Sunday, January 31, 2010

Using the other hand

Yesterday, I had this strange thought as I was simultaneously making banana pudding with bananas and milk closely reaching their expiration date and eating oatmeal with peanut butter, bananas, and blueberries. I noticed I was eating oatmeal with my right hand and stirring the pudding with my left. Rarely do I ever eat with my right hand! I'm a pretty true lefty when it comes to eating and most other things. However, at one point, I was not a lefty but rather a righty. Somewhere during the time after my first hand surgery at 5 years of age or so, my brain amazingly switched to learn to be left-handed. Ever since, I've always considered myself pretty much a lefty, though some stuff I had to be taught to be left, like with some gymnastics skills in my youth.

Going back to my thought. I was thinking how when I realized I was using my right hand to simply eat oatmeal, how I had to really concentrate on this--grabbing the spoon, holding it with my fingers, scooping the oatmeal, bringing it to my mouth in a less than haphazard manner to risk from dropping food down my shirt or onto the kitchen counter. This took a lot of effort!

Why, because this was out of the ordinary. It felt different, almost uncomfortable actually, but at the same time, it forced me to think of how to do something differently to make it work. Often times, as humans, we turn into creatures of habit. We all do this to some extent or another. On a brief side note here, it's one reason why dogs who have owners with strict schedules love us! They learn that at X time, they will be fed, at X time, they may play ball, etc. So when we mess with their routines, they give us these funny looks--that quirked head to the side, that confused look, or a look of exasperation "what the hell are you doing/thinking?"

It's the same with humans when our routines and habits change. Some of us deal with adaptability well, while others falter to the nth degree, and of course there are others in the in-between. But adaptability or just trying something different both allows and forces us to use more brain cells. Things are no longer on autopilot, they take a lot of effort and thought-ability (I don't think that is even a word but makes sense in this case). It really is part of what recovery is about, i.e. after appropriate weight restoration and in a "healthier" state.

I know most of us already know this at least in a logical sense, but putting it to use is hard. I think if we continue to challenge ourselves in healthy ways, we not only discover more of our capabilities but also think out of the box too.

I'm thinking maybe this week to try my right hand at more tasks--simple things of course, like eating, putting on clothes, brushing my teeth, those sorts of things. Some may ask why? I don't know, just to give myself reminders that I can feel uncomfortable, sit with it, and maybe even adapt. Anyone else up for the challenge?

Note: I realize this is probably all really cheesy, but just putting it out there anyway.


The_Timekeeper said...

I love the idea of massaging new channels in my neurocircuitry, with the hope that I will create by sheer force of action/behavior/thought re-training, the change I wish to see. Or at least think I wish to see.

Because I seem to only want to embrace recovery if it's easy, it feels good and right, and I never have to struggle (or at least not very much).

I'm oh-so-willing to change up my day, schedule, handedness, thoughts, etc., in the name of neuroplasticity and a good and active brain. But I always, always come up short on the persistence to act on recovery behaviors/counter ED thoughts (and not act on ED behaviors; engage in ED thinking).

I'm impatient. I know it takes practice, unfailing practice. It takes willingness to tolerate hating how you feel, either in mind or body or both. It takes willingness to feel that way forever, if need be. Because it might get better; it might not; or you might just get used to it, so it doesn't seem so crappy anymore.

Even the ED equivalent of hand surgery (hospitalization) doesn't seem to disable the established ED hand long enough to cure a new pattern. Given what we are learning about the physiological and psychological predispositions of people with eating disorders, that pattern only comes with lifetime behavioral vigilance, emotional and cognitive awareness, and the ability to understand and integrate it all.

You have it exactly right when you recognize the great importance and value of challenging ourselves to "use the other hand," sitting with discomfort and seeing how it is key to learning to adapt.

I Hate to Weight said...

i'm fascinated by the hand shift. i wonder if using your right hand will bring back memories, as it sounds as though you were initially right handed? really interesting. i write with my left hand, although i do most everything else with my right. still, sometimes i notice that i'll be doing something with my left hand, that i usually do with my right.

in terms of trying new and uncomfortable stuff. i'm communicating so much better with my fiance but, boy, does it take work. i usually stuff it away when i'm angry or upset or hurt. now, although it takes a while for me to work up to it, i do say how i feel. and it's so gratifying all around. but so not my first instinct!

Tiptoe said...

Time_keeper, after I reread this post and you comment, I hope I do not come off as thinking that just by changing your thinking/thoughts/action, poof, ED is gone. I certainly know it takes a lot of work, and like you, I was certainly able to change around routines a bit at times but not the ED. I've been known for impatience in this department too.

It is often the last thing to turn around. I wish it was as easy as just a change in thought. Sadly, it just doesn't work that way. But at the same time, keeping the challenges going is helpful too.

Lissy, yes, the hand shifting is an interesting phenomenon. Using my right hand more may or may not bring back memories, hard to say.

Good for you in communicating more with your fiance. Going against instinct is hard, but this is definitely a good one to be working on.