Stop fear sabotaging your journey
Change = fear.
Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and even a very real fear of success. You probably experience this in all kinds of places and situations every day – but one place it can really have a huge impact is when you’re trying to stop overeating.
However, you can stop fear sabotaging you.
Where’s the fear?
Fear comes from anywhere – usually because you just don’t know what the outcome of a change will really be. Fear sneaks in a fills all those gaps of ‘what will happen’ with some awful worst case scenarios.
The changes and parts of yourself you have to explore to start healing emotional eating can also be very scary.
The feelings you’re using food to deal with are obviously not fun – that’s why you’re protecting yourself from them. So any journey into that side of yourself is, quite rightly, going to be full of fear.
Dr. Cindy Nour (a clinical psychologist) said this perfectly “… your immediate reaction is to see a threat in anything that’s different to what you’re used to. So, you tend to stick with what you know, even if it is not serving you well.”
For example, I had a friend in college who built a huge part of who she was socially around her intense love of chocolate. It was like this identity as ‘fun girl who loves chocolate more than anything’ made her emotional eating into something that was ok.
And it was – until it didn’t work for her anymore, and then she had to face the very real question of “Who am I if I’m not ‘chocolate girl’?”
She struggled with this question and her ability to change and heal was stalled until she was able to re-imagine herself and come to terms with who else she could be (and that people would still love her as this new person).
The same can be true for your healing journey
– especially if you’ve been on it for a while.
It can become a part of who you see yourself as. You may actually fear reaching your goal, because who are you if you’re not an emotional eater? Who are you if you love your body? Who are you without your struggle?
This is hugely challenging, and none of these fears are silly or inconsequential.
What’s more, the human mind is incredibly tricky when it comes to dealing with fear. It has all kinds of totally legit-seeming ways it gets out of a fear state and into the way more comfortable state know as ‘business as usual’.
These slippery brain tricks might look like:
- Resistance to change (excuses, now’s not the right time, I’m too busy, I can’t afford it because I just spent all my money on these new shoes…)
- Giving up or constantly changing plans because what you’re doing ‘isn’t working’ (after, like, a week)
- Not getting started in the first place
- Keeping your goals a secret so you can give up without anyone knowing
- Telling yourself that “I love myself as I am, wanting this change is wrong”
And this makes sense…
All these behaviors will make total sense to you in that moment. They will seem like the most reasonable, obvious, and logical things in the world – like, of course you shouldn’t start or keep going with this change!
But, I’ll bet that in a few days to a week, when you find yourself once again eating your emotions, you’ll wonder “What is wrong with me?! Why can’t I stick to anything?!”.
Well, it’s not just you, it’s not your willpower, and it’s certainly not something unique or wrong with you. You’re body and brain are just doing their best to protect you… it’s really just misguided self-love.
Which leads us to the 5 brave ways to stop fear sabotaging your journey to happy, healthy, eating you love.
5 brave ways to stop fear sabotaging your journey
1. Find your fear and befriend it.
Your fear is really doing it’s best to look after you. It’s working to make sure you stay alive – and any threatening situation could be dangerous, so, fear. It’s not fear’s fault that it’s being counterproductive or ruining your goals.
It really is trying it’s hardest for you, so hating it isn’t going to work. Instead be on the lookout for where fear is operating in your self-talk, reasoning, and behavior.
When you do find some – don’t feel ashamed or weak – thank it for being there. It’s you looking out for you. Firmly, but gently, tell the fear “thank you, but I’m ok. I appreciate your concern, but this is safe and I’m going to do it”.
It’ll take time for this message to sink in, but by addressing your fear directly, and as a friend, you can start to move through it and out the other side.
2. Re-plan your goals
Sometimes you just set goals that are too big and create too much fear. Big goals are cool, but if you break them down into smaller goals that will eventually add up to the bigger outcome, your fears will be reduced too and everything will just feel so much more manageable.
So, take out a notepad and think about your goals. What smaller steps and goals can you aim for that will add up to that outcome? Focus on those instead.
3. Take baby steps
When you have your smaller goals, break them down even further into baby action steps. Like, what small actions can you take each day, that fit well into your life, that will start you down the path you want to go down?
With baby steps, fear will be hugely reduced, and you can quietly show yourself that this new path is safe. It builds security and momentum to get you through the times when fear does decide to come on strong.
4. Author your story
The fear you feel stems from the stories you tell yourself about your life, self, and world. They might be stories you’ve learned from others or ones you’ve constructed yourself through your experiences.
For example, you maybe tried to do something new as a child and weren’t very good at it. Maybe you got laughed at and teased and felt like a huge failure, and that no one liked you. Now, as an adult, you logically know that’s not true… but the quiet story going on in your emotions is that if you try something difficult (like changing your eating) and don’t succeed, then you’ll feel awful, be rejected, and have ‘failed’.
The cool thing is: this isn’t real.
It’s a story, and as the author of that story, you have the power to change it.
I suggest grabbing a pen and paper (or google doc) and writing down what you think will happen to you – physically and emotionally – if what you fear actually happened. Look for the story there. When you’ve got it, actively re-write it.
Using the example above, I’d write:
“If I try this new way of eating and fail, I’m afraid that I’ll feel really awful and that I won’t be worth knowing. I’m afraid people will find out I failed and think I’m weak and not want to be my friend anymore.
But. I realize this is a story and I’m going to go with a different version:
If I try this and fail, I’ll be one step closer to success. I’ll know one thing that doesn’t work for me and I’ll feel proud that I had the guts to give it a try. I can share what I’ve learned with others and that will help them, too. People will admire me for trying something hard, and will support me when I try again.”
Here’s a worksheet you can use to practice being the author of your fear story – just click on it to open the PDF.
5. Know that whatever comes, you’ve got this. Imagine the worst case scenario and how you’d handle it.
You do. You’ve got this. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Once you know what you fear, and can imagine that take to it’s fullest degree of awfulness, imagine how you’d handle that situation. I’m sure you know that it’ll almost certainly never happen, but you now know that even if it does – you’ve got this AND you’ve got a plan for dealing with it.
Don’t let the fear steer
Understand and befriend your fear – by using these 5 brave ways to stop fear sabotaging your eating goals you are that much more prepared to truly evolve and heal in a happy, healthy way. You are not controlled by your eating or food, and don’t let your fear tell you otherwise!