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Recovery blog

Brain Becomes Boss

By: Laura Minch, PsyD, Team Leader at The Renfrew Center of Atlanta

Posted on October 10, 2016

I love learning about and talking about the brain because it dictates everything that we do….every moment of every day (what we think, who we interact with, how we experience emotions). It also changes when we are in our eating disorder and throughout the recovery process. I am a firm believer that understanding how things function and impact our behavior provides the possibility of making different choices.

When we have an urge to do something, our brain is telling us something important. When we act on an urge or behavior, we are providing information to our brain and reinforcing those behaviors. In very simplified terms, when I am uncomfortable in a situation, I may have the urge to run away or skip a meal. If I act on those behaviors, they will likely continue in the future. However, the consequence of those behaviors could mean that I don't learn how to manage an uncomfortable situation or that I may put my body at risk by not providing it with the necessary nutrition.

The great news is that we have the power to change our behavior if we can determine what our brain is telling us. If I were in the same situation, I may choose to eat my lunch and stay in this situation although I am uncomfortable. By doing so, I may learn that although I am uncomfortable, I can still function in my daily routine. I may also learn that in spite of difficult emotions, I can still fuel and nourish my body.

The first step in changing behavior is to understand how we experience the world around us. Only then can we take the necessary steps to do something different. But change is possible!

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