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Too often dysregulated eaters miss the point when the fight to change their eating habits. I hear them say they know they “must battle with their urges,” and “should be ashamed if they fail.” I note the high standards they set for themselves and the do-or-die way they attack the subject. What if you didn’t have to think in terms of battling and fighting with food and, instead, could view it as a process that was opening yourself to new possibilities?
Because of the dysfunctional way you learned to view the world—in black-and-white or all-or-nothing terms—you often get things backward. I don’t mean this as a criticism, but as an observation. One example is your approach to change. This is what I often hear. “I don’t struggle enough in the moment. I should struggle more. What’s wrong with me? I ought to be ashamed of myself.” From the outset, the goal of changing seems rooted externally, as if it’s foisted on you without your consent. So, I ask, Who says you don’t struggle enough and that you should struggle more? Who saying there’s something wrong with you and that you ought to be ashamed of yourself? It’s time to name names.
When you insist that being a certain better way is being better than the way you are, in effect, you’re saying you’re not so good or not good enough. This is where the shame starts. When you fail at being something else—not what or how you really are—you feel as if you’ve fallen short of some imperial standard. It’s not your standard, mind you, but the standard you are imposing on yourself from somewhere outside yourself.
Compare that with saying that you’d like to work harder at regulating your eating. You wish to spend a bit more time, a tad more energy in the moment making a choice rather than giving in to your initial urge. If you make your wish come true, fine and dandy, but if you don’t, you’ve lost nothing and can give yourself credit for trying something different. Instead of feeling shame that you didn’t measure up, you feel compassion that you tried and failed or half-failed. You’ll try again and maybe next time you’ll succeed.
What you want to avoid is telling yourself you must doing something and then feeling ashamed when you don’t succeed. Better to wish to do something and feel compassion when you fail. Can you feel the how the two approaches are different? How one fosters experimentation and the other shuts it down? You may not have control over a lot in life, but you can decide how to view your desire to become a regulated eater. Focus on your own desires and meeting them in your own time in your own way.
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