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Back to Beck: Day Thirty-Four: Solve Problems

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Oh my oh my. We are plunged right back into the Beck "heart of darkness" with respect to intensely complex cognitive techniques.

Here, she is actually synthesizing THREE tough days into one lesson. It is a blockbuster. It is a cognitive triathlon, for sure --

Day 33 (yesterday): eliminate emotional eating.

Day 26: recognize thinking mistakes (remember, there were 9, or maybe 12 of those).


Day 27: master the 7 questions technique.

In my 2001 blog, I applied this approach -- conscientiously -- to a particular situation of emotional eating. Which I face over and over again. Namely, coming in the door after a tough day at work, in a state of despair over any one of my difficult child custody problems, and reaching for the peanut butter.

I most sincerely could not write a better synthesis of Beck's strategy for solving problems today. I acknowledged the negative emotion. I identified the thinking error (s). I asked the seven questions. And I concluded that this approach for solving problems was precisely how I could avoid reaching for the peanut butter.

All true. At some level, and when I'm most successful and conscious of what's going on (making myself BE conscious of what's going on) this is what I do.

So if you think that you actually would benefit from Beck's cognitive triathlon -- by all means, click the link. But it is a LOT of thinking. I question whether most of us, most of the time, can and actually WILL do all of that . . . . So, if any of you do actually re-read that 2011 blog, whaddya think: is it practicable?? Can it be used, really?

Last night I was at one of those fundraising gala dinners, honouring a lawyer in my community. And there were so many many lawyers in the room.

So many of those lawyers whom I know from my cases.

So many of whom deal with the same kind of high-stress problems that make the jar of peanut butter so enticing for me. (Or their own version of addictive foods, for them).

And, without wishing to be complacent, so many of whom (ahem) pretty clearly are NOT armed with Beck's cognitive techniques. Although nobody gets out of law school alive without being pretty handy with cognitive recall and analysis and synthesis. So: they are clearly capable of it . . . if they wanted to be. Right?

OK then: before the gala I'd been to the gym for cardio and upper and lower body strength training. I'd selected a "challenge" outfit. I had a substantial snack, protein rich, before going. Which made it possible to skip all the fatty deep-fried appetizers offered, no eating standing up. Also skipped the cocktails. No choice. When we sat down, I ate all the salad, slowly (it was great). I skipped all but a spoonful of the soup: truffle! And very rich. Permitted myself one small piece of bread, lightly buttered. Then ate almost all the entrée -- the veggies (shoulda been way more veggies), the chicken (thank goodness, not dead cow), and some of the potatoes, whipped version but didn't detect a whole lotta cream/butter. With a very small amount of white wine for the toasts. I skipped the dessert (and it was ooey-gooey chocolate too). Came home and had a small apple! And a small square of Lindt bittersweet, 30 calories.

Tracked it all as best I could. I'm sure I came in within my calorie range for the day -- and my weight is absolutely steady this morning.

This is a great Beck refresher for me -- this is as tough as it gets.

Still: those child custody problems are so often so absolutely intractable. They are. And until there is significant reform in the legal system, they will continue to be. They will. And my control of my weight seems pretty insignificant in the face of that suffering: the very real suffering of children. But: I am reminding myself that kids from split families derive no benefit at all from me stuffing my face either. And I am continuing to work as hard as I can to address these legal issues both globally-- reform efforts-- and locally -- my own clients . . . Gotta say, with most days very little indication of success, at least of the kind that would matter, the kind that's more than winning.

Oh well oh well oh well.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD4114015
    Well, I HAVE to plead INSANITY. I JUST read this blog, finally, and I can find NOTHING that made me FREAK the other day! NADA!!!! NOTHING....am I losing my mind? It was an excellent blog as ALWAYS....my heart broke a bit over the children and know what you mean about reform...it's tragic what happens to kids in this country too. And, my HAT's off to you, you are in a position to help do something to reform it and my prayers go with you!

    But I have to apologize for being so tired and blitzed over.........NOTHING. That marathon day you speak of sort of worries me but I know I am going to do this program again so not too much!

    NOW I will go read 2011's blog (she said sheepishly) emoticon
    2252 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/18/2014 1:30:42 PM
    This was a very moving blog, to me. So much emotion, so much feeling, what do we do with that? You dissect the issues so well, each thing in it's place. All the pain and suffering in the world will not be solved by ingesting huge amounts of food to act as a drug to deaden the pain. At the end of the day, each of us does what we can. Trying to find comfort for ourselves in a way that isn't harmful to our bodies and souls is the very least we can do to love ourselves.

    2252 days ago
    more than anything, you need to give yourself credit - you handled an extremely rough situation with flying colors. beck appears to be providing powerful tools to combat the demons that entice us when we walk into the kitchen - or the gala dinner. thank you for being an inspiration!
    2253 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14291083
    I read both blogs and her questions are powerful for dealing with negative emotions. Your work sounds emotionally excruciating and I'm awed by the compassion with which you deal with it. It's so understandable that you feel like diving on the peanut butter when you get home, but your replacement healthy foods sound so yummy. Good for you for developing these delicious and healthy alternatives.
    2253 days ago
    Ahhhhhhhhhhh, it's 10:37 Sunday evening and I have not blogged as yet b/c I skimmed Beck's day 34 and said "ug". After reading your blog, now I know why...all my no-so-favourite Beck days rolled into one. ug.

    But you, hope you remembered to give yourself credit. What a great job you did resisting appetizers AND dessert! And I'm sure you looked stylin' and fab last night!!!!

    And about life...you struggle for the things that are the most important to you...children. And, you're smart enough to know you can't solve all the problems, but you're also smart enough to know that you can solve some, and you can and do make a difference in the world. You ARE my favourite lawyer.

    2253 days ago
    You are emoticon ... and my favorite lawyer. Ok, I really only know one other lawyer, but I like him and he lives next door.
    2253 days ago
  • NANCY-
    Even doing some of what Dr. Beck suggests is a step in the right direction. It opens our eyes to our behaviors and assists us in redirecting us to our goal.
    You did wonderful at the gala.
    2254 days ago
  • _LINDA
    You are certainly to be greatly admired for choosing the most emotionally difficult vocation for a lawyer. Really don't know how you cope with it, year after year. Amazing really. Completely understandable the emotional eating. Defies logic that you didn't pick up an addiction like drugs or alcohol to deal. Food was the least harmful choice, but you certainly beat it in spades! The choices at the gala first rate!! Yes, you have certainly found the healthy way.
    I personally would find all this thinking hard to do. Unfortunately, I am at my most focused when I am doing. As I work long hours to catch up on club work, declutter and generally try to get better organized, all thoughts of food vanish. Its my idle time that is most dangerous. For me, keeping my day filled with activity works. But, you do need rest and relaxation too as a part of a healthy lifestyle. I just have to choose not filling it with snacking the wrong things..
    Keep on being amazing!
    2254 days ago
    WOW! I can't believe you're already on day 34! I am extremely proud of you! I think you did fabulous at the fund raising gala dinner last night! You rocked it girlfriend! I'm so sorry you are going through child custody issues! That has to be really hard on you! Keep on keeping on!
    I hope you have a nice and relaxing day!
    Hugs and love,
    2254 days ago
    Your blog brought to mind one of my dear friends and her son's battle in Child Custody Court. What a mess it can be ! And so stressful for all involved including the children.

    But I think that by this time you have a very good handle on how to deal with stress and food. Oh, I know the temptation may be there for you on occasion when you get home from work, but over all you have this one nailed down.

    I also liked your approach to the dinner you attended. You did the best you could with what was offered and although the offerings may have been far from perfect we have to give ourselves credit for every right choice we make.

    2254 days ago
    Absolutely practicable! If we can slow our inner monster down enough to follow it.

    I notice an evolution over the years... it used to be I didn't even KNOW I was having an emotional struggle until I found myself "in the food". Now, I recognize it when I'm TEMPTED by the food. And I can make a conscious choice to go for the short-term "fix" or address the underlying issue.

    This works best, of course, if I am NOT under the influence of one of my triggers already! Reinforcing the abstinence requirement for certain food for me.

    And good job with yesterday's event! And super good job with having the peanut butter in the house and finding ways to minimize the risk! emoticon
    2254 days ago
    I am so proud of you for resisting the ooey-gooey chocolate. That would be my downfall. I would most likely take at the very least, a bite! You are doing really well and remember, all the problems of the world can't be solved in one day. Give yourself credit for even trying. i admire you for fighting a good fight! You have been such a great inspiration to me in this Beck Diet thing! Keep up the good work!
    2254 days ago
    Yes, lots to do for sure! Reminding myself of my thinking errors seems to be the most difficult for me, but working on it.

    My DH is an atty. too, but his issues revolve around the health-care industry (and I'm a nurse, so it's interesting to me). Anyhow, it's enough to give on heartburn if you let it!

    HUGS and thanks, as always for sharing.
    2254 days ago
    Big big hugs to you. Trying to make the world a better place, and trying to make children's lives better while in the midst of whatever traumatic situation, all while NOT eating trigger foods after a tough tough day, is miserably difficult. There are days when it feels like only a cookie will make it all better. I know, you know, it won't. And cognitively, there is the KNOWING. But, well, there's also the feeling. The emotions. The need to be comforted ourselves.

    Does Beck address finding non-food comforts? This is when I go for the lavender tea, and lavender body wash in a long soothing shower, and maybe wearing comfy pajamas while having dinner. Anything to just feel luxurious and comforted without resorting to that cookie or whatever is calling my name.

    Because we too need comfort. To know that we're doing our best, we are helping, we can't solve all the world's problems in a day, we can only do as much as we can and then go and take care of ourselves.

    So - get a few hugs each day. Do whatever comforts you. And have someone hide the peanut butter.
    2254 days ago
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