3 Things We Dive Into In This Episode:
What to do when a negative or maladaptive thinking pattern that you thought you let go of comes back up.
Why relationships and other vulnerable experiences might cause us to lean into old habits.
Three powerful tools for breaking free from negative body image and other harmful thinking patterns based on my own recent experiences and experiences with clients.
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Whole, Full, And Alive Episodes:
We Can Do Hard Things Podcast with Glennon Doyle
[05:32] Resurfacing Negative Thoughts
I recently had some negative body image thoughts and dysmorphic views resurface.
I've been in full recovery for a decade, but sometimes my brain fixates on my body size when I feel vulnerable.
I want to share something raw, vulnerable, and real for this episode.
We need more honesty and vulnerability in the world. I want to share my support and insight as an imperfect, authentic human being.
[09:54] Wholeness With And Without a Partner
In Episode 1, I talked about the impact of my break-up last year and what it means to feel whole. How do we feel complete without all those external factors like a partner?
In August, I moved to Colorado feeling whole and at home with myself. I was finally in a place where I could pursue a relationship without losing my sense of wholeness.
I started a relationship with an amazing person. Unfortunately, he was ultimately unavailable in the way I needed from a relationship.
While on a trip, I finally realized that staying in this relationship stopped me from receiving the love and relationship I was ready for. I decided to stop our relationship.
While in that relationship, I realized I let myself become emotionally unavailable. It was my way of protecting myself from the possibility of getting hurt.
[20:12] Reframing Negative Thoughts as a Brain Response
A few hours later, I met someone in Lisbon who I fell in love with. Entering this new relationship meant stepping into vulnerability.
I have a history of an eating disorder and live in a body-preoccupied world. I also grew up surrounded by dieting women who were conscious about their body image.
In this relationship, I am afraid of abandonment. I didn’t want to lose this relationship.
My brain responded to this fear and vulnerability by defaulting to these negative thoughts about my body size. It was my brain’s way of finding safety amidst the vulnerability.
I didn't want to lose weight. What I wanted was to be able to have this relationship without feeling afraid and vulnerable.
Caitie: “My brain was like looking for safety, invulnerability. And I've had to acknowledge that and forgive that, and really give myself the space to explore what I actually need, which is not to lose weight or change anything about my body, and where I can actually find it.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[28:43] Stepping Into Vulnerability in Relationships
Pursuing a partnership or any relationship will open up a lot of vulnerabilities — even for healthy relationships.
Caitie: “We're wired for connection and that is when vulnerability usually emerges. Vulnerability emerges in relationships because we can't control other people.” - Click Here To Tweet This
We become vulnerable in relationships because we can’t control other people. They can come and go whenever they want. They can wound us with their words and actions.
Relationships may be the source of our greatest traumas, but they're also a source of healing.
Stepping into this relationship made me more vulnerable. I also hadn't been able to decompress and separate my thoughts from my client's negative thoughts.
I lapsed into my old negative thinking, but now I'm on the other side and feeling more confident and embodied.
[33:54] Tool # 1: Celebrate the Warning Lights
When we fall back into these old thinking patterns, don’t label it as a complete and total relapse.
A lapse is temporary. Reframing negative thoughts can help stop us from going back to unhealthy behaviors.
Celebrate that we’re still recovered and healed! At the same time, recognize that these thoughts are our brain’s warning lights telling us that we feel unsafe and vulnerable.
[36:45] Tool # 2: Reframing Negative Thoughts as a Safety Mechanism
Recognize how lapsing back into our old ways of thinking is a safety mechanism.
During my lapse, I talked to a close friend, a therapist. She shared how she still sometimes returns to her obsessive-compulsive way of thinking when she feels unsafe.
Have compassion for our brains. It's trying to make us feel safe using outdated strategies. Instead, list other things we can do to reach that sense of safety.
I sourced that safety from other people, including my friends, therapist, and partner. I slowed down and took baths to help repattern my brain.
The safety I needed came from other people, and that's okay.
[41:27] Tool # 3: Throw Away What Isn’t Yours
Identify what we are holding on to that isn’t ours. We might be lapsing because we’re holding on to other people’s negative thinking.
We must start reframing negative thoughts like this as things that aren't ours.
I recognized that I was absorbing thinking patterns from my clients and the people around me.
Write down all the things that aren’t yours. Rip it up and let them go.
[43:97] Reframing Negative Thoughts About Relationships
These lapses are likely to happen because of our relationships. Many of our greatest wounds and trauma come from our relationships.
We can get triggered by the challenges we face in a new relationship and become likely to have a lapse.
Be compassionate and forgive yourself. Recognize that you’re triggered because of an old wound or past trauma.
Let yourself heal by leaning into the vulnerability. Get the support you need to show your brain that relationships can be safe.
Caitie: “It's important to give yourself an opportunity to repattern and heal your brain by staying in the relationship and letting yourself lean into that vulnerability. Do what you can to get the support so that you can show your brain that relationships can be safe.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[45:48] Nourishment and Rest
Don’t neglect your body. You need nourishment, hydration, and sleep.
It can be hard to listen to your body during a lapse. Eat what you know is adequate to fuel you.
Don’t worry about getting fancy with your nutrition. Just make sure you’re giving yourself enough nourishment.
[47:49] Staying on the Edge
There are moments when you're on the edge. Sometimes you need comfort to take the edge off. However, this is also where you can grow and change.
Trust that what’s making you feel vulnerable will be a great catalyst for meaningful change in your life.
Many people flee from relationships because they don’t want to be on the edge. Our brains might be lapsing into outdated thinking because it wants to take the edge off.
Reframing negative thoughts about being on the edge helps us learn and grow.
Give yourself the tools, support, and at times, safety and comfort you need to process and grow.
Enjoyed the Podcast?
Whole, Full, and Alive is a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are — underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. Who is your authentic self?
Remember — your brain does its best to keep you safe, not happy. When you fall into old thinking patterns, it’s just your brain doing its best. Reframing negative thoughts you have as safety mechanisms or warning lights can help you stay whole, full, and alive.
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Caitie Corradino: I journaled quite a few times and one of the things I ended up writing in my journal after just kind of working through a lot of the muck was: You don't want to lose weight, Caitie. You just want to feel unafraid of abandonment.
Welcome to Whole, Full, and Alive, a podcast helping you break free from food anxiety, body dysmorphia, self doubt and hustling for your worth. I'm Caitie Corradino. I'm a registered dietician, nutritionist, a body image coach and the founder of Full Soul Nutrition. I use a unique combination of nutrition counseling, body image support, somatic breathwork, and holistic coaching. I've guided hundreds of clients to freedom with food, their bodies and every aspect of their lives. I've also been on this healing journey myself.
On this podcast, I share actionable tools, no bullshit stories and interviews that remind you why you have everything you need within you to feel whole, full and alive. So are you ready to eat with more confidence, embrace your body, create aligned relationships, and fall in love with your life? Let's get into it.
Hey, welcome back to another episode of Whole, Full, and Alive. I want to give you an invitation, as always, to take the absolute deepest breath you've taken all day today. When you feel ready, take a nice, deep breath in through your nose. Let it fill your body through the base of your spine. Hold it for a moment. And then take a nice, long, dramatic, big exhale all the way. Let's see that one more time, inhale for four, three, two — hold. And then nice, long, slow exhale for four, three, two, one.
If you've been listening to the show for a while, you know I love a good deep breath. I really do. And I hope that wherever you have to move throughout the rest of your day, you remember that you do always have access to that little shift, that power to transport oxygen a little bit more efficiently throughout your body, that power to just pause and regulate for a moment. Despite all of the things that are out of our control in a given day, we do always have the power to take a deep breath and the power to decide that it might actually work.
I think sometimes if we take a deep breath, we're kind of just like, “Okay, moving on.” Can you decide that maybe it'll work? Just be open to it. If you lengthen that exhale, especially you can regulate, you can find relief, you can find release. And if you need a little more support, then a deep breath before I dive into today's episode, I just want to remind you that all of the services I provide the one on one coaching and group coaching designed to help you break free from food anxiety, binge eating body dysmorphia, self-doubt, and burnout are available on my website fullsoulnutrition.com.
You can book a free 20 minute consultation just to talk a little bit more with me and see if it feels like a good fit for you. And you can also purchase my Whole Full and Alive Toolkit, which is a collection of journal prompts, actionable experiments, modules, all kinds of things that you can do to help you regulate your nervous system, eat intuitively, release body shame, and create a holistic self care routine that actually feels good and sustainable and authentic to you. So just a little plug if you're needing more than a deep breath today. But I do encourage you to lean into the power of that deep breath throughout the rest of your day today and maybe throughout the rest of this episode as you're listening.
And let me tell you as I dive into today's episode, I am feeling a little vulnerable already. I want to talk about something that I recently navigated my way through. On today's episode, I want to talk about what to do when the thinking pattern that you thought you let go of resurfaces. When I say this, I mean for a lot of my clients it's like what to do when you finally cultivated a sense of body peace or more positive body image and negative body image thoughts start to resurface.
Or anxious thoughts about foods start to resurface after you've really healed your relationship with food. Or, in other cases, maybe we're not talking about food and body. Maybe for you, it's, you thought you let go of anxious thoughts about something else, or just general negative thoughts about yourself or social anxiety and, you know, through therapy and through counseling and through different things like that you've really released it, but it starts to reemerge again, at some point in your life, what do you do, when you notice those thinking patterns start to re emerge again.
I'm feeling super inspired to talk about this today, because I actually had some negative body image thoughts resurface for me over the last couple of weeks. I think it's important to clarify that these negative body image thoughts did not result in me, engaging in eating disorder behaviors, I didn't start restricting food or engaging in compensatory exercise, or doing any of the eating disorder behaviors that I used to engage in when I was going through recovery myself ten years ago.
But I did have a lot of negative thoughts about my body and pretty dysmorphic views of my body start to reemerge over the last couple of weeks. And it was hard. I have been in recovery from my eating disorder fully recovered from my eating disorder for about a decade now. And sometimes, when I'm feeling really vulnerable, my brain starts to fixate on my body size again. And the body thoughts that I was having over the last couple of weeks, were particularly gnarly. A couple of weeks ago, I was looking in the mirror and I felt like I was like standing in a fire.
I was looking in the mirror and I felt just such a resurgence of body size, preoccupation, and body dysmorphia that just felt so hard. It felt so heavy. And it felt like oh my god, I can't believe this is happening again. I want to share the story of how I process this and I want to share the story of you know why this has happened to me because there is a pretty specific reason why this happened to me. I also want to provide you with tools that you can use for if this ever happens to you in relation to body or anything else. So same format as always.
As always, for my solo episodes that kind of tell a little story, speak for a little bit and then provide you with some actionable tools and sort of like a list format of some things that you can use in relation to the topic I'm speaking about. And so that's the agenda for today. Stick around, here we go.
Before I dive in, I do want to say that I feel like this episode is kind of signifying a little bit of a shift in the vibe of my podcast. I'm just feeling super called to get even more raw and just vulnerable on here and keep it super real. Because I just think that's what we need in this world. We need people to keep it real. We need people to be human beings. We don't need perfect robots talking on a podcast microphone, shouting at us telling us exactly what to do.
I think we need humans on microphones just being admittedly imperfect. And sharing from a vulnerable place and being honest, and sharing some support and some insights and some things they may have learned that might help the person on the other side. Like I just feel so many of us are starved for actual genuine human connection right now.
I feel like one of the ways that I can contribute to alleviating that challenge is to just be a human here. I have really been trying to be a human here from day one. I mean, my first episode was about my breakup and stuff like that. But I just want to keep it even more real. I really want to step into even more of an authentic human vibe. I hope that you'll give me some feedback on that and just help me understand what kind of vibe you want and how I can be more real with you. So let's dive in.
So as I just mentioned, episode one was about my breakup that I went through last year, a pretty significant breakup that made me really recontemplate like what it means to feel whole, what it means to feel like I am complete without another person without a job title without, you know, all these things that the world tells us that we're incomplete, without. I recorded that first episode about how to feel complete as you are now — especially if you're single, how to feel complete as you are now.
I shared some tools for how I built a home within myself. And I shared why it was essential for me to cultivate a sense of wholeness, like, what happened to my mental health when I was sourcing my sense of wholeness from something outside of me, which was my relationship. And that episode got really, really great feedback. And people still listened to that episode, and reached out to me about that episode. And I'm so grateful for it.
And also, I did get a really specific piece of feedback about that episode from a number of people, a handful of people, at least like four or five, who said, okay, but like, what do you do when you do enter a relationship, and you start to feel like, your sovereignty is like being impeded on.
So I did talk a lot in the episode about, you know, really cultivating a home within yourself. And feeling good as you are now, especially if you're single, and a few people who are not single reached out to me and said that they found the episode helpful in a lot of ways. And they also wanted me to expand on, like, how do you navigate the triggering dynamics of a relationship? Once you've got that sense of wholeness within yourself, how do you make sure that you don't slide into a partnership? And have that sense of wholeness threatened? And was like, hmm, good question. Good question. Valid question. I've been thinking about that, you know, since then.
This was like in August when the first person who gave me that feedback reached out. So I've been kind of thinking about it since then, and didn't want to, like, record an episode about it too quickly, because I didn't really feel ready to be a talking head about that topic.
And then I got back into relationship. And as it turns out, I've now had that experience of entering relationship and feeling like my sense of wholeness was being threatened a little bit. And one of the manifestations of that was the reemergence of these negative thoughts about my body. So you know what, let me just elaborate, let me just let me just get into it.
So I moved to Denver, Colorado in August. And when I moved to Denver, I was certainly feeling very much on top of the world, I felt really the most in alignment I had felt in a really, really long time. I felt like I had a really beautiful relationship with my business and my clients, a really nice relationship with my body, a really good sense of who I am. And a really just solid foundation in being a single, late 20s woman in the world. I felt like I didn't need a relationship and I finally got to a place where I'm like, okay, I can, I can desire a relationship and pursue one. And I can date from a place of really having self confidence and knowing who I am and not sliding into sourcing my wholeness from relationship.
Well, I started dating in Colorado, in like September, and though I gave myself an opportunity to date multiple people, many people I ended up kind of attaching and forming a relationship with one in particular, a really amazing human being who spent a lot of time with and learned a lot from however, I knew this from the start. He was ultimately unavailable to be in the type of relationship that I really desired and the type of relationship that I really needed. Like from the get go, I knew that as much as we formed a very honest, beautiful, deep connection that was lovely.
I knew that if I wanted to have the type of relationship where we could build a life together and the type of life that I wanted one where we would travel look considerable amount, and he would be able to come meet my family in New York City and just these different things that like I really wanted in a relationship. Like he was not going to be the person to give that to me, I guess I could share that.
One of the reasons is because he had an offspring. And another one of the reasons is because of his work. And so I knew ultimately, that this person was just logistically unavailable to me. And I was still seeing this person in mid-January when I left for a two month trip. I was still talking to this person throughout the first couple of weeks of my trip.
I got to a point where I was just like, huh, what am I doing? I am guarding myself from the very thing that I say I want, I'm guarding myself from the very type of relationship that I've said I want even though he is a good person, he is ultimately logistically unavailable to me.
We have a really nice connection, but he isn't consistently available, and he isn't able to show up for me in the ways that I desire. And there's a lot of reasons why this just legitimately I don't even want to go into it too much like this just legitimately cannot work out. And I actually, right now, by continuing to engage in this relationship, am sabotaging myself from receiving the type of love that I feel ready for, and the type of relationship that I feel ready for.
So I decided, while I was in Lisbon, that I really needed to stop talking to this person, because I was only sabotaging myself from receiving a really, truly logistically reciprocal relationship, equally committed relationship. End of the day, like, there was just ways that he was just like, not gonna be able to show up for me. And there was ways that I was not going to be able to show up for him.
There was just so many blocks to us making a relationship out of the connection. And I do think that there is a distinguish- something different between a connection and a relationship. And what we had was a really deep connection and a nice connection, but we couldn't really form a relationship from it.
And so I'm in Lisbon. I'm at a bar with a really good friend of mine just kind of sitting there, not super drunk or anything, just really hanging out at a bar and saying, “Hey, like, I just, I'm going to end this relationship with this person. And I'm going to actually claim what I really want, I think, because I feel like I am ultimately sabotaging myself right now.” This is like a spiritual sign from the universe story, by the way that's coming through right now I just feel like I want to tell this story. It's kind of like the sinking ship story around my first episode.
But basically, I'm sitting at a bar with my friend saying, You know what, I'm actually going to stop blocking myself from receiving the kind of relationship I want, I'm going to stop being with this ultimately unavailable person. And she was like, right on this is great. And at that moment, there was a gumball machine at the bar that was full of poems instead of gumballs. Full of poems instead of gumballs and my friends and I decided to, you know, put a euro in and get a poem from this gumball machine full of poems. And I swear this was fifteen seconds after I decided to stop being in this relationship with this unavailable person. I pulled a poem out of the gumball machine, and word for word the poem reads,
I want to love, love madly
love just to love, here and there and beyond
him over there and him right there and everybody
and not love anyone at all.
And I have the poem in my hands right now. It's like all crinkled up and gross now, but I realized like, oh, I have been, I've been emotionally unavailable by attaching to this ultimately unavailable person. I'm just like, yeah, let me just love him and him and him and not love anyone at all and like, not open myself up to the vulnerability of an actual relationship.
By being in this logistically, ultimately, unavailable relationship. I am just protecting myself from getting hurt again. And I need to actually go look for the thing that I say I want and open myself up to the possibility of getting hurt again, if I want to actually have the type of relationship that I'm looking for. Like I do want to have a marriage. I do want to- I have kids, I do want to have these things I'm, you know, nearing 30. It's, I mean, like, it's never too late. And also, I desire to have kids in my 30s.
So anyway, I realized in that moment in this bar in Lisbon, when I pulled this poem out of his gumball machine that I was like, well, I'm afraid to be vulnerable. But I'm going to do it, I'm going to actually look for a person who can actually give me what I'm looking for. And that might mean vulnerability. But okay, I guess I just got to do it. And so that I'm not just, you know, loving him, and him and him over there, and not loving anyone at all.
So a few hours later, literally, but maybe not even a few hours later, it's probably like an hour and a half later, I met someone out in Lisbon, who, you know, just to not give too many details about him. But who's someone I'm now in a relationship with.
Basically ended up meeting someone in Lisbon, who I fell in love with, I spent a lot of time with him. Afterwards, I- long story short, I stayed in Europe extra, to spend more time with this person. This person is, is here now in Colorado, and visiting me and I am making some life decisions and a lot of the decisions I'm making right now are heavily influenced by this person who I've entered a relationship with, because he's really beautiful. Our relationship, he actually is available to the type of relationship that I'm looking for. We have not only a connection, but also a desire to and availability to build an actual relationship.
However, upon entering this new partnership that is going really well in so many incredible ways. And the future that we're laying the foundation for is awesome. I, as expected, feel incredibly vulnerable. I've stepped into the vulnerability that I've literally been trying to avoid, and that I was continuing to avoid by being with someone who was ultimately unavailable to me. Now I've stepped into it. Now it's like, oh, shit, I actually, I actually am falling in love with someone and building an actual relationship with someone that you know, may or may not work out and I am vulnerable, as all fuck.
As someone with a history of an eating disorder, who also lives in a dieting and body preoccupied world, and who works part time in the fitness industry, and who comes from a lineage of women that constantly bashed their bodies in front of me throughout my childhood. My brain is defaulting to what was — not anymore, thankfully — was defaulting to thoughts about my body size, in an effort to try to protect me from experiencing the full range of vulnerability in this relationship.
I feel afraid of abandonment. I don't source my sense of wholeness or my sense of worthiness from my relationship status anymore. And I feel afraid to lose this relationship. I hate that feeling. I'm sure someone listening to this can also relate to just absolutely hating that feeling of fear of abandonment. I found myself over the last couple of weeks, just kind of shifting to oh, I need to change something about my body size, in order to feel better. When really what I actually want is to feel secure, to feel soothed, to feel unafraid of abandonment.
Our brains are wired to help us feel safe, not to help us feel happy. Please remember that. My brain, in an effort to source some semblance of safety in the murky vulnerability of this relationship, just like really defaulted to negative body image thoughts. Because I've been seeing way too many clients lately. So I've been exposed on a regular basis to people talking very negatively about their bodies.
And then I also like just all the things I just mentioned, right, I live in the dieting, weight-centric, body preoccupied world that we all live in. I work part time in the fitness industry. I was raised by dieters, and so like, my brain, when it just started to feel vulnerable, and unsafe, just went, like, let's focus on the body. Maybe if you lose weight, you're gonna feel better.
It was so frustrating to recognize that my brain was defaulting to this thinking pattern that I thought I had broken free from. I journaled quite a few times. And one of the things I ended up writing in my journal, after just kind of working through a lot of the muck was you don't want to lose weight, Caitie, you just want to feel unafraid of abandonment. And boy, is that the truth. I just want to be in this relationship and have the relationship that I've desired for my whole life without all of the murky vulnerability of it.
You know, this relationship for now — spoiler it might not be forever — is long distance. And so you know, we've been visiting each other regularly, but it's, relatively speaking, a long distance relationship. It's one of the first truly, fully, and completely safe relationships that I've been in. And it feels like there's just like more on the line than there's ever been before. And instead of just letting myself cook in the discomfort of that, my brain was just like, lapsing into thoughts about my body in an effort to feel safe.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have had to accept that these negative thoughts about my body don't mean that I'm completely relapsing into my eating disorder. Obviously, I'm not because I haven't engaged in any eating disorder behaviors. And it doesn't mean that I'm completely relapsing into like body dysmorphia, or anything like that, either. It's just that my brain was like looking for safety, in vulnerability. I've had to acknowledge that and forgive that, and really give myself the space to explore like, what I actually need, which is not to lose weight, or change anything about my body, and where I can actually find it.
So, in a way, I'm feeling like I'm kind of responding to some of these people who reached out to me about episode one and said, okay, yeah, you can source a sense of wholeness from within yourself, but what about when you get in a relationship? Like, what do you do with the triggers that come up in relationship that, you know, kind of threaten your self esteem? I think it's important to say that if we desire partnership, and we pursue partnership, there's going to be a ton of vulnerabilities that come up even in a healthy relationship.
Even if we don't pursue partnership, we're gonna enter a relationship with other people, because that is one of the most fulfilling and healthy and wonderful and valuable things that we can possibly have is relationship with other people, right? We're wired for connection. And that is when vulnerability usually emerges.
Vulnerability emerges in relationships because we can't control other people. We don't have the same agency over other people that we have over ourselves. We can heal so much within ourselves, we can take so many actions, we can do so many things and we will never be able to control other people. Other people are free to leave as they please. They are free to come as they please. Other people are usually the source of some of our greatest wounds as well. When we've experienced certain wounding from other people in our lives, it's really easy to enter another relationship with the fear that that wound is going to occur again, certainly.
You know, we have to enter a relationship, right, because relationships may be some of the source of our greatest traumas, but they're also how we heal and how we repattern our brain. However, it does feel so vulnerable to just put yourself out there and take the risk, kind of relating to my last little episode of being in a relationship.
So I understand why I was trying to avoid this, can see why I was trying to avoid the very thing I said I wanted by being in a relationship with an ultimately, logistically unavailable man for a few months. And the split second that I made that decision to let go of that I was actually introduced to someone who is available and is ready and loves me deeply and is making sacrifices for me already. Sacrifices sounds very dramatic, but is choosing me — someone who is choosing me, which is amazing.
I am recognizing that I still have so much wounding and so much of my own shit around being in relationship and trusting someone and trusting that that love could stay. So when challenges have emerged between me and my new partner, it's triggered me. It's made me think, okay, here's a challenge, this is where it ends. I feel so vulnerable in the midst of certain challenges, because, yeah, I just, I've just been triggered multiple times in this relationship. Let me summarize it that way, I've been triggered multiple times. My brain's response to the trigger, was to kind of fixate on my body for a little bit. Again, that's because I have a history of ED, because I live in a dining world because the world is body preoccupied.
So that's what my brain sees and thinks, oh, this is how you source safety, it's by losing weight. Because I see clients all day, and help them with their body image stuff, so, of course, if I don't take the time, the appropriate time to decompress, I'm going to absorb some stuff from clients. I just didn't take enough time to decompress over the last couple of weeks and really separate and take care of myself and separate my thoughts from my client's thoughts.
I'm always telling my clients to take out the trash at the end of the day. If they spend a lot of time around people who are talking negatively about their bodies and restricting food, they've got to take time, at the end of the day to decompress and take out the trash and separate what belongs to other people and notice what belongs to them, take other people's shit out of their backpack.
I didn't give myself enough time in late March, early April, to take out the trash, to take other people's stuff out of my backpack. That is my own fault. That was just me really trying to grind in preparation for — spoiler! — a move. I didn't take enough time and my brain just automatically resorted to negative thoughts about my body and I had a lapse in terms of body image, and it was hard. I'm on the other side of it now. I am here. I'm good. I'm feeling embodied. I'm feeling confident and I'm feeling like I'm not looking at my body in a dysmorphic way in the mirror anymore, and I'm thankful.
So to wrap this episode up, I want to share tools. If you're finding this happening to you, what do you do if this pattern is a pattern that you thought you let go of re-emerges? Tool number one, resist the urge to label the reemergence of that pattern as a total downfall, or a complete and total relapse into the old pattern. I think you'll notice that I've been using the word lapse a lot rather than relapse and that's because they are different lapses, more of a blip and a relapse is more of a pattern is completely back to stay. It's the ultimate automatic thought like you're back in it and you really need to do full healing work to get back out.
A lapse has more of a temporary nature to it. I think that if you have done a lot of work, first of all a relapse, a total relapse is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of ever that does happen and also if you are someone who has done a lot of healing work, and you really released a pattern through therapy through alternative healing modalities through multiple ways of taking care of yourself and empowering yourself, and you just noticed that some automatic thoughts pop up, you can recognize that it's not, it's important to recognize that it's not a total downfall.
If you're not engaging in actions, based on the thoughts, right, if you're not diving into this crazy restrictive diet, as a result of negative thoughts about your body, it's important to celebrate that. Celebrate that you are still recovered, and you're healed and you're just having some automatic negative thoughts. Learn how to hold paradoxes. Celebrate yourself for not engaging in the old destructive tools that you used to engage in. Recognize that these automatic thoughts coming up are your brand's way of telling you that you're feeling unsafe or vulnerable in some way. And you need something to feel safe again.
So that's tool number one. It’s just resist the urge to label it as like total downfall and shame spiral yourself, you know, say, okay, I'm having these automatic negative thoughts, these automatic negative thoughts are reemerging. I must be feeling unsafe in some way. What do I need to get myself back to safety? Hold space for paradoxes. I'm recovered, and my brain has kind of flashing these warning lights of automatic, negative thoughts.
Number two is recognize how is this a safety mechanism? You know, why are these automatic negative thoughts that I'm lapsing back into, why is this old way of thinking that I'm lapsing back into a safety mechanism?
I was speaking to a friend about my lapse in the moment that it was occurring. And I'm so lucky to have so many close friends that are literally therapists. Because, you know, I'm not taking advantage of them, but I do really appreciate them in these moments. And I said, I told my friend what was happening. And she says to me, “You know, I have the most compassion for people's safety mechanisms.” And I was like, “What do you mean?” She was like, “Well, I'm literally a therapist. But sometimes when I'm feeling like, unsafe, my brain defaults to like, obsessive compulsive ways of thinking, like, my brain automatically goes back to obsessive compulsive thoughts about like, turning the stove off, and cleanliness.” And these are things that my friend struggles with.
It's like, our brain defaults to our outdated survival strategies. I think that's an important way to look at this. Have compassion, for the fact that your brain is just kind of defaulting to a survival strategy to try to feel safe. But that survival strategy is outdated. And maybe it used to make you feel safe, but you recognize that it was destructive and harmful, and you healed from it. And now your brain is trying to go back to it. But it's an outdated survival strategy.
So as you are recognizing the ways in which lapsing into this old pattern is a safety mechanism, can you make up a list of other things that actually can help you source a sense of safety? For me, as much as it felt so hard, in the heat of the moment, to ask for support, I had to ask for support. I was able to source an incredible sense of safety from my friends, the one I'm talking about right now. I was able to source an incredible sense of safety from my therapist, who I actually had stopped meeting with for a little bit, because I was like, feeling good and fine. And then I just reached back out to her because I was like, yeah, there's something I talked about. I was able to source an incredible sense of safety, from slowing down, taking baths.
Anyone who listens to this podcast knows how I feel about taking baths. It's very superficial. And also it's not superficial at all. It's amazing. And I had to ask my partner for what I needed from him directly and explicitly in order to start to repattern my brain a little bit. And so a lot of this safety that I needed to source, I slowed down, I took baths, I took care of myself, and I went back to my self care practices, but a lot of the safety I needed was actually from other people. And that was just okay. That was just okay.
I didn't need other people to tell me that my body was fine, and that my body was valid, and that I didn't look bad, right, I needed other people to give me affirmation in different ways, and to just show up for me with consistency and reliability. And that is what ultimately creates safety, right? My brain thought it was looking for safety, in terms of validation about my body shape and size. But that's not really what I actually needed, I had to identify what I actually needed, and where I could actually find it.
I think I also realized that, because I've decided recently to move out of Denver, and maybe I'll talk about that on a different episode. I realized my sense of home was being threatened. And I realized, like, oof, like, I actually don't really have a home right now. Gotta get rid of a lot of my stuff, there's things about my physical home that just feel a little temporary. That was just like, not a sob story, right, it's a beautiful thing that I have the ability to move. Also, it was just something that felt a little unstable. So that's tool number two.
Tool number three, is to ask yourself, what is not mine, that I am holding on to. What is not mine, that I am holding on to? Is my brain resorting to this old way of thinking because I'm holding on to other people's shit. That was a really important part of this process for me was recognizing that I actually was kind of absorbing some stuff from my clients that I didn't need to be absorbing. And from friends, and from people I was spending time with at my part time fitness job and things like that, that like, just weren't mine, just body image thoughts that weren't mine. When you let yourself get really tired, you know, and I was letting myself get really tired, because I was working too much. I was waking up at 4am and going to sleep at just like way too late, I really was pulling like 20 hour days, my brain got tired.
Your brain acts more like a sponge when it's tired. When it's not rested, you're more likely to absorb other people's shit. And so when you find yourself relapsing into these old ways of thinking, can you ask yourself, Am I relapsing into this? Because my brain is absorbing other people's stuff like a sponge? And can I put down on paper what's not mine, and rip up that paper if it feels good. I did have to put all the things down on paper that were not mine, that I was absorbing, that I was picking up from other people. That is a super important part of this process.
Kind of on that note, the next tool that I want to share is recognizing that these lapses into old ways of thinking do happen largely because of relationships. I think I said this before, but relationships are the source of a lot of our greatest wounds. A lot of our greatest traumas happen in relationship with other people. I think all trauma happens in relationship in some way.
So when we get into new relationships, whether it's romantic or not, like we're triggered, we get triggered. And a triggered brain doesn't always think rationally. A triggered brain is likely to resort back to outdated survival strategies.
It is important to be compassionate with yourself, give yourself grace, and say, okay, I am probably triggered by this new relationship, even if it's a good one, in some way because of an old mood I've experienced. And because I am triggered into the feelings of an old wound, I might resort to my old thinking patterns. This new relationship I'm entering feels similar to my last one where I was very much hurt. And there's a lot of things that feel similar, relationship to relationship, especially romantic ones. And so there's things about this relationship that are reminding me of the last one. And so my brain is kind of like, not even the last one but two relationships ago, whatever doesn't matter, but my brain is like, ooh, this feels familiar. Maybe it's going to also end badly. Let me resort to my outdated survival strategies to try to feel safe.
I hope that makes sense. So it's important to give yourself an opportunity to repattern and heal your brain by staying in the relationship and letting yourself lean into that vulnerability and do what you can to get the support. So that you can show your brain that relationships can be safe. And that you can have healing experiences that repattern your brain from traumatic experiences. Know that this automatic thought process won't happen again, if you can heal that familiar wounding pattern. Hope that makes sense.
The last thing I want to say, and maybe this is obvious coming from a registered dietitian, holistic nutritionist body image coach, but fuel yourself. Fuel your body. Do not neglect your body. When your brain starts resorting back to old thinking patterns, you need nourishment. You need three meals a day. A meal includes carbs, proteins and fats, you need fuel, you need hydration, you need sleep, you need nourishment. Do not forget to nourish your body.
It can be really hard to listen to your body when your brain’s thinking anxious thoughts, because the gut-brain connection does frequently get disrupted when you're experiencing an anxious thought pattern. I know my gut-brain connection was disrupted. So this is a time to really lean into practical structure around your nutrition and wellness and just eat what you know is adequate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don't worry about trying to figure out what you're in the mood for and what you're craving and get super fancy with it.
I just had a very similar acai bowl with granola every morning for breakfast and a very similar omelet for lunch every day and a very similar sort of grain bowl for dinner every night because that was just, I knew my body needed enough food, my body needed enough water, my body needed enough rest, and you just have to get practical about these things sometimes.
Don't worry about getting fancy with your nutrition in these moments when your brain is resorting to an old thinking pattern, just give yourself enough nourishment in these times while that storm passes while you are kind of cooking in this discomfort.
On that note of cooking in the discomfort. What I mean by that is a giving yourself an opportunity to transform in the discomfort of vulnerability. I was listening to Glennon Doyle's podcast the other day. She said something along the lines of how alcohol when she was a drinker used to be the thing that kind of took the edge off. That's something that a lot of people say:I need a drink to take the edge off, right.
She was like, I'm thankful that I don't have that tool anymore, because I don't want to take my edge off. She's like the edge is often where I'm able to be moved towards change. The edge catalyzes change. The edge forces me to learn and grow and evolve. As much as we can't be in the edge all the time, there are moments when I'm feeling super vulnerable, just need to let myself feel comforted and cozy and watch an episode of Ted Lasso and eat a yummy meal and you know, my favorite dessert of like, dark chocolate.
There are moments when you do need to step out of the edge, because it's not sustainable to live in trigger all the time. There are moments when you've got to just give yourself the fuel that you need to be able to stay in the edge and trust that the thing that's triggering you or the thing that's making you feel vulnerable is going to teach you something, it's going to catalyze some meaningful change for you.
And that is why a lot of people flee from relationships, right? A lot of men in particular, as soon as they get uncomfortable. They don't allow themselves to learn from the discomfort, the inevitable discomfort that comes up from relationships, they flee. And, you know, my brain was like trying to take the edge off by fixating on my body instead of fixating on what was actually making me uncomfortable, which is the fact that I might lose this relationship that I found that I really, like, feel passionately about and don't want to lose, right?
Like, every time a challenge has come up in my relationship thus far, my brain has been like, I might lose this relationship, let me fixate on my body as a way to feel safe and take the edge off, instead of sitting in the discomfort of the fact that this relationship is conditional, and I might lose it and all relationships are conditional, right?
So notice that your brain resorting to an old way of thinking can be an outdated survival strategy, it can be a way of trying to take the edge off, but we need to be in the edge in order to learn and grow and live the life we desire and deserve. Give yourself the tools that you need to process, the support you need to process, the sense of safety and comfort that you need at times when the edge becomes too much.
Trust that a lapse back to an old way of thinking is not a complete relapse or downfall into the place that you were before. You've learned. You've grown. You're okay. And just because your brain is looking for safety doesn't mean that you aren't healed. It's just your brain doing its job of trying to keep you safe. You're just being human and not a robot and not a machine. And you can use the tools that are available to you to make it through that discomfort, that edge.
I hope that this episode resonates with you. I would love to hear your thoughts, your feedback, your musings, your questions. Let me know. Let me know what is coming up for you as you are listening to these thoughts, these ideas, this vulnerable story about my Lisbon love life.
I will see you back here in two weeks with a guest and I cannot wait to hear your thoughts. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a five star rating on iTunes. iTunes, do people say that? On Apple Podcasts, it’s not iTunes anymore. Apple Podcast or Spotify wherever you get your podcast.
Share this with someone who you might think it's helpful for and remember to have compassion for people's safety mechanisms. Have compassion for the ways that people just default to certain ways of thinking in order to try to make themselves feel safe. Some people it is other types of compulsive thoughts. It's not about their body. In other people its behaviors and we're just trying to regulate and survive the edge survive the trigger and we all just need a little love and a little support and a little human connection and healing and I realized I could talk forever so I'm gonna cut myself off here. Sorry to slide into my Jersey accent.
I hope that the rest of this day is exactly what you need it to be. Take care of yourself.