A post on my message board (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings) a few months ago included the words, “Some of us are broken.” I hear often from clients that they’re “broken”—read as not fixable. However, there is no such thing as a totally “broken” person or a totally “fixed” one. This polarization is an example of unhealthy, all-or-nothing thinking that perpetuates the idea that anyone is wholly defective or entirely perfect. Needless to say, broken is not a good way to think of yourself.
We all are lacking in some areas, and most of us excel in others. No one is a mess or completely okay. Each of us has our issues! Think of the most terrific, most together person you know, then consider their flaws. They have them, I assure you. Now think of the most dysfunctional person you know (not you!), then consider what they do well or have achieved. The problem isn’t your flaws and deficits: It’s how you feel about your “fixability.” If you feel broken and unfixable, you will act that way and never get “fixed.” If you act broken and unfixable, you will feel that way and never get “fixed.” Capische?
I understand that your eating needs a tune up or maybe even a complete overhaul. That doesn’t make you a broken person. Consider all of your other roles: parent, child, worker, citizen, friend, leader, neighbor. Eater is one role among many. Think of all the other activities you do: manage, delegate, trouble-shoot, create, listen, guide, invent, direct, educate, negotiate. Eating is one activity among many. Does unwanted eating negate all of those activities? Does being a disregulated eater negate all of those roles? If you believe so, you will need to develop healthier beliefs on the subject.
Take a minute to reflect on how you view yourself. Do you see yourself as broken or defective? Be honest. Do you believe you’re unfixable, but can’t say exactly why? What does this view of yourself do to your ability to change and better yourself? Do you think of broken as a description of an aspect of self that needs work or as your entire identity? When you focus on your eating dysfunctions, do you also keep in mind all the many areas in which you function well and even shine?
None of us is or ever will be perfect. Nor will we totally erase some of the early damage done to our fragile psyches. Yet we certainly can heal enough to be functional and fix much of what isn’t working well for us, including our food problems. To think of yourself as broken is to believe that you are so far beyond repair, you might as well give up. Get rid of the word, get rid of the concept. You are fixable, just like everyone else.