Saturday, May 14, 2011

Baby yourself

Ever notice how attentive new mothers are to their babies?   Recently my friend Heather came over with her new daughter, Sasha.   The baby began to cry and Heather tried to figure out what was wrong.  Was Sasha tired?  Hungry?  In need of a diaper change?  Did she just need to be held?

Sasha was crying because she needed  comfort.  As I watched my friend hold and rock her child, I reflected how nice it would be if all people treated themselves with the same amount of interest and concern that they show for babies.    People who struggle with disordered eating often are hostile to their most basic needs, whether for food, sleep, love, connection,  or comfort.

Some mothers are not as attuned to their  kids as Heather is, and they use food to meet every need.  If the baby cries, she gets nursed or is given a bottle.  The baby may be tired, hungry, wet or just cranky, but the response is the same: she gets fed.

Imagine a baby's perspective.  The baby is tired and needs a nap, so she cries (because that's how babies communicate!).  Mom comes over right away, but instead of putting the baby down for a soothing rest, she provides a bottle.  The baby learns that her need for rest will be resolved with food.  She may even start to confuse her need for rest with hunger.  If this happens repeatedly, the baby can even start feeling hungry whens she's tired. 

Do you recognize and meet your needs for soothing, for connection, rest, and so forth?  Or are you hostile to those needs, angry at "giving in" to hunger or using food to comfort and distract from difficult, upsetting feelings?

What can you do differently to "baby" yourself?  Recognizing and validating your needs is an important first step.

What do you need more of in your life?  Connection?  Recognition?  Love?  Time?  Rest?

Your needs and wants require validation and attention, not  condemnation.

Baby yourself, today and every day!

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