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Controlling Emotional Eating

Consider The Space Between Stimulus And Response; Develop Your Ability To Choose Your Response

Author Stephen Covey wrote a book nearly 20 years ago -"The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People"- that has become required reading for leaders in organizations. It outlines a principle-centered approach for solving problems in the workplace and in one's life. The first habit is "Proactivity", meaning that as human beings we are responsible for our lives, and ultimately cannot blame conditions, conditioning or upbringing for our behavior. Highly proactive (and presumably effective) people "consider the response", and take advantage of the tremendous power we have to control our own lives and destiny.

Our lives are a function of the decisions that we make. We as humans have the ability to control our responses to stimulus, which in our world often comes in the form of negative human interaction. Between the stimulus and response, there is a space. Some of us are born with a very large space, and some with a small space. But it is the use of that space that is important and with focus and self-awareness we can work to enlarge it.

As one works on this idea over time they can become more of function of their decisions rather than their conditions. The reality however, is that this can be difficult. A common cultural narrative illustrates how imbedded conditioning is in our psyche. It is often asked if we are a product of "nature or nurture"? According to Covey, this "very question itself is based on a false dichotomy. We are a product of neither nature or nurture; we are a product of choice, because there is always a space between stimulus and response."

This is a powerful concept and it can be applied to virtually any area of one's life, including eating. It may be helpful to consider our response to stimulus, and understand that we have a wide range of potenital response. It is important to note that this is not a suggestion to simply think positively about something. It is however a suggestion to consider your responses to the weaknesses of others around you. Do these people end up controlling you through your reactions to their behavior? Covey quotes Eleanor Roosevelt to illustrate this point: "No one can hurt you without your consent."

In considering the response we can actively engage in identifying the causes of our feelings. It is suggested in clinical studies that people with a tendency towards emotional eating tend to eat rather than dealing with the source of the negative emotions. Working to build the space between stimulus and response over time might very well help in this area. Human emotions of course are complex, and the scientific community cannot pinpoint the precise cause of emotional eating. But a principle-based approach to how one looks at the world can surely help. Stephen Covey's work is available in almost any book store or library.

Next: Create An Environment Of Thin
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