I have a confession to make to you…

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2013 has been full of some serious body image blues.

You know how it goes:

  • not feeling comfortable your skin
  • feeling like none of your clothes fit well
  • not wanting to see your image in a mirror or a picture
  • struggling not to be tempted by the false promises and quick fixes of the diet and so-called “wellness” industry
  • feeling less then, ummm, hubba hubba with your spouse
  • not wanting to be very social
  • playing the compare game

A couple things crept in that started to take away from my New Year’s calm and clarity (my word for 2013): lack of sleep because of all things toddler (winter colds, potty training..) and my newly diagnosed asthma.  I was missing my time with my boot camp buddies – my one-two punch for social and active time.

I hit a wall. Right about the time I was doubling the staff at Potentia.  We just completed two successful cohorts of our 8 week Cultivating Courage workshop and put dates on the calendar for three Cultivating Courage Weekend Intensives.

All good stuff.

I was super pumped about all these happenings but was getting really depleted and disconnected from my social support.  My health was starting to suffer, too.

And in walked my body image blues right through the front door.

Shame said, “You hypocrite.  You are leading these men and women to heal their relationship with their bodies and you do not even feel good about your own.  You are a fraud.”

Ouch.

But here is where things took a different turn.  My discomfort in my skin did not necessarily dissipate but how I responded to these thoughts and feelings took a rather radical detour.

I practiced, practiced and continue to practice my shame resilience skills.  I dug in and wrote my daily gratitudes and read my daily devotions.

I got really clear on my needs and spoke them to my friends and family, not as demands but as requests.

I made my self-care – mind, body and soul – a priority and made sure my schedule reflected these values.

I practiced empathy with myself and others when judgements and crankiness reared their ugly heads.

I re-evaluated my boundaries and made sure I was not setting up walls which protect but also isolate.

I spoke my truth to my really, really safe people.

I now know I am enough even on days I do not feel enough.  I can hold that space while I feel yucky and not attack my core worth. Some days it is a bit of a knock down, drag out fight – but shame resilience has helped me run the marathon of living life reflective of my values and my true worth.

Wow.

Those who work in the eating disorder field are not immune to struggling with their own food and body issues.

And I am no exception.

It was pretty incredible to see how the ongoing practice of shame resilience kept me from dancing in the pit of self-loathing for very long.  It has helped me practice respecting my body even when I do not like it much.

Yeah, I am not immune to these thoughts or feelings.  But how I respond when they hit has truly been, well, awesome.

And as I say every day in my office, “Rarely are bad body image days about food, weight or the aesthetics of a certain body part.”

Negative body image is often the equivalent of that scratchy throat you get when feel you are starting to get sick. If you ignore the symptoms and do not take extra care to build up your immune system, you will get leveled and feel even worse, taking longer to recover.

And instead of going old-school and obsessing over weight, looks and what others think, my shame resilience skills are (almost) my default now and the obsessive tendencies to measure my worth by the number on the scale (if I had one) or how much I have worked out were not nearly as loud as they used to be.

This new response to shame has been so, so, so freeing and healing.  Instead of fearing vulnerability, I have grown to understand and respect its place in my life – though I do not like the feeling of it most of the time.

Reading Brené Brown’s books over the last few years have been so helpful in building my awareness about shame and normalizing the universal experience of shame.  I developed a whole new vocabulary.

But these last 9 months training with Brené, Robert Hilliker and the rest of the Connections team to complete my Certified Connections Facilitator Certification moved me from an intellectual insight of this work to a daily (well, mostly daily) practice.

I have seen the fruits of this practice in my marriage, my work as therapist and in my relationships with God, myself and others.

And this is why I can barely contain how excited I am to offer this work – Potentiafied for you in our Cultivating Courage Workshops and Weekend Intensives.

We have three Cultivating Courage Weekend Intensives scheduled for the remainder of this year: June 14-16, Aug 23-25 and Nov 1-3.  And my colleague, Molly LaCroix, and I will be launching our 8 week Weekly Cultivating Courage Workshop Series in January 2014.

For those who are local, we have some digging deeper workshops which will be launching this summer to give people a chance to freshen their Shame Resilience skills or have a toe-in-the water experience with this powerful work.

And plans are in the works to take this work online so our Potentia friends outside San Diego can have access to this material, too.  Make sure you are signed up to receive email updates so you can get the latest details on all of these happenings.

I would love to know what your questions are about shame and Brené Brown’s shame resilience theory.  Please email me directly at rbass@potentiatherapy.com or post your questions below.  If I feature your question in a future blog post, you will receive a copy of Brené’s most recent book, Daring Greatly.  So don’t hold back, I really want to hear from you.

Working on being my own cheerleader while cheering you on, too!

Rebecca

A Twist on Dealing with Negative Body Image

Negative Body Image.

In my tribe of Eating Disorder Treatment Specialists, we often say negative body image is the first to come and the last to leave in the treatment of food and body issues.

And that is a pretty constant truth from the many recovery journeys I have witnessed over the years.

My clients have taught me some more nuanced facts about body image, regardless of whether they have had a full blown eating disorder or not.

Everyone has (at least) a bad body image day.

Depending on where you fall, if at all, on the disordered eating spectrum, dealing with dark, obsessive, and/or negative thoughts and compulsions regarding your body is a part of the gig when dealing with disordered eating.

You may recognize all too well some of these reccurring negative thoughts used to bully and shame yourself – just fill in the blanks with your own words to customize these statements to your experience:

My ____ is so ____.
I feel so ______.
I am so ______.
My _____ looks so ____.
I just need to___.
When I _____ I will be _____.
I hate my_____.
My _____ will always/never be_____.

Ugh.

So many try to manage these thoughts and feelings by stuffing them and putting on their “I love my body” and “It’s all good” masks of virtue, hiding the truth that they are living at war with their body. Others externalize these thoughts and add to the cacophony of negative body talk and diet talk.

And this is where things often spiral.

Many try to manage the pain of being in their skin and their body shame by:

  • over exercising
  • restrictive eating
  • dieting
  • mindless, emotional eating
  • comparing
  • competing
  • shaming
  • all of the above

And this can lead to a dark journey into the world of eating disorders and disordered eating.  Yet, many hover in this place of emotional ickiness where they cannot shake the uneasiness of living in their skin and make genuine, though harmful, attempts to get relief.

For many of you, this battle really is not about your body.

If my client is stable emotionally and physically, and her needs are met nutritionally, then I often look at negative body image as a sign of something bigger.

Like when you get that scratchy throat feeling.  It is a sign you are on the verge of getting really sick; it is not just about the sore throat.  You know you need to rest, to take some extra Vitamin C, drink some tea, ask for help with projects, cut back on your social calendar.

When the yuck of a bad body image moment comes up, it is often a sign of something else going on in your life.  I move my clients away from the laser focus obsessions on what needs to change with their body and pull back the blinders to look at what else is going on in their life.

If you are feeling this way, it is important to asses:

  • if you are you getting enough rest,
  • how you are adjusting to weight restoration or weight loss (yes, weight loss can be very triggering)
  • stressors
  • social support — safe, sustainable, available social support
  • if you daily activities are life giving or draining
  • dieting behaviors
  • traumatic or distressing life events that have gone untreated
  • if your temperament is perfectionistic, obsessive-compulsive, cares big, and feels emotions intensely
  • labs taken within the last month and making sure all physical systems are operating well and your body’s needs are being met

I have learned that setting the expectation to always be comfortable in your skin is a set up for continual frustration and feelings of hopelessness.  (Not helpful…)

The key is not to focus on the goal of eradicating negative body image days (though the parallel process is to decrease the frequency and intensity of those days, for sure)  but instead to respond on those days, weeks, months when you are feeling crappy in your skin DIFFERENTLY.

Instead of defaulting to negative food and body obsessions and action, I work with my clients on how to acknowledge what they are really feeling and what they are really thinking in that moment. 

Then we focus on respecting those thoughts and feelings in the moment.  I also emphasize the truth in how my clients feel.  What they feel is always real but rarely is it ever fact.

Finally, we focus on how to respond differently when body hatred arises.  Instead of stuffing, minimizing or denying — which only fuel the negative thoughts and coping tools — I work with my clients on accessing new tools and strategies when the dreaded body yuck surfaces.

When there is too much focus on feeling better in your body and not looking at the correlation with bad body image to other factors — physical, emotional, social, and spiritual — then I think we are limiting the potential of experiencing true health and true healing.

And it is ok not to love your body all the time.

But I think it is imperative to focus on respecting your body and being grateful for your body — even when you do not like it.

You can actually dislike your body while also showing your body respect and gratitude.  Eventually, respect and gratitude will win if you hang in there.

For example, there are a good handful of people I know that I do not care for but I respect them, treat them with dignity and kindness, and find space for being genuinely grateful for the challenging relationship.

Consider this strategy in your relationship with your body.

With heavy doses of respect and gratitude in addition to responding differently to your bad body image days, the feeling of your body never being enough may dissipate, and an eventual truce with your body may be declared.

And if one of those days surfaces again, the hope is you do not shame yourself for backsliding in your recovery but see your body image woes as a clue, a hint to investigate what is out of sorts in your life.

All the while administering generous doses of respect and gratitude.

How do you deal with your bad body image days?
Do you agree that it is not realistic to achieve a space where you never have a bad body image day?

With respect and gratitude –

Rebecca

 

Everybody Knows Somebody: NEDAW 2013

 

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2013 is wrapping up tomorrow.  This year’s theme is a repeat: “Everybody Knows Somebody.”

I have been thinking a lot lately about the people I have had the honor to meet and work with over the last (almost) 10 years. I wish I could share with you the intricate details of their stories of heartbreak, despair, pain, victory, and perseverance.  They have taught me so much about the disordered eating spectrum, grace, humility, and redemption.

What I can do is share with you how many of the people you interact with every single day are hurting inside and masking it so well that you have no idea what is really going on in their minds, hearts, and souls.

You are around people every day who are terrified of being found out, misunderstood, judged:

  • for eating a “bad” food;
  • for binging+purging;
  • for living on caffeine and crumbs;
  • for doing things with food and their body that would make your toes curl;
  • for being overweight and seen as lazy, stupid, a burden to society;
  • for not being able to manage life without their disordered eating thoughts and behaviors;
  • for their life being so chaotic, out of control, unsafe;
  • for hurting and hating their bodies, their lives, their existence.

You see their smile, their amazing work ethic, the kind disposition. You laugh at their jokes and praise them for their faithful service and always being available to help.

Or you may be distracted by their extra weight, their health struggles, their mood swings and think it is just about the food, just a phase, or simply manipulative attention-seeking.

Think again. It is probably so much more.

We live in a culture that is not showing any signs of letting up with the pressure to fit into a certain size, shape, look, way of being.  While there are more and more people desiring authenticity and courage — and stepping up and living it — there are still so many people you know who are terrified of being seen in their pain, their darkness, their cesspool of destructive choices.

I hear many cheer on stories and acts of vulnerability. I deeply admire those sharing their stories while living a life of courage. It is medicine for the collective soul.

But when I step out of the safe zone of my home, my inner circle of support and Potentia, I am up to my eyeballs in snark, criticism, bitterness, cruelty, bullying, and fear. Yes, there is hope and light amidst the toxic culture we live in, but wow. It is intense out there and many are breaking under the pressure.

You may not notice these individuals screaming loudly from inside their minds, but look again.

You may be too busy, overwhelmed, or caught up in your our pain to see that others are struggling, too, right in front of you. Understandable. It is hard to be human.

Or you may think really seeing, sitting with, and empathizing with someone’s pain is too hard, unbearable. Indeed. That kind of connection is a full body commitment and investment. Healthy boundaries (not walls) are needed so you can discern what your limits are on any given day.

But I think we can no longer tolerate looking away from the pain of those around us. This is volatile ground to tread. But when you hear someone speaking poorly about their body, dieting (the gateway drug for eating disorders), negligent with how they nourish and care for themselves, please do not tell them how to change or look away.

Please do slow down and listen. Build a relationship with the person you are concerned about. Ask questions. Seek to understand. Listen some more. That in itself is so life-giving to someone living in emotional isolation.

I hear many people say, “I do not get eating disorders. That is not my struggle.” You may not struggle with food and body issues, but I suspect you know full well what it is like to feel alone, rejected, ashamed, overwhelmed, afraid, and helpless. So yes, you can connect with someone struggling with an eating disorder regardless of whether that is a part of your story.

Eating Disorders, Disordered Eating and all the related issues — obsessions with counting calories + dieting + eating “healthy,” good food/bad food, excessive working out, anxiety, compulsions, depression, suicidal thoughts, self harm behaviors, body shame, unhealthy perfectionism — are attempts for people to chase the ache of the core negative belief, “I am not worthy of love.”

At the heart of a lot of the wellness issues in our country is deep emotional pain. Genetics, family of origin, trauma, temperament, and distressing life events all play intricate roles in this complex and damaging illness, and the reductive solutions offered by many are fueling the pain, not relief.

As this year’s NEDAW wraps up, remember:

  • Everybody knows somebody in the process of recovering from somewhere on the disordered eating spectrum;
  • Everybody knows somebody who is painfully concerned with how she is perceived by others;
  • Everybody knows somebody giving up a food group or going on a diet with the hopes it will cure their emotional pain or physical ailments, only to be left unsatisfied and under-nourished;
  • Everyone knows someone who would rather hurt herself than somebody else;
  • Everybody knows somebody that is deceptively in deep emotional pain screaming out for help behind her smile and put-together demeanor;
  • Everybody knows someone who defines herself solely by the darkness of her story;
  • Everybody knows somebody who repeatedly talks negatively about her body, oozing with self-hatred and disgust when she looks in the mirror;
  • Everybody knows somebody who fears being fat, thinks she is fat, feels fat regardless of the facts;
  • Everyone knows someone who exercised for hours on end to the point of injury;

Everybody Knows Somebody.

You Know Somebody.

If you want to learn more about the disordered eating spectrum, check out the National Eating Disorder Association website. It is an incredible resource for those who are struggling with and those who are learning about eating disorders.

How have you reached out to someone struggling? What was difficult? What went well? Please do share!

Cheering you on –

Rebecca

 

Show Up + Be Seen

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I love this cute bag came that came with my Daring Greatly t-shirts.

 

Show Up + Be Seen

in your pain, your brokenness, as you nurse your scars. You are not alone.  We need to hear your story and give witness to your healing journey. Because then we do not feel as alone in our own pain and brokenness, garnering inspiration to start/continue our own healing journey.

Show Up + Be Seen

as you celebrate your victories, true love, accolades and promotions.  Stand firm, do not shrink and do not shout. Just. stand. firm. as you share all the good things happening in your life with your circle of support who will gladly do a happy dance with you.

Show Up + Be Seen

look fear in the eye and speak your truth.  We need to see you live a life of courage. It is contagious and our world needs to catch more courage.

Show Up + Be Seen

as you forgive, are forgiven, and begin the marathon healing process involved with forgiveness.  Whether you have been betrayed, been the betrayer or both — the complex path of forgiveness is a winding but so important path to stay on for as long as you are alive.

Show up + Be Seen

as you find your voice, push back the lies and lean in to your dreams.  Edit the naysayers out of your life and mute the drill sergeant between your ears.  Our dreams are inspired by the One who has a plan for you and me beyond our comprehension. Go big. Go small.  Just keep going for the dreams oozing out of your heart to help make this planet a better place.

Show up + Be Seen

when you mess up, make up, feel emotions in all their glory.  We need more people who shed the mask of “I have it all together” to reveal their humanity.  Wholehearted living is scary but it is truly living.

Show up + Be Seen

on your best side, your worst side — without the screens.  Vulnerability and authenticity are gorgeous; though they may not feel safe, they sure provide the best light to showcase your precious story.

Show up and Be Seen

as you let go of cool, sophisticated, and polished so your inner goof ball can get some air time.  Laughter, lightheartedness, and silliness are good for your soul.

Show Up + Be Seen

when others are scoffing, judging, disconnecting.  Hold your head high, give grace, receive grace, and rally around your safe people as you regroup from the mean, unjust aspects of the world we live in.

Show up + Be Seen

because your life matters. Your voice matters. And the world needs you to live the life you are called to live.

Show up + Be Seen

reaching out, asking for help, digging deep. Stay steadfast. Do not give up but make sure you come up for air from time to time as this healing+growing process can be all consuming.

Show up + Be Seen

as you set boundaries, not walls. Say yes and no with purpose, clarity, and intention instead of people pleasing, conflict avoiding, and reactionary fear.

Show up + Be Seen

as you fight the slippery slope of “group think” and “going along to get along.”  The spotlight can be intense as you step away from living life based on what others think you “should” do, say, think.  You are up for the challenge.

Show Up + Be Seen

as imperfect, true, glorious you. There is no one else on the planet just like you. Amazing.  Simply Amazing.

———

How are you wanting to show up + be seen today as you seek to live the life you are called to live?  What scares you the most about being seen?

Rebecca

PS – This post deserves inspiration thank you’s to:

  • the many men and women who have entrusted me with their hearts over the years who continually come to my office to show up and be seen no matter the challenges they were facing.

  • Brené Brown and Connections Partner Robert Hilliker. Thank you for being the Spark and the Torch Bearer, respectively, of this amazing work.

(re) define Valentine’s Day

Be known by love

Another Valentine’s Day is here.  At my house, there is an explosion of hearts: garland, paper, stickers, lights, plates, cookie molds, place mats, table cloths and more.  It has been fun to celebrate love with the three people I adore the most on this planet and who are responsible for healing my heart+increasing its capacity to give and receive love.

But this day was not always a fun one for me.  When I was in elementary school, I would measure my loveableness by comparing the number of valentine’s I received in my uniquely decorated tissue box and then comparing that amount with the booty my other classmates received.

In high school, I did not have a boyfriend (though I always had a crush or two) but would be privy to the elaborate date night plans my friends and their sweet hearts would make for this oh, so coveted of nights.  It was fun to hear about all the fun ideas and caring gestures my friends would put together.  Yet, behind my smiles and words of support, was a heart wanting to be seen + loved.

It was not Valentine’s Day for me.  It was Vulnerability Day in neon lights.

Now, I am especially grateful for the people in my life day in and day out who show me continually what it means to be loved and feel loveable – even when I am far from that.  I am thankful for a God who loves me in the fiercest of ways though that fact is so hard for my mind to comprehend in the noisiness of this world.

Yet, I am still keenly aware of how hard this day is for many.

It is salt on the wounds of loneliness, desire and longing.

This day can poke at the cumulative distressing life events stored in your heart+mind depleting your motivation to do what you need to care well for yourself.  While I have seen EMDR help many experience healing from distressing events in their lives, I know safe and loving relationships are crucial for sustained healing.

So when I read Anne Lamott‘s Facebook post on Sunday, I was inspired. I also laughed out loud – because she has that way with her words – getting you to laugh about the most deeply painful experiences because she taps into what is shared by so many.

Here is an excerpt of her post:

I would estimate that approximately 17% of people enjoy Valentine’s day. Mostly, women will be given boxes of chocolates that they don’t want and can’t resist, and will be really mad at themselves for inhaling. Many people will be filled with resentment, anxiety, and guilt at having forgotten, or having shown up late, or having accidentally been having affairs with other people. Many people will feel a sheet-metal sense of loneliness and rejection. They will be comparing their insides with other people’s outsides, especially those happy valentines actors in advertisements and commercials.

Most of the day, except for the lucky few, will be a nightmare.

So let’s start an Occupy Valentine’s Day movement.

Let’s begin with the premise that another word for Valentine’s Day is Thursday. And on Thursday, as an act of radical self-care, we will celebrate the miracle that a few people love us SO much, that we can go on, and bear up, no matter what; that even though they know the darkest, most human and intimate and disgusting stuff about us, they still love us. In fact, they love us more and more through the years. This is so wild, and is really my only hope. It is what salvation looks like. A handful of friends is the reason my faith in God is so deep. Because they ARE love; they (along with the dogs) are my most obvious connection to divine love in this joint, the looks of love on their faces.

I think Anne is definitely on to something.

So let’s follow Anne’s lead and get all subversive on the current rituals and commercial imagery of Valentine’s Day.  It is in need of a make over and I think we are up for the challenge.

If you are wrestling with feeling loved and finding meaning, please know you are not alone.  Listen for the collective shout out’s rallying from those who are wrestling with their own heartache+despair.  Look behind the masks of “I am fine.”, “It is no big deal.” and “Don’t worry about me.”

Hug. Write a note. Make that phone call. Send a text.  Reach out.  Listen.

Take the bubble bath.  Wrap up in your cozy blanket. Listen to the music that evokes the emotions you are trying to numb out.  Get outside and breathe in some fresh air.  Let some sunshine radiate in on the darkness you are fighting.

I do not need a day to celebrate those in my life who love me regardless.  But I agree with Anne Lamott: it is indeed a miracle to have their love. And that is what I am going to celebrate with extra care and intention tomorrow.

Who is the person you want to celebrate in honor of the love they have given you?

How are you going to show love and respect for yourself+others outside of the traditional hype tomorrow?

Do share!  I want to celebrate with you.

Cheering you on –

Rebecca

Weekend Wonderment

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Happy Weekend!

I am kicking off a new series to share some of what inspired+grabbed my heart this week.

White tulips:  I love this time of year because it is bulb season.  And my very favorite, white tulips, opened up in my window sill this week bringing a smile to my face every time I looked at them.  Yay – Spring is near!

TWLOHA: Heavy and Light Tour: On Tuesday, I was invited by TWLOHA (To Write Love on Her Arms) to attend a special concert intending to do more than just promote awareness about mental illness, suicide prevention and self-harm behaviors.  They wanted to move me.  And they did, indeed.  Megan and I were watching the crowd as much as we enjoyed the talent from the stage.  It was a crowd of people who clearly felt understood, valued, respected, less alone in this space.  In a world of masks and “Everything is fine” this was a room full of people wearing their hard knocks visibly on their faces, their bodies.  It was an honor to have Potentia included on a list of local resources, along with other amazing colleagues of mine, TWLOHA provided to everyone in attendance.  The core messages of the night: Reach out, get help, speak your pain, break the silence and share your story.  You are not alone.  Amen.

Abby Kerr and her Voice Bureau: I am fairly new to Abby’s world but I love her work and really appreciate her voice.  I am also a word nerd.  And I tend to be a little protective of words that are meaningful to me while regularly cringing at some verbiage regularly used in written and spoken form.  Her recent post on buzz words that need to retire had me nodding in agreement.  And the discussion that ensued in the comments section was insightful and also hilarious.  As a therapist, I work with people in finding their own unique, powerful voice.  Though Abby is speaking to business owners and entrepreneurs, I love her Voice Values (scroll down on her Pinterest page to check the breakdown of her VV’s) and think it is a helpful tool for anyone seeking to get clear on their voice – written and spoken.

NEDA: February Kicks off National Eating Disorder Awareness Month. The last week of February, the National Eating Disorder Association hosts a week of coordinated awareness events about Eating Disorders, Disordered Eating and Negative Body Image.  Check out what is going on in your local area and take some time to peruse the site and learn more about eating disorders, disordered eating and related issues.  Eating disorders are so complex, so misunderstood, so devastating.  Everybody Knows Somebody.  But not everyone knows what to do when they know someone really struggling with food and body issues.  NEDA is one of my favorite resources for education and advocacy.  There is no reason to not be aware.  Take the time to learn more about the most deadly of all mental illnesses and do not look the other way.  Lives are at stake.

Ann Voskamp’s 25 Point Manifesto for Sanity in 2013: For the soul. I am usually skeptical of reading the various manifestos I see out and about on the Internet.  Yet, I was so curious to read Ann’s words, as they are like a cool glass of water on a hot day every time my eyes read her blog.  4, 7, 8 were spot on for me…  and wow, loved the quote from number 12 “Constant connectivity affects productivity like a marijuana high.”  Unplugging is so important to my mental health but one I find so tricky to do at this season of life where I have limited windows of time to work+create.  But after a week of burning the candle at both ends, my mind, body and soul need to unplug, reconnect and restore. Oh and, number 23. Breathe. Deep, intentional breathing is non-negotiable to staying present and clear.

Megan Aumann: A little over a year and a half ago, I met Megan.  I immediately knew if I was her neighbor, we would become fast friends.  And that I would spend a lot of time playing in her studio. Megan is a kind+spunky+oh so very smart woman who is working her talents as a business woman, an artist and a thought leader.  I really like her jewelry and was blown away by how light the pieces are when worn.   I am currently drooling over this necklace.  I would love to have her do a trunk show at Potentia sometime… I think it would be so fun yet so dangerous to my pocketbook.  Check out her blog and see her amazing booth she had at a show in NYC this week.  Creative+Classy.

Shoot Christians Say. Hilarious+Spot on.  I know many people who resonate with the point of this video and have been sharing it with clients and friends all week.  Props to Nikki Rollo from Reasons for making me aware of this funny+cringe-worthy parody.

What inspired you this week? Do share.  I really want to know.

Have a wonderful weekend and take care of your amazing heart.

Rebecca

 

 

Holding the Numbers Lightly

lifetooshort

 

Numbers.

I have a lot of conversations about numbers in my line of work. And not the numbers that my accountant or financial planner talk with me about (ugh) but the numbers that are used to help us measure our physical health.

My clients over the last decade have taught me that these numbers can be destructive, shaming, and spike their inner drill sergeant to start screaming awful things about their worth + value.

Working with those who struggle with eating disorders, negative body image, and disordered eating has taught me a lot about some numbers and how they can be draining and all-consuming.

I am referring to the number:

on your scale
of the size of your pants
of calories or points of a food item
on your labs (I like these numbers but they can often be used incorrectly)
of calories burned

While I believe our emotional, relational, and spiritual health are deeply enmeshed with our physical health, I want to address these numbers — particularly the number on your scale — and how you use them as you seek to make changes in your physical well-being.

When it becomes clear to me that these numbers are toxic to my clients and are preventing any real change from happening, I often ask them to take a big risk and leap of faith.

I ask them to get rid of their scale.

Sometimes they are not ready to get rid of it, so I hold it at my office (you should see the space under my couch) or they put it in the trunk of their car or have a trusted friend hold it or hide it.

Afraid of losing control without their scale, my clients ask:

What if I gain a ton of weight?
How will I know if I am making progress?
What will motivate me for change without the scale?

I always respect this resistance. I get it.

It’s a frightening idea to let go of this measure that helps them manage their anxiety + fear and has been serving as an emotional container for some time. But if they are in my office, I suspect this means of containing has reached capacity.

The scale simply does not serve as an effective means of control and in fact spikes obsessive thoughts about weight, food, numbers, and what other people think.

Stepping on the scale fuels the “never enough” crazy-making because:

  • If it is higher than you would like, you feel anxious, depressed, ashamed.
  • If it is right where you want it to be, you are excited but also paralyzed by fear of doing anything that will change that number in the wrong direction.
  • Even If you have achieved a weight in the range that is best for your body, sometimes the desire to go even lower gives a rush that is hard to resist.

Contrary to the many messages we are inundated with in our culture, weight is not a direct correlation to our health.  Last week, the results of a meta-analysis study of weight and mortality revealed those deemed overweight were associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.

This study is more indication of the need to rethink how we define overweight and obese. I want to be clear, the results of this study are not a pass for those who need to make changes in how they care for their body. But shaming people to make changes to better their well-being is not effective and is destructive.

Determining our well-being is way more complex than a number on a scale or an antiquated formula or chart. These faulty formulas are pervasive in our culture and prey on those who are feeling pretty crappy about themselves, who are desperate for change and relief.

When the number on the scale is the primary measure of your success in achieving your goals, you are vulnerable to a shame spiral.

When this number has power over your worth and value, it is time to get off the scale until you can recalibrate that way of thinking and learn how to bench negative emotion so you respond to your pain in ways that are not harmful to yourself and others.

Many clients report a positive emotional benefit after taking a break from the scale. They report less anxiety and that their inner drill sergeant has dialed back the volume.

Let me be clear: I think it is important to own all of these numbers…

…at the right time in your healing journey.

At the wrong time, shame, perfectionism, impatience, and fear can take these numbers and wreak havoc on your sense of worth, your mood, your focus.

Megan Holt, Potentia’s Coordinator of Nutrition + Wellness, often monitors the numbers on the scale for our clients while working with them on strategies towards true health that are customized for each individual. (Note: We all need a Megan in this culture!)

When our worth gets tied up in numbers, we make changes — often needed changes — for reasons that do not support sustaining change.

Our goal is to help people really discover where their bodies have the most energy and function the best. We support people discovering their food preferences and moving away from calling food good or bad. It is so amazing to see people find a way to enjoy food while still nourishing well.

When we use eating, restricting, or eliminating food in unsafe ways to take away the pain or to numb, dull, and repel, we do not allow ourselves to develop the emotional muscle to bench the hard stuff in life.

Food — eating it or restricting it — is powerful. It can be fun + enjoyable, too.

But for many, tolerating joy is very triggering and even less tolerable than shame and fear. Going back to the dark space, albeit uncomfortable, is known. And our brains like known.

So, if you are starting off this new year and food + body issues are one of your primary goals to tackle this year, awesome.

But please hold the numbers lightly.

And if you notice the numbers on your scale or on food items you are eating or the size of clothes giving fuel to your inner drill sergeant, then take a pause.

Ask your dietician, your nurse, or doctor to do blind weigh-ins for a while and not to talk about numbers for a bit as you seek to recalibrate your thinking.

These numbers are one of many factors that measure your progress on the journey towards true health, but they are not the sole indicator of progress as they may fluctuate for a variety of reasons.

Hold the numbers lightly as you seek true health in your life, and fiercely guard your heart from believing your worth is tied into a number.

Cheering you on —

Rebecca

Slowing Down + Feeding Ourselves Well.

Source: potentiatherapy.com via Rebecca on Pinterest

Today is National Food Day.

The effort behind this movement is a “nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.”

We believe there is room for all foods in how we feed ourselves.  We also believe food is medicine.  When we nourish well, we feel well.

So many we work with have:

  • an obsessive;
  • a fearful;
  • a love/hate;
  • a distant
  • a frustrating

relationship with food.  Food does not have to take away your power.  Instead, it can empower you to live, be, and serve well.

When our clients begin to heal their relationship with food, they discover their food preferences, the joy of caring for their bodies and, yes, the joy of eating.

Eating well = fun + freeing.

Eating well = freedom from the loud voices in your head that shame you for eating a food deemed “bad”.

Eating well = energy, clarity, slowing down, enjoyment, community, connection.

The grassroots effort of the Slow Food Movement to maintain the diversity + quality in our food supply while supporting farmers through purchasing locally grown whole foods is exciting because it brings home the fact that how you feed yourself not only impacts you but those in your community.

Slowing down and feeding ourselves well: It’s good for our bodies, our community and our planet.  AND it’s totally affordable. (Seriously!)

Wow! A big part of healing your relationship with food, your body and your story involves being a part of something bigger in your life.  One simple way you can jump start that process is by checking out your local farmer’s market and connecting with those who grow/raise your food.

Several venues here in San Diego County will be hosting events in honor of National Food Day. Visit www.foodday.org to find an event near you.

Also, check out the San Diego Farm Bureau’s website to find your local farmer’s market. (or the FB in your local area.)

Go get some farm fresh tomatoes for your tomato sauce.  Or grab some fresh apples and free-range eggs for your apple spice cake.  Pick up some freshly harvested greens for your dinner salad tonight.

And if you see us at the market, please say hello!  We are honored to be a part of your community.

Slowing down and eating well –

Rebecca + Megan

Call to Action

 

Wow!  Potentia has had its own brick and mortar space for a little over 9 months now.

And it has been so crazy-busy-fun-amazing-blessed wrapped in some stress, grace, clarity and relief.

This new space has been a dream call to action on my heart for several years.

After waiting, and waiting and waiting for the right time, it just flowed when I signed the lease for the new space last June.

Once the lease was signed, I was compelled and consumed by a vision to create a unique space where healing could happen supported by a specialized and collaborative team of professionals.

When I first got the picture for Potentia’s expansion, I wanted to act immediately, jump ship, make it happen.

It felt intolerable at times to just sit with this call and not. do. a thing. other than pray+clarify + prepare.

The posture of waiting is not the stance I have assumed for most of life.  My husband teases me often how I love to jump first and then think.  But sometimes I was jumping not just for the adventure but because it did not feel good to wait.

Patience has not been a strong virtue of mine.

Nonetheless, I have been building up emotional muscle to bench the gift of patience and it has taught, and continues to teach, me a a lot.

My change in professions, marriage and parenthood started to

  • shift the value I saw in the virtue of patience,
  • (re) define my definition of productivity,
  • and challenge what I valued as worthy and enough.

Prior to signing the lease, I spent a lot of time over-riding the call on my heart with fear, doubt, logic, over-thinking, over-processing and more.

I had found many reasons to not honor this simple, pure and clear call to action vision for Potentia’s next phase of growth.

Until I could not tolerate it any more.

To be authentic, vulnerable, to trust the gentle but firm nudge from God, I had to believe. I had to surrender staying on the side lines and playing it safe.

After much prayer and a significant beat down on my own fears and doubts, I felt I had permission to move forward. To grow.  To draw attention.  To make some noise about how our definitions of health and worth are keeping us sick; how we are keeping ourselves imprisoned by narratives that lie and cheat us from true health, freedom and peace.

At Potentia, We Can Do Hard Things.

And Potentia’s expansion infused a new jolt of faith, inspiration and passion to walk with, equip and respect those who are fighting their own personal battle mind, body + soul.

I love how the team at Potentia joins with our clients to give witness to their courage, pain, battle wounds, inspiration, frustration, fatigue, fear and more.

When they do not have hope, we wave the hope flag.

When they achieve a victory, we cheer (sometimes really loud. seriously.).

When they want to give up, we nudge, respect and reflect.

Yes, those who enter the doors of Potentia can do hard things.

And those who are not sure about starting that work I believe you can, when you are ready, live the life you are called to live.

I encourage you to not devalue or minimize your struggles and not let shame keep you in isolation.  You have our respect and we have not even met you yet.  🙂

Below is a slide show from some of the events and meetings we had at Potentia to celebrate the expansion. It warms my heart and fires me up.  I now truly love and embrace the call to action that has been placed on my heart.

What is the call to action on your heart today?  How are you responding to that call?  Have you shared it with anyone in your inner circle yet? 

If not, I encourage you to give voice to it TODAY, no matter how crazy, random, unrealistic you may think it is.  The call to action on your heart needs you to give it voice.  No matter how much it scares you.  Write it down.  Shout it out loud. Whisper it to a dear friend.

Your soul is calling you to stretch+grow+heal.

Being stagnant is not safe.  It is stifling.  The unknown is scary but staying stuck can be scarier.

Honoring the call,

Rebecca

ps:  If you want to stay connected and up to date on the latest happenings at Potentia, please sign up for our newsletter at www.potentiatherapy.com “like” us on Facebook or follow me on Twitter (#rbassching)

Is Authentic Going the Way of Awesome?

 

By Molly La Croix, LMFT Trauma Expert at Potentia Family Therapy

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (“Keeping it Real at Facebook” 2/12/12) the author lamented the use of such phrases as authentic self.

She states, “Unless you start out fake you don’t need to learn to be genuine, right?”

While she was talking about overinflated egos and verbiage resulting from stratospheric levels of success, I found myself worrying that soon the word authentic might go the way of the word awesome.

We all know awesome has become one of the most overused adjectives, losing meaning and weight in the process.  It used to be used to convey a sense of wonder and majesty, and now it just conjures up the image of a preteen boy on a skateboard with his hat on sideways.

Why do I care that authentic might go the way of awesome?

Because our fundamental challenge as human beings is to figure out who we truly are and then live out that unique self in relationships where we do not have to pose or hide or morph into someone else.

Being an authentic self is not something to be mocked, or trivialized, or derided as a fad.  It is a worthy ambition.  It is a destination on a journey that is fraught with obstacles and challenges, requiring courage and perseverance.  It is a goal demanding stamina and a supportive community.

If being authentic means being real, genuine, and true – among other things – what makes it so difficult?  As the author said, “Unless you start out fake you don’t need to learn to be genuine, right?”

The difficulty lies in universal experience of shame when we venture forth as our true self and we perceive rejection of that self.  That can start as early as infancy when the baby cries and does not receive comfort.  Perhaps the self really was rejected by a harsh parent who called us stupid. Or, perhaps the child just interpreted a benign remark as a criticism of that self.

The issue is not whether the person meant to shame us.

The issue is that we all internalize a degree of shame about our core, authentic self.  That shame prompts all of us to be fake sometimes.

For some, the degree of shame is so great they live each day flooded by it.  For others, the negative beliefs associated with the feeling of shame, such as, “I’m not good enough, not loveable, not worthy…” pop up occasionally.

I don’t believe any of us entirely escape the influence of unhealthy shame, the kind that causes us to want to hide our authentic selves.

Just think about the last time you took a risk to take a stance with someone who is important to you – spouse, parent, partner, child, co-worker. Any anxiety crop up?  Any fear of rejection?

Depending on the weight of the issue, and the degree to which you internalized negative beliefs, that anxiety might have been great enough to silence your voice.

And that brings us back to the importance of being an authentic self.  It is not trite, it is essential.

Shame will silence us.  Those brave enough to be intentional about authenticity deserve praise and celebration.