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To: Threat

The feeling of threat seems to preside, when our skills to cope with what we are feeling angst about is not practiced or known.

I used to feel threatened much more than I do now.  I suppose growing up helps.  I used to be worried about what people would say or think about me.  I coped by people pleasing, perfectionism, disordered eating/ working out or other unhealthy coping skills- and because of this, I felt threatened often.  If I didn't do, behave, perform or say the right thing, according to what the other persons expectations were, I felt threat.  And when I couldn't take it any longer and would do it "the way I wanted", I felt guilty, disloyal, or in the wrong.

When I was a new mom, esp. of two young boys, I felt threatened by my own emotions.  I did not know how to cope with the constant physical, mental, and emotional demands placed upon me.  Always being in pain with my headaches and jaw pain only complicated the matters.  I felt stuck in my world I was trying to figure out and severely lacked coping skills. I thought for a long time that once my pain went away, life would become easier.  No matter how many doctors I chased, the pain didn't seem to get better, so I realized I needed to do some serious mental work to withstand the pain, demands, and somehow still stay in the moment.  

I grew up and realized pain doesn't ever go away.  Whether physical, financial, relationships, emotional or mental pain- whatever it is, life will always give us pain. When my physical pain goes away, I will not pass my test and be free from the unpleasantries life serves.  But, we don't have to suffer.  We can adapt and not be threatened because there are healthy coping skills that help us feel alive and flexible.

But, (a big BUT)- often, we feel threat when faced with a new skill we have not yet learned.  Right?! Who likes to not be good at something?  No one.  And so we feel threatened.

Yep, I am going back to my new food intolerance's (this might be the topic for a while, still learning this world of mine).  I feel a huge threat. I have not created a world that is free of the foods my body doesn't process well and a "plate" full of ones I can.  Shopping, meal planning, going out to eat, eating what I shouldn't and feeling the negative affects and restarting the body detox, reading labels, cravings, and not to mention the mental and emotional turmoil of non-acceptance all leads me to feeling, "that word"- threat.  I feel a huge threat in my life.  And with that threat it seems to be blown out of proportion.  And will be, until I gain the coping skills I need and accept what I must.

What are the coping skills I need right now?

1. Radical Acceptance.  This is a term used in Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).  There are three parts to radical acceptance.  The first part is accepting that reality is what it is.  The second part is accepting that the event or situation causing you pain has a cause.  The third part is accepting life can be worth living even with painful events in it.  This of course takes a lot of thought and processing. But when break through's are made, it is freeing.

2. Empathy. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another (or self). Do you have the skill to understand feeling words and the room to feel them?  This is extremely powerful.  To give myself empathy would look something like this, "It is okay that I am having a difficult time changing my lifestyle in what I eat.  This would not be easy for anyone.  It is okay to feel angry and non accepting of this news, eventually you'll move into a different place.  It is okay to take your time. Not knowing what to eat, where to eat, and giving up foods you enjoy is not easy for anyone.  It used to be a luxury and now it has to be a choice.  This is a very difficult thing.  It is okay you are not perfect at it and you are allowed time to figure this out and struggle through this.  Life will look different in the future, but allow yourself to be where you are now and do not judge yourself according to where you want to be."

In most, or all situations we need to give ourselves (and others) empathy.  By doing this, we are allowed to more fully move through the process we are in at the moment and then move to the next step fully.  Feeling pushed by ourselves inappropriately will cause non-acceptance and threat.  When we are able to mindfully understand the cause and effects of our lives and feelings, we are able to be okay with the moment and not fight.  Empathy, it has been one of the most powerful, life changing practices for me.

3.  Mindfulness. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.  Also, a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.  As I am mindful of how I feel after I eat certain foods, I am able to take a mental note of its affects, so in the future I am able to more consciously make a choice of what I want to eat.  It then comes down to not necessarily what I want to eat, but how I want to feel.  Mindfulness really breaks down life so we can appreciate every moment, process our surroundings, and consciously be in control, instead of allowing life to whisk us away through its movement, leaving us feel lost and out of control.

As I work through these simple, yet, very intricate practices, I am able to move into a world filled with coping skills on how to deal with the threats food now presents.  Eventually, the threat will deaden and I will no longer feel its pointy sword.

Thank you,

Coping Skills: Radical Acceptance, Empathy and Mindfulness


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