I was watching a TV show recently. In this episode, the main character, a psychologist, asks a patient if he knows what the word “FEAR” stands for. She goes on to say “FEAR” is an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real”. I’d never heard that before. I’m guessing the TV shows writers made it up for dramatic effect, but it still got me thinking.
I do not agree that all fear is about “false evidence appearing real”. Sometimes fear is our instinct, our gut, warning us to pay attention and take action. For example, let’s say you’ve been procrastinating on a project at work. You’re feeling fear. What if you don’t deliver? Will you get fired? If that fear is justified, if others have been fired for similar infractions, and your fear gets you motivated to do your work, that may not be “false evidence appearing real”.
If there’s a shady character walking behind you in a parking garage, and fear motivates you to walk a little more quickly, get in your car, and drive away, it can be useful.
But let’s connect that to binge eating. In the moments when you feel driven to binge eat, are you feeling fear? Are you afraid that if you don’t get and eat the cookies you won’t be OK? Are you afraid you can’t tolerate being in your own skin, in that moment in time, if you don’t act on the urge to eat; that you won’t be able to make it through an evening alone without a pizza and a pint of ice cream? I know that feeling!
Today, looking back, I know that that fear was “false evidence appearing real”. What did I fear would happen if I didn’t get the pizza and ice cream? I was afraid I would not be able to survive any feelings that might come up if just sat there and allowed them. So, I chose to stuff those feelings down with food.
While sometimes fear is useful and justified, sometimes fear is really a distortion of the facts to fit how we feel in the moment.
In the moment, when you feel you have no choose but to binge eat, these are the first questions to ask yourself. Is the fear you’re feeling real and therefore requires an action to make you safe? Or, is the fear you’re feeling “false evidence appearing real”? Is pizza really the answer to what you need in that moment?
The next questions to ask; Do you have the skills needed to tolerate those moments without using food? If not, what are you willing to do to get those skills; to make that need to push feelings down with food obsolete? If interested in learning more, be sure to listen to my Free Phone Seminar about overcoming emotional and binge eating.
Ellen Shuman is a pioneer in the field of Binge Eating Disorder; a Life Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), A Founding Member and Past President of BEDA; The Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. For information about Coaching Services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 513-321-4242.