As she notes, “Whenever people are affected by someone or something close to them, I always think that they have two options: 1. Cut off ties with that person/thing or limit your time with them/it; or 2. learn to cope.”
This really resonated with me, because like Holly, lately, I can’t handle all the obsessive talk about food and exercise — and I’ve needed to go the “flight” route.
I have a lot of friends on Facebook and Twitter (some of whom I’m close with, some not) and I can’t tell you how many posts lately are about food or fitness (no surprise–it’s the new year!).
“I ran X miles” or “I resisted X food” or “I’m soooo hungry!” type posts.
While I’m thrilled for them that they’re working hard to lose (or maintain) weight, I just don’t want to hear about it.
(Maybe it’s because I went about my weight loss privately? I did Weight Watchers online, but didn’t even start posting on the message boards until I was at goal. I dunno ...)
Anyway, while I am not going to stop using Facebook or Twitter (the ultimate “flight” move) I have had to separate myself a little and not engage when they post things that make me heat up.
Sometimes I’ll say “congrats” (because I do believe they’re doing it for good reason — to get support) but for the most part, I just have resolved to ignore the commentary around me.
I could get involved — offer up my own ideas, suggestions … but nine times out of ten, I “walk away,” or just don’t engage. I realize whole-heartedly that I’m taking it personally; it’s not their faults at all and I’m just super-sensitive to it.
You know, it’s funny. They say we always find flaws in others that we have in ourselves, and I really believe that to be true.
As two of my dear friends noted the other night, it’s a sign of progress for me: that I can recognize obsession elsewhere now; I wouldn’t have been able to probably even a year ago. I’d have been part of the conversation, I’m sure.
I gotta say, it makes me sooo happy I lost weight 5 years go, before the advent of social media — because you can be rest assured I’d have been yapping with the best of them, driving everyone around me mad!
The truth is, most people don’t want to hear about it (it ends up making people feel bad about themselves, however ridiculous as that may sound) … but with social media, we feel can talk about whatever we want, all the time — and often have a captive audience to do so.
And that’s fine, except when you’re the disordered one who is recovering and want to close your ears and walk away.
Since we can’t control others and we can only control our reactions to others, walking away is sometimes the best solution.
Another example. A while ago at work (as part of our awesome wellness program) we had a nutrition counselor come in to talk to us.
While I thought it was a great benefit and an awesome thing my company did, I didn’t sign up to go. It was a very deliberate, conscious decision. I was still chewing and spitting at the time, and just didn’t want to put myself in an uncomfortable situation where food would be the fixation.
I couldn’t explain it to my colleagues when they asked (they were surprised, knowing my love of all things nutrition), but the truth was, I just didn’t want to be in a situation where the fixation was on food. I just needed to be removed from it, plain and simple. “Flight” took over.
I think in some ways I “fight” — I think the existence (and maintenance) of my blog or my participation at WeAretheRealDeal is an example of that.
But when it comes to surrounding myself with people talking obsessively about food/exercise, I find myself shying away. Changing the conversation. Altering the tone of a chat. And I don’t think it’s such a bad thing.
In a way, I think this is the first step in realizing, “I’m recovered.” Conversations like this upset me. They don’t make me happy, I don’t want to participate like I used to.
Of course, time and place mean everything; I realize in some situations “flight” isn’t a viable option. But for the most part, on a case-by-case basis, I can choose how I’m going to react. Sometimes I might need to “suck it up.”
But sometimes, inaction/non-engagement really is the best strategy for me … at least for now.
How about you? If you’re recovering yourself (or even not) how do you deal with others’ food/diet/exercise obsessions? Do you fight or flight?