I get a kick out of the expression, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” What a hoot! But the last time I read it I got to thinking about how difficult it is for some of you to, well, actually be yourselves. Doing so means knowing what you feel and think and savoring your uniqueness. So many disregulated eaters hate themselves one minute, then love themselves the next or chameleon-like, change their opinions depending on the people they’re with. So, here forth, it’s time to know yourself so that you can be yourself.

If you had a childhood in which what you felt or said was frequently pooh-poohed, were told you shouldn’t have certain emotions, and needed to watch what came out of your mouth 24/7, you learned not to trust your feelings and opinions. Unfortunately, self-trust is where self-knowledge begins. Instead of sticking to your guns, to get approval and love, you changed your tune and believed you were bad for thinking or feeling authentically. At the least, you kept mum about your most heartfelt beliefs and emotions. You adapted, but lost your authenticity in the process and need to reclaim it.

Make a list of your convictions, what you believe intensely and unshakably. Come up with one or two dozen. Then make a list of another dozen or so beliefs you were taught in childhood which you now know are definitely untrue. Next make a list of beliefs from childhood (or the present) that you’re not too sure about. It’s natural and healthy to have mixed feelings and doubts, along with humility that you don’t have (or have to have) all the answers. Finally, review this list and see if you can get further clarity on your uncertainties. If not, leave them as open questions.

It’s fine to have doubts about things such as whether there is a God, the origin of the universe, or if OJ Simpson was guilty of murder. It’s unhealthy to have questions about your basic goodness (it’s true), what you deserve in life (topnotch things), or how you want to be treated (well). You have to nail these things down in order to achieve mental health and a live a joyful, meaningful life. These rights are the basic premise on which to build your future and work toward a positive relationship with food and your body.

Being yourself entails identifying and holding firm to your convictions, along with allowing new learning and information to alter your opinions as necessary. Knowing the difference between opinions and convictions is key. Their unique combination makes you you! Practice knowing and expressing what you think and feel and letting others get to know who you really are. It may be scary, but it’s essential to emotional health.