“I can’t do it”- What do you do?

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I had an Ah-Ha moment the other day when my 3 yr old granddaughter was over. I had brought out this cute little “photocopier.” She had to insert the blank paper into the “machine,” which had a piece of carbon paper underneath. She then used the stylus to draw with, and when done, she had to eject the paper which had her drawing on it. 

My granddaughter brought the box to me, telling me she wanted the picture that was on the box to be drawn. I had encouraged her to give it a try, she barely started drawing when “I can’t” was spoken. She gave up and started pouting, which was her way to try to get me to do it for her. I gave her the little pep talk that just gives it a try as it takes practice.

What just happened had me thinking back to my childhood. I remember Math being so hard when I was young. I would sit and do my homework in the evenings crying. I remember saying, “I can’t,” and “It is too hard.” If felt crappy struggling. My mom tried to help me out, and if I kept on crying, then eventually she pretty much did it for me. I know she did that from a place of love because it bothered her to see me upset and struggling. She just wanted to make it better for me to console me. 

That thought “I can’t” felt like a fact most of my life. That thought was always in my my mind, and even though I was not aware of it being there, it held me back from doing so many things I wanted to do. I believed it was true, so I avoided trying out something new or sticking with it because that would have me feeling uncomfortable.

All of that avoiding discomfort lead to my emotional eating. It is so common for people to eat in response to distress because they don’t know how else to deal with it and food is the easy solution. The problem is it is only a short term solution. 

I now see that growing up, when things felt uncomfortable and scary, I looked to someone to make it feel better for me, more comfortable. I wanted them to figure it out and even solve it. Doing this took away the discomfort because then I didn’t have to deal with it, I didn’t have to be uncomfortable, it was on something or somebody else. But when there was no one to turn to food was the next option. Why not, because that was what was programmed into my brain and became my habit. My mom gave love and comfort with her baking, so why wouldn’t I comfort myself with food. Food was used to feel better with. 

Over 10 years ago, that was when I fully realized what I was doing. Actually, I think I knew before then, but I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I decided to take responsibility for my life and my weight. 

What happens is that our brain seeks out pleasure to avoid pain. No wonder I was Eating to avoid the pain and discomfort that I was feeling in my life. 

This is a problem because food only comforts us while we are eating. The habit you have created to avoid the pain is the painful part. We eat to feel better, the comfort only lasts until we stop eating. It doesn’t solve the problem and eating will most likely cause even more discomfort than you began with.

The realization that hit me was it was more painful and uncomfortable to continue emotional eating than the pleasure I got from the food. Using food as my comfort solution whenever I felt uncomfortable stopped me from losing weight because the truth is we never stop feeling uncomfortable in our life.

Eating to deal with discomfort was familiar and easy for me. My overeating was part of my comfort zone because that was more comfortable than dealing with the negative feeling coming up. 

So if I kept running to food every time I felt discomfort, nothing would ever change. What I had to learn was to feel all my emotions. To be willing to feel the discomfort that was there. 

Think about it, you can sit around watching TV all day eating junk food which right now feels comfortable to you. Doing this is not helping you to lose weight. So if you want to get that weight loss, you have to do something different, and different will be uncomfortable and scary. Doing that different will be so worth it in the end when you get to your goal weight. 

You have to step out of your comfort zone, into the discomfort zone to get closer to your goal.

The more you let yourself be uncomfortable and keep taking steps, the stronger and more skilled you will be in dealing with discomfort. Confidence comes from doing. You are proving to yourself that you got through that discomfort and survived will be what is needed to go through the next uncomfortable moment.

Just image if you allow yourself to be in discomfort, this will get you to the place where you spend more time feeling good to get to your goal. Stay with me on this one….

Each time you go through the hard and uncomfortable, it actually gets easier and easier to go through it again. That is because it is no longer as uncomfortable for you- it actually becomes your new comfort zone- crazy, hey!

What we need to realize is that uncomfortable IS part of life, it happens. We can’t have the feeling of easy or happy all the time.

We can not let discomfort stop us from doing what we are wanting to do. When you feel discomfort is when you allow it to be there and to feel uncomfortable no matter how what. Do not fight it, avoid it or numb it out.

If I had not been willing to feel uncomfortable and continued to believe “I can’t,” then I would never have retired from Nursing to follow my passion of coaching women. There were so many uncomfortable, difficult moments is starting a business, and if I had not kept on allowing that uncomfortable feeling to be there, I would not be in the place I am now. 

I also went through so many moments of discomfort when I wanted so bad to eat after a long stressful day but didn’t. I went through the discomfort of doubt, fear, etc. getting certified as a coach so I could coach even better.

Those urges to eat are so uncomfortable, and that is why we give in to them. At that moment when it is so intense it feels more comfortable to give in then to not, but if you want to stop this cycle, you have to be willing to be with that discomfort. In the beginning, it will feel so difficult, but each time you don’t give in, it will be easier and easier to allow that urge to be there and for you not to go eat. 

This is one of the best skills you can have and frequently work with my clients on. If you are ready to work more on the process or just want help in getting started, sign up for a Free mini-session here. 

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