okay to do that.

29. Read the Alchemist. I read this book right after my Mom died and it changed my mood immeasurably. It’s an amazing mood lifting book.

30. Floss your teeth!

31. Take a nap. Being well rested is the best way to be happy. Get your sleep in order.

 

How about Sexy Einstein for Halloween This Year?

Halloween is challenging for people with eating issues for the obvious reasons- all the candy and partying everywhere. But there is also the fact that for many women, Halloween is a time to put on their sexiest outfits and throw on some horns and be a “sexy devil,” or a “sexy cat,” or a “sexy cop” or a “sexy cheerleader,” or a “dead hooker,” or a “slutty nun,” or something else provocative. My own personal belief is that Halloween is a great time for people to embrace their shadows, and have fun with their sexuality within the safe containment  of the holiday.  However, this can also be incredibly challenging for many women. It’s a time when some women feel more free with their bodies and displaying more skin and some women begin to compare themselves and feel badly about themselves. Although many women with food and body image issues tend to make unfair comparisons between  themselves and other women, Halloween can create a scenario where the comparative thinking is extremely magnified.

Here are some tips for dealing with the feelings that might come up around that Catholic schoolgirl.

  • Find a Halloween costume that you love and that is fun and you feel comfortable in.
  • If you notice that you are comparing yourself to someone else, tell yourself to stop immediately and to just not go there. Just because someone looks good, doesn’t mean that you look bad. This is called compare & despair. You compare yourself to someone else and you immediately then beat yourself up. Remember that you are great, even if someone else is great too.
  • If you notice that someone’s outfit is triggering you, don’t berate them, even silently to yourself. That will create anger or resentment inside. Men aren’t the only ones who are capable of objectifying women. Sometimes women will label other women “sluts”  or “whores” if their appearance triggers comparative thinking or insecurity.  It might be good to talk to them and see that they are human, not someone to be objectified or degraded. They might be just as intimidated by you and your appearance. If this is someone who you’d rather not talk to, simply avoid them. Don’t let their outfit affect your good time.
  • If it’s too hard this year, don’t go out, or just invite some safe people over for pumpkin carving and hanging out. It’s okay to take care of yourself by avoiding a situation that can be potentially harmful.

Have Fun and Be Safe! Happy Halloween!

How to Slow Down

how to slow downThe other day, one of my clients and I were discussing her impulses. She vibrates at a very fast level. She’s got a lot on her mind, a lot on her plate and she does everything fast. Like really fast. This includes eating too much too fast and letting it turn into a binge, having sex with people without getting to know them, drinking too much too fast, and falling in love with people before getting to know them and then being stuck in heart-wrenchingly painful one-sided relationships with people who don’t love her the way she thinks she loves them. Now don’t get me wrong, her impulsive side has helped her to be very successful in life. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s successful and she’s got lots of great friends who love her. However, she sometimes finds herself in the middle of something that she doesn’t quite want to be in because she leaped in too quickly. Certainly this happens with binge eating, she will kind of snap out of it to find herself in the middle of a binge, but it’s also other things in life, a trip up to Tahoe with people she barely knows, finding herself drunk and in bed with a guy who she met earlier that evening, being $5000 in credit card debt due to the purchase of a very expensive purse that she really didn’t need, but really thought she needed in the moment. This inability to take life slow, though certainly exciting in the moment, makes life more difficult on the other end. There are ways to simply slow down and not get caught in the cycle of undoing a mess that you’ve somehow found yourself in.

 

1. Recognize that the sense of urgency is fake. There is very little in life that has to be done immediately. Is it possible that you will regret for the rest of your life not buying those Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes  that were on sale for only $400.00? Possibly. But probably not. When it’s something like this, walk away for at least 24 hours. If you don’t have 24 hours, if it’s a one-day sample sale, walk away for 2 hours and give yourself some time to think about it. There is very little that you actually need. Most purchases are driven by desire and want, which is fleeting.  Debt however is not.

2. Don’t sleep with someone that you don’t know when you’ve been drinking. Seriously. Just don’t. Get a number give a number and if it’s meant to be, you’ll meet up again when you’re both sober and you can figure it all out in a more clear-headed way. If he or she doesn’t call you later, you can imagine how they’d be if you had slept with them.

3. Take a week to not give any yeses. Instead of saying yes immediately to any requests, give the answer, “give me 24 hours to think about it.” Then, take some time to think about whether or not you actually want to do what is being requested of you.

4. Try to give thanks before eating. This doesn’t have to be about praying or saying grace. It could be as simple as thanking the earth for growing the lettuce you’re about to eat or thanking the salmon that you’re about to eat. Just taking a moment to express gratitude.

5. Slow down while you’re actually eating. Try implementing mindful eating techniques during meals so that you can eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied.

6. Stop your mind from chaining together cause and effects and long stories that aren’t true. Anxiety is caused by taking what ifs, stringing them together and then following the path to a disastrous end. And it all happens in an instant. What if I leave the house, get hit by a car, wind up in the hospital paralyzed for life, have no one to take care of me and die alone?  Your mind can be a very dangerous neighborhood, so tell it to slow down and to help you stay in the present. Imagine a giant stop sign telling you to just stop the irrational thinking.

What ways can you practice slowing down?