As many of you already know, “Everything in moderation”, is much easier said than done. It is common for individuals to struggle with moderation in at least one area of their life, if not more. Whether it be food, alcohol, emotions, sex, love, or gambling, it can be difficult to obtain a happy medium. When you look at it on a spectrum, some people fall in the middle and are able to moderate, where others may tend to struggle with all-or-nothing thinking. For example, these individuals may have thoughts like “I am either all in or all out”, “I am either on a diet and restricting or not on one at all (bingeing)”, or even “I give up on moderating after a couple days”. When you fall in the extreme categories, there tends to be guilt associated with indulging too much and anxiety when you don’t do it enough. If you are someone who struggles to find a happy medium, below are some general techniques to help you begin to moderate for more balance in your life.
When you want to “cut back” on a behavior or response, this means you have become aware that something has to change. In order to succeed in that change, it is important to continue the practice of mindfulness techniques as you engage in the behavior you desire to cut back on. For example, if you are interested in moderating your overeating behaviors, you may pay more attention to the times when you get hungry, what caused it, how you were feeling, and how much you ate in the moment. Become more aware of what you do in the present moment will increase awareness and facilitate change.
Challenge Thoughts and Behavior
Once you have been able to monitor your reactions, behaviors, and thoughts for some time, you may be ready to start challenging some of those. If we continue with the overeating example, the next step may be to practice challenging thoughts about food, only ordering a specific amount, setting rules for yourself, and holding yourself accountable. This is a difficult phase for many people as it is crucial for change. Keep practicing these challenges for yourself until it eventually becomes more automatic.
Whenever you engage in the thoughts or behaviors, you are trying to moderate it is important that you set aside some time for reflection. During this time you may reflect on what a particular experience was like for you, how well you did, how you felt, what you would like to do differently, etc. Reflection gives you the opportunity to see what is working, what you would like to do differently, and can be used as motivation when you feel you “failed”. As you practice mindfulness, challenge behavior and thoughts, and reflect, you are consciously challenging the black and white thinking in order to achieve balance.
If you are finding it difficult to moderate and would like some support, it may be useful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!