Control Freak Much?

control-freakIf I could spend time inside my husband’s head, I know it would be very peaceful there. Rob is one of those people whom us control freaks don’t understand; he is optimistic, joyful, and generally free of worry or fear. It is incredible to me that he sees the world through these awesome “happy glasses”.

Now if Rob could spend time in my head, that would be a whole different story! He would probably run away screaming in less than a minute. It’s pretty chaotic and scary in there; fear, worry, negativity, self- doubt, and being really hard on myself a lot of the time. Although I have made great strides toward a healthier mind, especially in the area of fear, I have quite a ways to go. And don’t get me wrong; I do have lots of good thoughts in there too – but I want there to be more!

I am in good company when it comes to being a control freak. Man, what a stressful existence for us. We want to lessen pain and/or discomfort in our environment because we are afraid of pain and emotions. So we try to control people, circumstances and outcomes by planning and reasoning in situations that we don’t have control over. We put our relationships under conditions by telling the ones we love how they should act around us. (Know anybody you have to “walk on eggshells around?”)

The core of this type of behavior is really just fear. Or my favorite acronym, False Evidence Appearing Real. Its also a complete waste of time. The only thing we can control is how we behave, the thoughts that come into our minds (yes, I have learned I actually have some control over that), what comes out of our mouths, and what goes IN our mouths; because those of us with eating disorders use food inappropriately to try to take control when we feel fearful, when we experience circumstances that we can’t control, or when we feel we don’t measure up because of the way we look. Do any of the following sound familiar?

“I need to lose about 20 more pounds, then I’ll be much happier with myself.”
“What a fat pig I am, I need to lose some weight!”
“I look so horrible in this outfit.”
“I wish I looked like ______.”
“I can’t go to (enter event here) today. I feel too fat and everyone will notice me.”
“WHY did I eat that last night? What is WRONG with me? I am such a failure.”

Can anyone relate to this? Can you see the fear behind these thoughts? We are afraid of others thoughts, opinions and comments. We are afraid of gaining weight, afraid of eating in front of others, and some of us are actually afraid to eat, period. We are afraid to see our own images in the mirror or window glass when we walk by. Why are we so afraid? Could it be because we’re not following the “rules” ? We are afraid to be “different” than what society expects and demands of us?
Here is what I have learned the “rules” are:

  • If you are thin, you will be happy
  • If you are thin, you will be beautiful
  • If you are thin, you will be loved
  • If you are thin, you will escape criticism and scrutiny
  • If you are thin, you are worthy of all good things life has to offer

When you see them in black and white its obvious how ridiculous they are. But we don’t see that because they are fed to us slowly, deceptively over time in different ways.

I first felt the consequences of “breaking the rules” when I hit 4th grade and started gaining weight, becoming heavier than my friends. I was fair game to make fun of because I was “different.” And I was too young to realize that I was OK; I was healthy and God’s beautiful child who was worthy of being loved and not treated so badly.

Looking back I feel bad for that little redheaded kid on the playground who was taunted on a daily basis, and continued to be called names through high school. I wish I would have had the courage to stand up for myself. That’s what you do when you love someone. But I didn’t love myself because I believed them. I bought into the lies because I did not have a close relationship with God at the time. He was the One who created that kid and loved that kid and who knew every word was a lie. Had I known Him, I could have run to Him when I was hurting, and I could have remembered his wonderful truth about me (Psalm 139). But the past is the past – and as good as God is, He picked up the pieces and made good on His promises :

“And we know that God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love him, to those who are called according to His purpose.”-Romans 8:28

I am evidence of the truth of that scripture, I wouldn’t be writing this had I not had all of the struggles and pain I have had with addiction and body image. I wouldn’t be writing the songs that I do, I wouldn’t be equipped to help broken people, to understand eating disorders, overcoming fears, battling lies, and learning how to trust God that He always has my best interests in mind and that He is always with me.

How do we fight our fear?

How do we fight our fear?

So how do we possibly begin to take on what is for some of us, the root of fears which have grown so deep we’ve become accustomed to living with them? How do we start the process of overcoming the lies that are told to us daily?

For me, first and foremost, it starts with recognizing and being aware of where they come from:

“And through his shrewdness he will cause deceit to succeed by his influence.” – Daniel 8:25

Yes, we have an Enemy and he has been deceiving us since Eve. Once we recognize this we have the power to stop it. Oh yes, we have HUGE help:

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Phillippians 4:13

The more consistently I pray for strength and help, the more aware I am of what these thoughts really are and therefore the more power I have to stop them.

The best way to describe it is I am surrounding my mind with good things by praying and seeking the good and true things God says about me. Then when an ugly lie or a fearful thought enters, it starts to feel like it doesn’t belong there anymore. Some part of me may still even believe a part of that lie (bad habits die hard) but at least now I KNOW it’s wrong. So I act on what I know by saying or thinking, “what a lie THAT is” or “I don’t believe that.” Or I think the truthful thoughts instead, or I choose to be thankful for the good things in my life. It’s amazing how being thankful can send fear and ugly thoughts running!

That’s the power of prayer. The practice of talking to God daily helps you see the world (and yourself) through His eyes. Because sometimes the world can just take us away from who we really are and God helps bring us back to the truth of that (again, Psalm 139).

I have discovered through Celebrate Recovery that fear was at the root of my addiction; how ironic that we are trying to be in control of our out-of-control world by bingeing, yet the reality of it is this behavior is so OUT of control. Deceived yet again…but not defeated. Through CR and through having a relationship with Jesus I have been healing from both my food addiction and fear/control issues. Who would have ever thought? This gives me enough hope to believe that someday I too will get to wear those “happy glasses!”

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