How Do You Know?
When people make assertions that are flimsy or invalid, I have a friend who asks them, How do you know that? Deceptively simple, this question challenges intellectual laziness and uncritical adherence to falsehood and demands that opinions be backed up by facts. I strongly encourage you to use it to challenge your own irrational thinking.
The counseling I do requires that I constantly push people to think critically and act rationally if they intend to become emotionally healthy “normal” eaters. That means finding evidence to support all of their beliefs. It doesn’t wash to say, “I just know it,” “I’ve always thought this way,” “I have no idea,” or but “Mom/Dad/whomever says so.” You need to back up every assertion, especially the ones you use to guide your eating and shape your view of yourself, with rock solid evidence. Moreover, training yourself to think with this kind of rigorous analysis around food will foster your seeking appropriate evidence in evaluating all of life’s decisions.
Evidence seeking is especially essential in assessing your self-worth. Far too many of you believe that you’re defective, broken, unfixable, unworthy, or inadequate. When I asked a client how she knew she was defective, she replied that her husband insisted she was. Ha! Another client’s “proof” is that she’s the only child in her family who didn’t attend college and her family looks down on her, so she couldn’t be any sort of success. Another insisted that there’s something very wrong with her because her parents treated her as if she were garbage nearly every day of her childhood.
First off, these examples are hardly evidence that can or should be taken seriously. They are the opinions and actions of people which carry no real weight in adult life. Spouses and parents aren’t objective experts. Instead, often they’re woefully mentally unhealthy individuals. How do I know this? If they were healthy, they would never think or say the things they do! Get it? You have to examine the source of comments and ask yourself if they’re appropriate, unbiased, and what motivation someone has for saying them. Because a person makes a statement, feels something deeply, or says it loudly and repeatedly does not make it true. Only hard core evidence makes something true.
If you believe there’s something gravely wrong with you, where’s the current overwhelming evidence that you are the mess you think you are? If there is none (and there won’t be), recognize that what you’ve been taking for proof all along is smoke and mirrors. Every time you think badly of yourself, ask, “How do I know that?”