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Beliefs of Parents of Dysregulated Eaters

Most of us grow up believing what our parents believe, but we don’t think of these belief as belonging to our parents. We think they belong to us. In truth, they belonged to our parents and were passed down to us automatically. Many of these beliefs are healthy and rational, but an equal number may be detrimental to our health and mental health.

Many dysregulated eaters have a set of beliefs which simply are not useful or beneficial in life, however they keep on believing them—and acting based upon them--as if they were truths. Sometimes these beliefs worked for your parents and sometimes they didn’t. You adopted them even though they were helpful and didn’t make you or your folks happy or successful.

Here are some I’ve come across in my clinical travels. One is about productivity, that you must be busy and be doing something meaningful every minute of the day or your life is hardly worthwhile. Is this really true? Where is the evidence? Why can’t you take a break and relax and feel good about such an activity? You get to decide what makes your life worthwhile. Another belief is that you must always succeed and do the best you can. Not true. Success is all well and good but, frankly, failure will teach you more about life and give you a chance to develop humility. In terms of doing the best you can, it’s better to decide where you want to put your energy and excel and where you can coast, thereby perhaps enjoy the activity more. A related belief is that if you’re not a success, you’re a failure. How about the concept of being in the middle, mediocre or the idea that you gave your all and almost got there. What’s wrong with getting close to the prize?

Yet one more belief is that emotions aren’t important and that you don’t have to bother with feeling them. Just because your parents had difficulty with feelings and, therefore, pooh-poohed them, doesn’t mean they’re not important. Or maybe your parents taught you that emotions are too painful to tolerate. It may be true that this was the case for them, but that is a subjective response. An objective view is that emotions are highly important for knowing how to relate in life. A biggie is believing that you have to be thin or thinner to be happy and successful. Many parents of disregulated eaters were chronic dieters and over-focused on what they, you and other people weigh. This is a painful belief to hold and weight has nothing—nothing!—to do with one’s value.

You can change all of your beliefs and pick out the ones you want to have and hold. You are not your parents and you want to have a belief system that works for you.

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Problems Beyond Eating

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