Staying Afloat When You’re Not Sinking

For those who struggle with self-limiting coping behaviors like binge eating and anesthetic alcohol consumption.

It can be easy to understand coping poorly with a rough day of rejection, dejection, and mayhem.

It might be trickier to comprehend being triggered by a day where everything flowed, and you felt connected, loved, and looked out for.

Yesterday was such a day for me. I made substantial progress with a project that shows every indication of opening my life up to unprecedented plateaus of financial, creative, and entrepreneurial prosperity. It all felt downright magical.

Why then, would I respond to all that with an evening of beer, excessive junk food, and isolation, especially considering that lately I’ve been doing well with balance in these areas and feeling super happy about that?

Well, beer and junk food are coping mechanisms. They produce a reliable effect, by putting a wall up between myself and my feelings. So it is logical that I utilize these behaviors when my feelings are intense.

Positive feelings can be as intense as negative ones. Sometimes my positive feelings have built syngerstically to the point I felt way too vulnerable and out of control. Times when I realized the importance of balance, even in regards to feeling good.

It may seem strange, but feeling good can be stressful.

In my case yesterday, my good feelings were connected to an element of taking my life to places it has not yet been before. Places I’ve dreamed of and yearned for, for over thirty-six years. Places I’ve needed to go, but sometimes didn’t believe would come to fruition.

Nothing excites me more than the path ahead. But by moving towards it, I move away from my comfort zone.

Which is wonderful.

And terrible.

But just totally wonderful.

Yeah. I’ll drink to that. Well, I drank to it last night, anyway.

What about you? Have you ever taken a weird detour right at the crux of a major breakthrough in your life? Have you ever thrown a wrench into your own gears to slow yourself down even though you were headed to places you wanted to go?

And what did you do next?

What I’m going to do next is finish writing this sentence, then meditate, go mulch my grandma’s lawn, connect with some friends, and keep working towards my dreams.

A binge like the one last night is usually associated by an increased likelihood of having some point the next day when I feel tempted to go for an encore. In brain terms, my neural pathways associated with binge eating have been activated and are flowing, so binge eating becomes easy to keep doing.

So, I may need to call a friend today to talk some sense into me. The best thing a friend can do in this situation is remind me of other options and possibilities and tools to divert my flow of brain energy to healthier neural pathways.

One time a friend heroically saved me from a binge simply by saying, “Could you make a smoothie instead?”

It’s truly not rocket science. It’s just that when the brain slips into a mode of seeking comfort, a type of tunnel vision develops until the fix is procured or the pattern is interrupted.

There are an infinite variety of self-empowerment tools available. Infinite, because anyone can invent their own to meet their own recovery needs.

My cognitive toolbox is robust, but it’s useless when I don’t use it. Today, I set the intention of using it as needed.

Here are links to some of my personal favorite recovery tools that have been directly associated with some of the most stable and wonderful sections of my life:

Ultimate breathing technique for relaxation

How to disengage self-limiting thought processes

The awe-inspiring power of doing nothing

Heal trauma and anxiety with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

Liberated living: from mire to amazing

Feel free to post your own tools, thoughts, stories, and ideas. Your input is valuable to me, and I hope you all have a stellar day.

Also published on Medium.