Today’s formula is to see life – and recovery – as a series of building blocks. The ultimate example of this concept is the famous pyramid of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, pictured above. According to Maslow, we cannot successfully achieve our goals in the higher levels of the pyramid, if our needs haven’t been met at the lower levels.
Let’s look at a practical example: If you’re severely restricting your calories (denying your physiological needs), you’re likely to feel hungry, grumpy, and foggy in the head.
How might this affect your safety and security? Well, you may be less effective at work or care less about whether you show up on time and do a good job. This could affect whether you keep your job and can pay your bills.
How might this affect your sense of belonging? If you’re grumpy you may lash out at other people or isolate from them completely.
How does restricting food or overeating affect your self-esteem? It may be difficult to find things to appreciate about yourself, when you’re obsessed with self-deprecating thoughts about body image.
What about self-actualization, or living up to your full potential? Well, if you are not fueling your body in a nourishing, self-loving way, you also restrict your body, mind or spirit from functioning at their full capacity.
Clients come to us at White Picket Fence Counseling Center for help recovering from an eating disorder, but they usually have goals in every part of their life. They may want to find a life partner, have healthier relationships with family, get a better job or be more successful at work.
Yet until they address the first, most fundamental level of Maslow’s hierarchy, their physiological – physical – needs, they may be baffled about why those other areas are out of sync.
When people feel frustrated with their perceived lack of success or slow recovery, it’s helpful for them to recognize this concept of building blocks. Recovery in one area builds on recovery work done in another area.
The 12 Steps are also a set a building blocks, where recovering addicts progress through the steps one after the other. Often times an earlier step needs to be repeated if a barrier appears while working a later step.
Another application of the building blocks formula is from a book called Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends. Author and divorce therapist Bruce Fisher presents a set of building blocks people have to work through when a love relationship ends, before they can advance to heal their sense of self-worth and possibly love again.This way they won’t bring their baggage to the next relationship, repeat the same mistakes, or choose the same type of partner.
To get to a place of freedom and peace with food and comfort in one’s body, there’s definitely a process you need to go through. Having a visual roadmap of building blocks can really help make sense of the concept that what you’re doing now is going to lead to where you want to go, even if you’re not quite there yet. White Picket Fence Counseling Center can help you with that journey.