Attunement Exercise

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Attunement Exercise

Quick summary: In building an empathetic ability it is very important that people first advance their ability to attune to another person. I will briefly explain attunement, then I will offer a practical – easy to use – intervention.

Why Attunement is positive: Attunement is an operating strategy in which the participants are trying to be fully absorbed in the experience of the present moment. When we attune to another person we are becoming fully immersed in the emotional world of that person in the present moment. This leads the person who is feeling ‘attuned to’ to feel as though they are being deeply understood and that their present need and emotional reality is being ‘held’ by the listener or receiver.

Where attunement develops in Humans: Human babies cannot talk… so in order for their needs to be met, the primary caregiver(s) must be able to attune to the baby’s emotional reality to a degree that they can arrive at what the baby needs (food, more or less stimulation, a diaper change, a hug etc.) Human adults are not always very good at expressing what they need 😉 … so Attunement allows the listener to arrive at a need that may not be expressed very clearly using verbal communication.

Attunement has intrinsic and instrumental value: When a person feels attuned to they often are able to get a need met (get their diaper changed) – so attunement does have a significant instrumental value. Attunement facilitates a feeling of ‘secure attachment’ – you feel understood, as a ‘we’ (therefor not alone), safe, hopeful and connected. Such feelings are the building blocks for helping an individual to have courage in there authenticity such that they can achieve their fullest potential. So attunement is not simply a tool for getting concrete needs met… this method of operation creates meaningful connection.

What an ‘un-attuned’ experience’ feels like: We are trained and pre-programmed to primarily view our environment (and people) using one of two operating strategies = (1) logic, and (2) unconscious (automatic) labeling of the environment (and people) into three categories: Threat, Pleasure, and Neutral. The result of such operating strategies is somewhat a of ‘distanced’ feeling interaction with other people… this is because we are often not ‘seeing’ or ‘understanding’ other people as they truly are in the present moment; instead we are projecting unconscious and conscious conclusions onto them. The listener will therefor ‘understand’ or be able to parrot back the ‘correct’ information about a story, but they will have no insight into how the speaker felt while conveying the story in the moment, nor will they have insight into what the emotional and existential significance of the story was to the speaker. The result is that the speaker will feel alone and possibly a bit hopeless that the listener will actually be able to meet a need.

Attunement is the Solution: Often times the world presents us with problems that do not really have concrete solutions… in these instances feelings attuned to by another person facilitates a place of safety and connectedness that relieves the burden of the current problem.

Attunement and Empathy – Empathy is when the listener is able to affectively convey an understanding of the speaker’s internal emotional reality back to the speaker. Without attunement one’s empathetic ability is significantly disadvantaged as they would only have access to a very limited amount of information.

Empathy and Compassion – what we typically call empathy is actually empathy with compassion. Empathy is simply the ability to “put yourself into another person’s experience” to “put yourself into another’s shoes” and to be able to communicate this understanding. After doings such it is compassion that would guide you to offer kindness and support to that person’s emotional reality (as opposed to using your empathic ability to manipulate/exploit another person).

 

Attunement Intervention Exercise

There will be a Listener and a Speaker for this Exercise (and a therapist if applicable)

* Note: the speaker is always directed to speak toward the listener while holding as much eye contact as is comfortable. The speaker and listener should be facing one another.

Direction to the Speaker:

  1. Tell me a story about something that you are really grateful for… OR
  2. Tell me a story which that expresses who you are as a person OR
  3. Tell me a story about a meaningful experience that was emotionally significant to you…

Additional guidance for the speaker: try and tell a story which has emotional significance, and when telling the story try and make sure that you are displaying affect and using emotional adjectives.

(Note 1 for therapists: often times these stories occur organically in a therapy session, if not, you can set it up for this enactment to occur.)

(Note 2: Ideally the story will be about both participants. Ex. A story about why the speaker is grateful for the listener)

Directions for the Listener

  1. Pay close attention to the speaker’s non-verbals and energy.
    1. Energy – how is this person’s emotional energy affecting the climate of the current environment?
    2. Non-verbals – what emotions are being expressed through body language that may be congruent or incongruent with the verbalized narrative?
  2. I want you to listen to the plot, but the most important thing is to focus on how the speaker:
    1. Feels while telling you this story in the current moment (ex. Relieved, nervous, and sad)
    2. How the speaker was feeling about the story that is being told while the story was taking place. (ex. In the story she felt very proud and hopeful and she felt very validated that I was there for her.)
  3. What the listener does not do: no plot corrections, no trying to be right, no adding to the plot, no thinking and waiting to speak instead of listening, no projecting your own emotional experience onto the speaker.

 

Optional: questions to deepen the experience of the speaker:

  • The therapist or listener asks the speaker a present moment somatic question…
    • “how do you feel in your body right now in this moment?”
    • “Can you point to where you feel more energy?”
    • “Does that energy have a color … a texture?”

 

The therapist or Speaker will then invite the listener to share:

  1. “What where the emotions that the speaker was sharing in this moment (in this office) while telling his/her story?”
  2. “And what were the most important emotions relevant to the story when it occurred?”

The Listener shares missing parts: The listener than is invited to share any additional emotions that were important.

Time for Reflection: Finally the listener and the speaker are invited to share their emotional reaction to the exercise.

Optional: The therapist or the listener deepens the experience with immediacy. (immediacy is when you point out non-verbal language and either 1 ask a question (ex. what did that mean when you bit your lower lip while talking about your partner?) or 2 make an interpretation (ex.I noticed that you were saying you were happy but your eye lid lowered as if you were sad)

 

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

Feelings are important in growing consciousness – Existential and Mindfulness Based Emotional Reflection Therapy

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Accepting your emotional reality and holding an awareness of those feelings helps us to be conscious of how we are currently being influenced … understanding this influence opens up the possibility to use reflection to guide your actions towards your best interests and towards the most ideal interaction patterns.

There is a huge amount of research coming out about the benefits in fostering relationships with emotional availability, vulnerability and authenticity. Such relationships promote healthy attachments which assist such things as: felt security/self-confidence, hope, stress reduction, physical health, a sense of meaning or purpose, and relational satisfaction. EFT (Emotionally focused Family therapy) is a couple’s intervention based on creating more secure attachments and AFFT (Attachment Focused Family Therapy) is the intervention to do the same within the whole family system.

I am suggesting an additional theory – emotion focused therapies are also increasing the ability for people to reflect = the ability to hold a stimulus (observation, sensation, thought or emotion) in your consciousness without automatically engaging in a reaction (behavior, thought, or emotion).

I therefore commonly use emotions for attachment objectives, and I also love using emotions as a means of increasing consciousness and one’s reflective ability (and therefor reducing automaticity).

Ask yourself this question – “Do you believe that your mood affects the way that you interact with people?”

And, “do you believe that your different moods influence the different ways in which you interact with people?”

Are there moods which are more associated with defensiveness and moods which are more accommodating for openness?

Most people will surely say of course… If I am pissed I am more likely to be defensive…

Though people generally understand this concept intellectually is relatively rare for a person to reflect on their mood and how their mood might affect their interaction with another person.

It is even more difficult for a person to be able to hold an open-minded consciousness about the thoughts or beliefs that were projected onto a stimulus which influenced the person’s current emotional state.

When I help to bring people into an awareness of their emotional state while in therapy I am often helping the person to have a deeper awareness of a specific or deconstructed emotion… While holding a safe and therapeutic space I will collaborate with the client in creating room for the client to reflect with curious acceptance about the various ways in which a specific emotion influences them… and perhaps where that emotion is coming from (what beliefs do you have about the stimulus and how are those beliefs encouraging you to feel?)…

Enactment set up to reproduce a baseline interaction pattern:

I often start with an Enactment in which I will instruct the clients to have a conversation in front of me that has historically not been very effective (misunderstandings, lack of empathy and support, and inability to reach a solution or to move forward).

Sex, Money, Parenting, rules, chores, alcohol etc. are common topics

I tell the clients that I will be stopping them … and for me to best help them they really need to stop when I assess that the emotional spiral has started.

I generally stop people very soon into the process – I have no interest in having people fall into a stress cycle where they are operating from their amygdala.

Humor, paradoxes, or/and gratitude are used to comfortably pull the clients into a place of reflection.

With a smile I enthusiastically say something like, “Great this is exactly what I wanted … is this how it is when you all at home?”

The paradox is that people expect a person to match their mood or to show nervous concern in the face of an argument. Compassionate humor with hope and encouragement often confuses the client and naturally brings them into a place of reflection.

The therapist’s emotional state encourages the client to question if they need to be reacting to the situation the way that they are… this curios questioning necessitates reflection.

It is always important for the therapist to walk the talk… During therapy I always engage in meditative breath and reflection (mindfulness) = breathing deeply into my abdomen while allowing my consciousness to reflect on my current present state at various moments throughout the session (I then offer compassionate acceptance to whatever emotion I may be holding)… please note that the academic side of our field often talks about ‘neutrality’… the method to achieve this state often sounds like emotional avoidance or resistance – this actually reduces a therapists presence or consciousness = I would be very careful with the topic of neutrality, especially when compassionate acceptance is not part of the conversation. (Neutrality requires that one has no ego… how many of us fit into that category? – I don’t.)

Within my own reflective state I attune more deeply to a client and will ask in different ways the following type of questions. (note: I am often intentionally ambiguous or different in asking questions – I have noticed that because therapists are displayed a certain way by Hollywood, clients will often disengage or become defensive if you ask ‘cliché’’ Hollywood-therapist’ type questions such as “how are you feeling.”

I start with – “please face your partner and tell them the answer to these questions.” I use non-verbal directions such as awkwardly looking away if the partners begin to focus on me instead of each other. At times I will gently smile and point to the partner.

Then I turn to the listener and state, “your job is to be as present as possible… I want you to put most of your attention on what your partner is experiencing in the moment… pay attention to your partners non-verbals and emotional language – the plot is not particularly important right now. If defensiveness arises – notice it and know that right now we are just trying to understand your partner’s subjective experience.” (Of course I use the right language for the given client and sometimes I am more specific with what not to do – such as” don’t correct the plot line or interrupt.”

What is going on for you right now?

What are you experiencing in your body?

What is the emotional impact that this interaction is having on you in this therapy office?… exactly now in this moment?

What beliefs do you notice coming up as you engage with this topic?

Do you know what kind of emotions you feel related to those beliefs?

I then turn to the listener and ask

“What did you come to understand … what do you notice your partner experiencing in this therapy office as he/she spoke to you?”

Again, I ask the person to speak to their partner and not to me. (If they ask why, either verbally or non-verbally, I will let them know that we are creating a new habit and you have do something (even if it feels contrived) to begin a new habit… then time and practice will be necessary.

I will gently redirect if the response is defensive or not related to their partners experience.

I then will have the listener switch roles with the speaker and go through the process again.

This concludes this intervention – I will often go into a solution oriented intervention surrounding articulating the partners’ needs and getting those needs met after the above intervention.

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

The thoughts, emotions, and behaviors triangle

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The Diagram below can be used to understand the interconnectedness of thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Additionally the diagram gives an easy to understand explanation of the many different means of offering a psychotherapy intervention. I use this Diagram to offer a visual depiction of all the different options which are available to help the client in achieving a desired change. I use this diagram to unify all theories… personally I am an eclectic therapist… I believe in all the various interventions and I would propose that perhaps being open to offering any of a diverse array of interventions is a sure way of increasing your ability to assist a diverse array of people (multi-cultural competence).

Changing behaviors – With this point of intervention you can help a person to engage in behaviors which with have a positive effect on their emotional state and thought processes.

How you change behaviors – Associations and Rewards are the two main interventions. With rewards you reward desired behaviors while mostly ignoring negative behaviors. With associations you train people to associate positive behaviors with things they believe to be positive… for example, in beer commercials they put attractive people in bathing suits in their adds to encourage you to associate their product with attractive half naked people… if successful, you will feel the same positive feelings looking at their product as you do when you think of half-naked attractive people… this encourages you to engage in the behavior of getting that product.

  • Example for thoughts – If you encourage a client to engage in behaviors which they are very likely to succeed at they will be internally rewarded by their success. This success can then encourage them to think “I can be successful” instead of “my goal is hopeless.”
  • Example for thoughts – engage is meditation. Engaging in mediation reduces unwanted thoughts and your emotional attachment to the content of your thoughts. Meditation is a behavior which has dramatic positive effects on your stress and therefor on your physical health. Medication has been shown to increase your ability to experience positive emotions… this behaviors increases you maximum happiness potential.
  • Example for emotions (biological) – If you are able to encourage someone to engage in exercise and proper nutrition you will be able to help them to improve their felt happiness. Some studies have found exercise to be as effective as anti-depressants in treating depression. Increasing the behavior of exercise therefor is a way of intervening to improve emotions.
  • Example for emotions (pharmacological) – You can also encourage someone to engage in the behavior of taking an anti-depressant… this behavior will improve their affect.
  • Example of emotions and thoughts (relational) – Helping a couple or a family to successfully communicate and interact with each other will increase the feelings of security and attachment in the relevant individuals. Healthy attachments (which are relationships in which people are safe and supported when they are authentically emotionally vulnerable and available) are necessary for emotional wellness. Therefor changing the interaction behaviors between people helps their emotions. Incidentally it will also change the stories that the people tell themselves and others about their relationships… this changes the way they think about their relationships… positive thoughts produce positive emotions.

Changing Thoughts – there is a famous quote that many people have taken credit for (Thereau is where I got it) – “I have suffered much in my life… and most of it never happened.” We create our own suffering by ruminating on negative thoughts. The “what if” or the “I should have” thoughts are perhaps the most damaging. If you can interrupt these useless and often irrational thoughts you will not have to feel the negative emotions associated with those thoughts.

How to change thoughts – there are four main ways to change thoughts: reflection, disputing irrational thoughts, being mindful or focusing your attention on the present moment, and intentionally thinking about positive thoughts or new ways of narrating your lived experience.

  • Example of disputing irrational beliefs – If you think “I will never be able to do this task” you will feel hopeless and despondent and will be unlikely to engage in the behaviors necessary to complete the task. Never is ironically almost never true… If you dispute this negative cognition and replace it with a new one such as “I can complete these steps which will lead me towards being able to complete the task.” You will feel more hopeful and will be more likely to engage in the desired behaviors.
  • Example of reflections – when we think of something such as a past event our minds immediately begins to pass automatic judgments. These automatic judgments often result in automatic behaviors and always result in automatic emotions. Reflection is when you think about your thinking… the idea is to do your best to avoid judging the thoughts… judgments will inevitably arrive in which case you curiously observe the judgments. When reflection is well developed the person has the ability to calmly sit with curiosity about the automatic thought which popped into their head… in this state of curiosity they interrupt the automatic behaviors and often can positively impact the automatic emotions by reducing the degree to which they are consuming.
  • Example of reflecting on emotions – the mind makes up thoughts to explain the way a person is feeling. By reflecting on emotions a person is free to watch the automatic thoughts and then to change them if they are inaccurate. For example after seeing a rattle snake on a trail a person’s rapid heart beat might convince them that they are agitated with their hiking partner… upon reflection they find that they are simply still holding fear from the experience with the snake… this reflective ability will help the person to behave better towards their friend. People who are hungry often conclude that people in their environment are annoying… upon reflection they would find that the annoyance is internal and can’t be resolved by the behaviors of the people around him/her.
  • Mindfulness and living in the present moment – Mindfulness is a state in which you are a open-minded curious observer of the present moment. You look at the world as if you have never see it before… you allow your senses to interact with the environment as if it were novel and you had no knowledge of it. The past, the future, judgments, knowledge, projections etc. are calmly noticed and the person gently pulls their attention back to the present when such things arise. Most of our suffering is in the past or the future “what if…” or “I should have…”. by allowing your thought processes to stay in the present you reduce suffering while holding the euphoria of the moment.
  • Example of Creating new stories or intentionally focusing on positives and/or solutions – Our reality is our perceptions… no one perceives reality as it actually is… reality is perceived through our minds various filters. How can two people engage in exactly the same experience and have opposite thoughts and feelings about that experience? Often people in relationships get caught up in repeating the negative stories they have… or they continually think to themselves about all the problems which exist. Intentionally focusing on the positive narratives and on all the solutions available will encourage people to feel more hopeful and to engage in more relationship healing behaviors.
  • Gratitude – Almost all religions encourage the practice of intentionally contemplating that which you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude allows a person to live within positive thoughts… this produces positive and hope inspiring emotions.

Allowing Emotions – Emotions are changed by allowing them to be expressed in a safe and supportive environment. I am hesitant to say “changing emotions” as this is often a counterproductive intention. The paradox is that by allowing sadness you allow happiness to return. It is not changing sadness or avoiding sadness which facilitates wellness… instead the process of allowing and accepting frees us from the burden of unwanted emotions… what you resist will infinitely persist.

How you allow emotions – For authentic emotions to free themselves from a person it is best to create a space of acceptance, supportiveness, understanding, empathy, and safety. This means that while a person courageously shares their emotional experience the listener focuses on understanding the felt experience of the narrator while gently offering short reflections of emotional content to display their attentiveness and understanding… things for the listener to avoid are: projecting your own emotions on the story, trying to ‘fix it’ with behavioral suggestions, pulling the attention away from the speaker, passing judgments, disputing the validity or ration of the story, and withdrawing or avoiding full attention.

Trapped emotions impact behaviors – Often when an emotion is trapped and unattended to in the body a person will engage in behaviors to try and remedy their emotional discomfort. Addictions such as alcoholism are often a way to heal a person. There are many techniques that people use to escape reality… generally the reality that they are trying to escape is the somatic experience of an unresolved emotion. Expression of this emotion can relieve the need to escape… this can change unwanted behaviors.

Emotions and secondary emotions with undesirable behaviors – We have unfortunately not been very supportive in letting males have a full and authentic emotional life experience. Males (and females – more now than before perhaps) are systematically trained to believe that ration = maturity and emotions = immaturity or weakness. As such many people have “anger problems” do largely to emotional immaturity – they are unable to articulate to themselves or others how they are truly feeling. Males in particular are known for articulating two emotions – “I am Angry” and “I am frustrated”. This inability to isolate the true felt experience leads to an exaggeration of the angry and frustrated feelings… often the male (or female) feels embarrassed, guilty, confused, insecure, sad, lonely etc… but these emotions are unlikely to be resolved if they are being labeled by the term ‘angry’. Allowing a space for people to have a richer emotional experience allows them the ability to express their authentic feelings… by doing so the person would have the ability to resolve the emotion. For example, if a person learns that they are ‘guilty’ as opposed to ‘frustrated’ this insight offers them a direction as to how they might overcome the unwanted emotion. Without the ability to know ones emotions are people often become automatons… automatically behaving while creating irrational thoughts to explain the emotional experience they are unable to comprehend… this confusion can create a terrifying feedback loop of explosiveness… violent “angry” people are often excessively lonely and sad.

Emotions and Existential struggles – as an emotion remains unresolved often people will unconsciously try to make meaning of an emotionally harmful experience by reenacting the scenarios which led to the unresolved emotions. For example, many people who have avoided allowing themselves to feel the emotions related to an abusive parent will later end up with a romantic partner who engages in the same emotionally abusive behaviors. By allowing these emotions to be authentically expressed the person can gain the insight needed to seek out emotionally validating people.

Emotions and Relationships – When a relationship allows space for the individuals to be authentically emotionally vulnerable and available a deeper sense of intimacy in created which affects the way the people think about their relationship. People in securely attached relationships (relationships with validating emotional expressiveness) think and feel more positive about themselves.

People behave differently when they feel emotionally authentic… and people behave differently towards people who validate their being emotionally authentic.


William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

Relationship feel stuck? Try pretending that you don’t know everything about your partner

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Did I actually use sarcasm in my title? The point here is that often the problems that arrive in a relationship are the result of people believing that they know everything that there is to know about their partner… conversations start getting stuck as you stop asking questions because you believe that you already know the answer… you get irritated with the way that your partner will surely react though you don’t give them the opportunity to actually show you how they would react… these are just two of a great multitude of examples.

So what is the solution… pretend that you don’t know your partner at all… the more that you can honestly engage in this suggestion the more you will find that you actually don’t know your partner as well as you thought (in a good way).

The simple truth is that most of us don’t really know exactly who we are… so to believe that we have another person more figured out than our selves seems a bit off…

People change… they gain new interests, opinions, desires, neurosis, abilities etc… your partner has changed quite a bit as well.

So offer your partner some curiosity… some interest… some unbiased attention.

What does your partner really think about this that or the other thing?

The unknown is exciting, invigorating, and enticing… you unwittingly decided to remove this wonderful descriptor from your partner… you labeled him/her as understood… as quantified.

Nothing is for certain… chaos is a constant…

Commonly we allow the results of chaos to torment us and send us into cyclones of confusion, but rarely to we allow ourselves to revel in the bliss of uncertainty… life is unpredictable and that is wonderful…

Your partner’s growth through life is unpredictable and this is wonderful as well.

There is nothing worse than boring… boring is a state that arises when we enslave ourselves into believing that everything can be known and understood… it can’t.

Many of the problems facing relationships today stem from the fact that we have made our relationships boring by colluding with the ideas of the rational parts of our minds… we ‘know’ what our partner looks like, we know what she smells like, we know what she thinks, we know what she wants…

Wants, thoughts, looks, smells etc are never the same from one minute to the next… everything is subtly influenced and changed by everything in every transpiring moment… my face is quantifiably different than when I started typing this… I have a different opinion about this blog post than when I started…

Look at the features of your partner… stare with loving curiosity at the intricacy of his/her tangibleness… notice the lines, curves, colors, dots, spots, bumps, hills, hairs that your rational mind walks briskly by…

You thought once that you knew your partner… but that was a moment now past… know her/him again in this moment… love all over again.

What color are your partners eyes?

Depends on the moment right?

They are millions of colors.

If you pretend long enough perhaps you will find the enlightened message that you don’t actually know anything… and life is significantly happier when everything is novel.

Curiosity is exciting… allow yourself to stop pretending that your have yourself or your partner figured out… you don’t have to… it is your choice…

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

Weight loss – what does that food mean to you? Insight, reflection, and replacement in achieving weight loss goals.

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Quick summary: I will discuss why certain foods seem or feel impossible to give up and offer a brief suggestion as to what you can do to overcome such an obstacle. Food (as with many other things in life) often has a symbolic importance which is more influential or otherwise important that the simple tangible object that it seems to be.

 

The theory is that insight into the unconscious drives related to a food can liberate a person to address those drives and the person therefore gains a degree of power over the automatic impulses related to that food.

 

Insight by itself in no way solves a problem related to eating unhealthy foods… in fact some research is suggesting that certain people are less likely to make a healthy food decision when nutritional information is offered to them in an attempt to encourage a more healthy choice.

 

  • the researches who found such evidence have suggested that our drive towards freewill trumps our desire to make the most intelligent or healthy decision… in short, when we are told to eat something because it is healthy, we often don’t want to comply simply because we perceive someone else as telling us what to do… we are more concerned with choosing our behavior than in taking suggestions which are in our best interest.

 

Insight into unconscious drives frees a person from a degree of automaticity.

  • An ability to reflect on an impulse is created thereby giving a person an opportunity to choose what behavior they will engage in. For many people insight into an impulse does not dissuade them from succumbing to the impulse.

 

What if you could find a more healthy replacement behavior to satiate the burning drive of that impulse?

 

Exercise to find insight about the hidden drives of the ‘impossible to give up’ food

 

Firstly I want you to list a food that you can hardly imagine not eating.

 

Symbolism – What does this food mean to you?

 

History – what is your history with this food?

 

Feeling – what is the desired feeling that you want to experience while eating this food?

 

Cognitive – what are some of the reasons that you tell yourself that encourage you to eat this food?

 

Importance – what are all the reason why you do not want to give up this food?

To reduce the amount of willpower that it will take to restrain yourself from this food it would be in your best interest to find a replacement means of attaining the above variables.

 

  • Example, if you are trying to feel that lazy, satiated, completely satisfied feeling is there another way of accomplishing this?
  • – for many people eating comfort foods is a way of attaining feeling similar to those acquired in a healthy adult sexual relationship.

 

With insight about the above variables you can free yourself to make appropriate decisions on a moment-by-moment basis.

 

  • Example, if your cognitive reason for eating the food is “that it doesn’t taste good without out it” ask yourself if this is always true or if it is more true in certain situations than in others.
  • – if you absolutely love cheese on your burger ask yourself if you would even taste the cheese if you already are getting three other toppings.

 

Make a decision before the impulse is present to avoid having to make a difficult choice when the food is begging for you to comply with its demands to be eaten.

 

  • Example, if there is a certain food that has a lot of meaning to you and your family then choose the best times to indulge and choose times where it is not necessary to indulge.
  • If you and your family love a huge greasy slice of lasagna have it when someone that knows how to make it is going to be serving it and make the decision to avoid it at cheep chain American restaurants.

 

“Do I really want this food or do I actually want something that this food is symbolic of?”

 

  • Example, sometimes it is best to find the symbolic importance of the food and meet your needs another way.
  • – if you associate eating BBQ with your father who you have not seen in a while perhaps sometimes it would be better to call your father than to over-indulge in BBQ.
  • – If you are longing to feel young again and eating pizza makes your feel young perhaps there is another way for you to achieve such a feeling.

 

 

The Best plan is moderation and not abstinence… giving up your favorite ‘not so healthy’ food is unnecessary and incredibly difficult…

 

How can you enjoy the food with more moderation and still meet the above needs adequately?

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.