Imagine you’re at a social gathering and you walk into a party where you know a couple people but not many. As soon as you walk in the door you make a beeline to the bar and quickly down your first drink. You see the appetizers so you immediately head over and quickly start sampling them. It’s time for a second drink and then more food. You have a bit of tunnel vision and aren’t fully aware of what’s going on around you because all you can focus on is trying the different food options and getting a couple drinks in you to help you relax.
In a recent client session, she shared with me that this is typically how events go for her and she wasn’t quite sure why. She thought she lacked self-control and discipline and just really enjoyed having a drink and trying all the food. As we explored this further we identified that because she’s shy and more of an introvert it was uncomfortable for her to be in these social situations because there was a lot at risk:
She may be judged by others.
She may be an outcast.
She may not be liked.
She could be seen as not good enough.
And worst of all, she could end up alone!
This is a lot of tension and stress that builds up and creates an immense level of discomfort. This discomfort leads to zeroing in on the food and alcohol so we can numb out from the feelings we’re trying to avoid. Once my client could see and understand what happens at the events, it helped create a bit of relief knowing she wasn’t flawed and it wasn’t as simple as having more willpower and discipline.
So what can she do with this information?
By asking two simple questions, this client was able to identify what she really needs going into these types of events. The questions I asked were:
How do you want the evening to end?
What do you need going into the event to help you feel more comfortable?
By gaining clarity on how she wants the event to end she’s able to identify what she wants out of the event so she can show up in a way that will support that goal. When we aren’t clear on what we want out of the event we typically focus on the food and alcohol because it’s more comfortable and exciting.
When talking about what would make her more comfortable at the event, she realized that she needs some time to get acclimated and comfortable with her surroundings. Therefore, for future events she’s going to ask her husband to stay with her for the first 15 minutes so she can ease in and scope it out a bit.
Even though these are two small changes to how she approaches the event, the results should be impactful. After the event, the goal is to see if her food and alcohol consumption changed, if she was able to stay more present without falling into the tunnel vision she described and if she felt less alone.
Next time you go to an event where you anticipate losing your willpower or discipline, ask yourself:
“How do I want the event to end?”
“What do I need going into the event to help me feel comfortable?”
Laura B. Folkes is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach. She supports busy adults who know what they should be eating but have a hard time sticking to it to help them radically transform their relationship with food. She helps identify the familiar patterns that have been keeping them from sticking to what they know works and ensures her clients don’t feel deprived by guiding them to make small, incremental changes so the journey is more enjoyable. After successfully losing 60 pounds and working through her own emotional relationship with food, Laura recognizes there are many factors keeping individuals from sticking to what they know works but it’s her mission to help others overcome these factors to become healthier and happier.
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