What Drives Your Decisions?
If you want to simplify how you approach the struggle with food and body as well as recovery, take a look at your decisions. You need to become aware of the micro-decisions you make daily. You also need to discover what drives your decisions in the first place, because only then can you start to make different decisions and move away from the patterned behaviors and beliefs that fuel your struggle with food and body.
Are you making decisions out of fear?
Most of us struggle with inadequacy, which stems from fear. This is why you constantly feel like you need to “prove yourself” or “fix yourself.” Our brains are rooted in survival, so it’s our default mode to be driven by fear. Think of how often you feel unsafe any given day. Maybe you feel unsafe in showing up as your full self with your partner. Maybe you feel unsafe with your circle of friends who are judgmental. Perhaps you feel unsafe when it comes to food and body.
For many of us, the struggle with body can far surpass physical discomfort and self-judgment, we can often feel viscerally unsafe in our bodies. Or maybe you lean more toward struggling with food, and not trusting yourself to make the right dietary decisions, which then has you living in a constant state of anxiety and overwhelm. Perhaps the thought of fighting food for the rest of your life registers as a form of danger in your mind. Our brains, although complex, can also be very simple. They equate fear to the potential of danger and death, which is human wiring that spans back to the caveman days.
You can work with your brain to learn how to operate differently and make your decisions from a space other than fear.
There is a reason why one of the biggest tools to recovering from disordered eating and body image issues is presence. The more aware you are of what you’re doing and, more importantly, why you’re doing it, the easier it will be to learn how to shift your patterns and decision making. The key to this awareness is presence and being grounded in your body in the moment, particularly when you are making a decision around food and body.
Pay attention to how your brain is working, and work with it, not against it. Become more aware of your beliefs and the underlying fears that drive your decisions. Are you eating that ice cream because it will make you feel good, or because you had an awful day at work, you’re anxious to return to the office tomorrow, and you just want to numb that anxiety?
You can hack your way to recovery and happiness through training your brain, system, and body to operate outside of fear. One way to do this is through energetic work. Instead of coming from logic and looking for evidence, focus on your beliefs and being. You first need to be the very thing that you want to experience. So in the case of turning to ice cream to suppress anxiety, instead of eating the ice cream, you could sit down, do some breathing to center yourself, and calm the anxiety you have around work without food.
Your decisions are less about what you’re doing and more about the intention and energetics behind why you’re doing it. It’s not about eating an entire pizza by yourself after getting into a fight with your partner, it’s about why you are driven to cope with relationship stress in that way. What are you really seeking? Are you avoiding something? Are you looking for an escape? Do you want instant gratification and to viscerally feel something different? Stop focusing on your behaviors, and look at the intention behind your behaviors.
When you change your inner inquiry, and practice awareness around your intentions and decision making, it completely changes how you operate, and therefore the decisions you make when it comes to food and body. For example, my inner inquiry always used to be, “How can I do more? What should I be doing right now?” That type of inquiry led me to frequently over exercise and cut out all foods except leafy greens. It also led to my diet depression. These days, however, my inner inquiry has shifted to: “How can I experience more love and gratitude in this moment?” Some moments, it’s by going for a walk on the beach. Some moments it’s by having an amazing dinner with my girlfriends. Changing your focus can change how you feel, which can in turn change your intentions and the decisions that you make.
Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to inner inquiries, intentions, and decision making around food and body:
- Gratitude: Focus on drawing from gratitude when it comes to making decisions. This was one of the first tools I implemented on my own journey to recovery. I guarantee if you take a few minutes each day to think of three reasons why you’re grateful for your body, it will completely change your relationship to your body and your life.
- Repetition: When it comes to making decisions that will help you overcome your struggle with food and body, repetition is everything. Get away from the “dabbling” mentality, which is often perpetuated by starting and stopping various fad diets. Stop splitting your focus, time, and energy to dabble in a bunch of different things. Instead, go all in on a few practices that can really change your life, and make them consistent.
- Self-love. Here’s the thing with self-love – it’s not about the doing, it’s about the being. It’s not staring at yourself in the mirror and repeating “I love you” a million times until you almost believe it, it’s about honoring yourself and your body. It’s about checking in with yourself on the daily, and making decisions from a place of wanting to take care of yourself and simply feel good.
Let your decisions, especially around food and body, be driven by inspired action rather than forced action. Force comes from fear and constantly trying to “fix” yourself, like trying every fad diet in existence. Inspired action stems from love, fulfillment, excitement, and curiosity, like going for a walk because you want to get out in nature. Start to cultivate awareness around why you are doing what you are doing, so that you can begin to make informed decisions around food and body that will help you overcome your struggles and live the life you’ve always wanted.
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