As we inch toward the conclusion of our 2020 election, you might notice that your mindset has entered Karpman's Drama Triangle. (1) This concept is a social model of human interaction during a conflict. It recognizes that, in stressful situations, our mind will develop an inner narrative about the problem. In it, we will cast those involved, including ourselves, into one of three roles: heroes, villains, and victims.
Take a moment to self-reflect. Who did you cast in each role as you endured 2020 or waited for election results? Politicians? Parties? Friends? Family Members? Neighbors?
When you reflect upon your cast of characters, you probably feel justified. "There is evidence that the label fits," you might say. I'm not here to tell you that you're wrong. I'm merely saying that according to the theory, your label is incomplete.
Think about it this way. Due to your political leanings, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, at least one person in your orbit has recently given you one of those labels. Does the label fit? Is it complete? Probably not. Because, here's the truth: There are no villains; There are no victims; There are no heroes. There are just a whole lot of human beings walking around--each of us with a little villain, a little victim, and a little hero inside.
So when those who differ from you come onto your radar, lose the label. Instead, think of them the way you want them to think of you--as a person, a complex, multi-faceted human being.
United, we stand.
Want to learn more about the drama triangle? Check out this great article at joyofconflict.com.
(1) “Karpman Drama Triangle - Wikipedia.” Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 10 June 2015, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle.
I suppose 2020 is the year to deliver a drawn-out, nail-biting conclusion to our presidential election. If you feel stressed as you wait for results, you are not alone. There will be time for reflection, learning lessons, rising strong, and dealing with whatever is in front of us. But today, just breathe. Take care of your heart and soul as you move consciously through this uncertainty. Go ahead, do it now.
Take a deep, slow breath.
Inhale all the way to the bottom of your belly.
Then, sigh it out.
You'll be ok. We'll be ok. We're Americans. We know how to rise like the phoenix from the ashes. We will rise.
Are you feeling stress on the eve of American election day? Here's an exercise that can help you work through those feelings and create a safe inner space, no matter what's happening in the world around you.
Do you bring stress to the table when it's time to eat? Many of us do. We race through the day, checking off our to-do lists, and eating on the run. We take our emotional-stress to the cupboard for relief. And many of us, stuck in the diet-mentality, feel anxiety about the food itself. We eat while a voice in our head anxiously chatters, "I shouldn't be eating this."
As it turns out, being in fight-and-flight mode while eating affects how you metabolize your food. A fascinating study at Ohio State University found that when their participants ate while stressed, they metabolized their food less efficiently, which could increase fat storage. And their bodies generated more inflammation and plaque buildup, even when eating healthier foods. (1) The finding reveals that eating when stressed can increase weight and set us up for heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. We watch what we eat because we think it will make us healthier and perhaps thinner. But this study reveals that anxiously watching what you eat doesn't achieve that at all. It's another reason I don't recommend dieting.
Join Alison Ross, LMFT and her guests as they share their experiences with the body-positive gratitude challenge.
IG LIVE @nondietinghealth
Wed. Aug 5 - 9am PT - singer/songwriter/mom - Julia Faussone-Martinez
Sun. Aug 9 - 2pm PT - actress Veronica Dunne
"Gratitude is the best medicine." - Anonymous
Did you know that a gratitude practice is like medicine for your physical and psychological health? I was reminded of this on my walk this morning when I passed a street sign decorated with flowers and a plaque that said, "Gratitude is the best medicine." Dr. Robert A Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and the world's leading scientific expert on gratitude, said, "Gratitude empowers us to take charge of our emotional lives and, as a consequence, our bodies reap the benefits."(1) Studies have shown that people who engage in a gratitude practice experience profound physical, emotional, and social benefits. Advantages include stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, more happiness, and optimism. And they are less lonely, more helpful, generous, forgiving, and compassionate. (2)
In my psychotherapy practice, I have found that we can harness the therapeutic power of gratitude to improve our body image. Body image struggles represent a loss of appreciation. When our relationship with our bodies is about self-criticism and pushing toward unrealistic forms, we have lost gratefulness for the fact that our bodies are feeling, thinking, sensing, breathing phenomenons! But we can reclaim that appreciation and powerfully improve body-confidence by practicing gratitude. Doing so doesn't require much effort. You can make a shift right now by identifying one thing that your body does for you, for which you are grateful. Go ahead, give it a try. Then reflect upon how you feel. If you need some help, here are some body-gratitude examples:
I am grateful for my body because it enables me to:
See beautiful things.
Listen to music.
Savor my coffee.
Breathe deeply to feel calm.
Hug and kiss my loved ones.
Snuggle with a pet.
Create art or music.
Do meaningful work.
Smell the roses.
Like any therapeutic practice, the more you do it, the more benefit you will get. Consider taking this body-gratitude challenge for one week. Here's how it works. Open up the notes app on your phone. Start a new note entitled "Body-Gratitude." Now, set a daily alert on your phone for the next seven days. It will be your reminder to practice body-gratitude. Each day, when the alert dings, make a list in your phone of five things about your body for which you are grateful. Then, notice how it feels to enter the thankfulness realm. At the end of the week, reflect upon how you feel about your body. Do you notice more gratitude, more confidence, more awareness of your awesomeness? Less criticism and shame? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
(1) Emmons, Robert. The Little Book of Gratitude. Gaia, 2016.
(2) Prosperity, Gratitude. "Why Gratitude Is Good." Greater Good, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good. Accessed 26 July 2020.
Hi. I’m Alison Ross, founder of Non-Dieting Health in Agoura Hills, California. I’m a licensed psychotherapist and neurofeedback practitioner specializing in eating and body image. My favorite things are my family, my dogs, yoga and working with my clients.