Overdoing it: Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

admin Emotional Health, Therapy Leave a Comment

Let’s talk about overdoing it, Specifically, overeating, but this could be about overdoing it with anything or any unhealthy coping mechanisms. Any bad habit, or something you feel like you don’t have control over- smoking, drinking, shopping. Whatever it may be, this applies to it.

I am using food as a primary example because that is what I hear about most.

Unhealthy coping mechanisms are a way to soothe. Typically, the feeling of neediness. Neediness is an emotion a lot of people have trouble with because they associate it with being childish or clingy or something else negative.

The problem with the holidays is, it emphasizes so much giving, giving, giving to everybody else. The way it is portrayed in the media is if you give, give, give people are just going to give back and be happy. Or you’re going to make them happy, thus, make you happy.

While that sounds good, there are a lot of people who build all of their relationships in that style. What happens is, someone doesn’t give back, or sometimes the happiness you give others isn’t enough.

The emotionally healthy way is to fulfill all of your needs first, then give to somebody else. That’s where people get tangled up because they believe it to be selfish, lazy, or mean. Thus, the whole put your oxygen mask on first, saying, on every airplane you’re on.

Let’s talk about oral satisfaction. Think about how you have the neediness problem, and how you cover it up by overindulging. As a child, it’s soothing to put something in our mouths. As we get older, we want soothing by talking about it, engaging in hobbies, or putting up boundaries. We should be maturing from an oral satisfaction to a more mature way of coping with neediness.

If you have trouble with unhealthy coping mechanisms where you’re consuming too much, instead, try soothing yourself by talking about it, engaging in hobbies, or putting up boundaries.

It’s important first to understand that any habit takes a long time to change. Don’t put the pressure on yourself that you’re going to change this right away. Give yourself space and time to learn what’s behind the overdoing it. This is the first step. To change any bothersome behavior or bad habit, you’ll first want to understand where it’s coming from.

Next, start a journal with the expectation that each week, you do something different.

For the first week, start your day by filling all of your needs first. You do this by doing everything you need to do, and by putting everyone else last. Then switch back to your old way for a week. Then go back to filling your needs first and then others the following week. Alternate like this and watch what you’re eating each week. Record it in the food journal and see which one works better for you. You may have solved the pattern right there with that habit alone.

If you need any help or have any questions, give us a call at 757-340-8800.

For more on this topic, go to www.drldabney.com.

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