Today we looked at what food meant to us. To assist us in this we used the questions below as a guide;
- What is your favourite food and how does it make you feel?.
- Do you cope with your emotions by using foods? If yes, what kind of foods do you
consume at such a time?
- Do you know what you are trying to fill? (FILLING A VOID E.g Feeling lonely/
disappointed or empty. SELF-MEDICATING)
- How do you feel after consuming food to cope with emotions?
- E.g. Guilty, know it is not good for my health….)
- Do you cope with emotions by not eating and by depriving yourself of food?
Is food your friend or foe?
- Do you know when you have had enough to eat and stop?
- How else might we listen to and cope with our emotional hunger?
Some people talked about pleasant associations with food in a nostalgic way, like family gatherings with sunday roast or mince and tatties. For others food has become a coping mechanism providing some comfort whether it be eating too much or too little. Of course, both over a period of time can be equally damaging to our health. If people feel they have no control in their lives this may be the one place they feel they do. Unlike others dependencies we cannot avoid food- so we need to be informed, relearn
our physical hunger because then we can trust ourselves to make good choices
and to attend to emotional hunger in other ways.
INTERESTING FOOD FACTS
Foodie Fact 1-
Do you know that some foods (like Pringles) are engineered to keep us eating and wanting
more and to ignore signals our brain is sending that we are full. Sugar, Salt, fat, additives,
combined in a snack/nibble or a sweet treat. Such foods actually light up the pleasure
centres in our brains as much as taking cocaine would! So neurologically we
become addicted to them and we ignore that we have had enough.
Foodie Fact 2-
If we consume lots of calorie dense foods which lack good nutrients such as; a
McDonalds, pizza or fish and chips our body might well be signalling it is starving and
needs more grub, because it is needing some vitamins and minerals not in fast foods. So
we want to eat more and often we will deride ourselves for being greedy or lacking will
Foodie Fact 3-
Food information is so confusing and conflicting it is hard to work out what we should be eating. So here’s what ‘experts’ agree on-
• Reduce or stop eating processed foods (white bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes & fast food.
• Eat your greens! Fruit and vegetables.
• Be loving and compassionate to yourself as you make some alterations. Start small
with little changes, over time they all add up.
Several years ago in the group we developed a safe card. This was a tool for people to draw on in moments that felt difficult, overwhelming or unmanageable. The idea is to fill it in when feeling in a more positive place. First of all in the group we thought about the types of situations where it may be helpful; times of crisis, or being very down and self-critical of oneself. Sometimes when we fall into a very negative place it can be hard in those moments to bring to mind a more positive outlook or a different possibility of how things might turn out. It may be that in those moments we can’t get there at all by ourselves so we might be reminded of someone we can go to who is able to remind us which is why there is a space for a supportive person’s number and crisis phone line numbers. The kind of things that the group knew to do to look after themselves were to go for a walk, eat something, exercise, talk to someone. People found quotes that were helpful to them too, that made them feel better, things that reminded them to embrace the vitality of life and that troubled times change and pass. People cited the serenity prayer:
We chatted about the value of acceptance of situations we can’t change rather than fighting against them, because we have power to change our feelings, thoughts and actions.
What we can also find sometimes too is that we have ‘paralysis in pursuit of perfection’ in that we don’t even try new things or new ways because they may not go perfectly but that’s ok!!
There seems to be a power of writing important reminders down and then sticking them up. Remember that our brains and thoughts default to the negative, and we need ways to remind ourselves of the other ways of thinking, a different story and other possible outcomes. So this is where a safe card can come in useful. We also chatted a bit about the last section of the safe card; a vision for the future. For some people this was about identifying and realising things they had maybe not put into words before, and others at different stages in life were ready to start looking for a new journey to find a new passion.
When you are feeling anxious it is so important to have strategies to cope. To this end using a safe card can provide a safety net to hold and ground you.
“I don’t see what others see in me”. This is a saying that we can hear a lot of in society throughout all walks of life. Is this a default position we go to or are there cultural reasons for it? Certainly here in Scotland and the rest of the U.K. there does seem to be more of a tendency to play down our strengths as to do otherwise could leave you feeling uncomfortable. Is there a fear that by acknowledging our strengths we may be seen by others as ‘getting too big for your boots’ or ‘playing your own trumpet’. Does finding the fine line between confidence and arrogance play a part in our fear? You only have to look at celebrities who are universally loved by people all over the world who also can struggle and use self-depreciating comments such as; “What if I get found out, and am not as good as people seem to think I am?” This may seem like a silly thing to say given all the evidence to the contrary, but it does show that they are only human and can have insecurities like anyone.
Group members shared their own experiences of how they found acknowledging their strengths. Some people actually felt that it would be much easier to list their short comings. We then did an exercise where we asked people to write down the strengths and qualities they saw in one other and pass it back to the person so they could see the qualities others saw in them. While people found it nice doing this they still found it a challenge to take in and believe what people saw in them.
Today’s subject felt very relevant as this group is very much based on helping people build up their sense of worth. The hope being that through doing this it can play a part in being able to acknowledge their strengths without totally dismissing them.
At today’s group we looked at the fear of failure. Although our fears come from a protective place they can ultimately leave us feeling stuck and unfulfilled in parts of our life. If you’ve suffered disappointments in life it feel such a risk to try something new and it not working out. To avoid these disappointing feelings people may decide it safer to stay in the situation they know. In this case the fear of failure can feel more powerful than the possibility of success. It can feel so scary to take that leap of faith into the unknown. Group members gave examples of how they overcame fears and how it became the making of them. The thing to remember is that even if you try something and it does not work out you can always try something else. This of course does not take away the feelings of disappointment but it certainly does not make you a failure. We are learning all the time, particularly in the hard times. If we think back to being a toddler and learning to walk we do fall at times but we get back up and gradually learn to walk. Below is an inspiring video of people who have faced disappointments but managed to keep on trying new things.
If you are interested in attending the group please contact us and we will put you on the waiting list with the hope being that you will not have to wait too long.
While preparing for our group programme in advance we are always mindful of the need to make sure it is finely balanced between light topics and others that are a bit heavier. After having a few deeper sessions it felt nice to mix it up today having a session on fun! It’s something that is so important for our well-being which sadly at times we can all too readily dismiss as un-important.
We did an exercise using spiritual cards and asked group members to choose a card that meant something to them. People found this useful as it provided an outlet to communicate how they felt. After this we played the card game adaption of the popular game show, ‘Catchphrase’. By the end of the game the scores between the two teams were fairly equal!
We finished with a look at what people’s favourite movies where and why. This evoked a discussion about the emotional attachment certain films held for people. Some of the films chosen were, ‘Cinema Paradiso’, ‘Kung Fu Panda’, ‘Back To The Future’, ‘Riding In Cars With Boys’, E.T., ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’, ‘Mary and Max’ and ‘The Godfather’ It was so nice to feel the passion and energy this brought to the conclusion of todays’ group!
We posed the question to people in the group as to whether receiving a mental health diagnosis had been a helpful experience. For those who had experienced a correct diagnosis and accessed the right treatment, this was extremely helpful as they could now understand what was happening and what to do to best look after themselves. For people where it had taken a bit of a journey to make a correct diagnosis, and where treatment for a condition which was not theirs was given, this was unhelpful and distressing and in some cases caused more damage. We talked a little about the diagnosis of BPD-Borderline Personality Disorder, this is a bit of a controversial diagnosis; it suggests that there is something wrong with a person’s personality. Using the term ‘disorder’ can leave people feeling upset and stigmatised. The diagnosis is confusing and little understood; it is a clinical diagnosis based on a collection of symptoms, which are often parallel to the effects of trauma. However, it is not an actual defined disease or condition, more possibly a reaction to adverse life events, and therefore not a permanent condition or state of being.
We talked a bit more about how people sometimes felt stigmatised or defined by some of the words used to describe some mental health conditions:
People felt that some of these were quite descriptive, sometimes in an unhelpful way leading to assumptions and stigma and a lack of understanding. Others felt that the not so descriptive terms could be helpful as they had experienced that if someone genuinely cared and was interested they would ask about the persons mental health condition in a way as to understand how it actually affected them.
Receiving a diagnosis can feel helpful and liberating for some while for others it may be another way of keeping stigma and unhelpful terms used in society alive.