While reading a book I’ll soon blog about, a quote nearly knocked my socks off: “…The inside of you is always looking at the outside of everybody else. So the inside of you feels inadequate, insecure, anxious and looks at the outside of people…and thinks, I wish I had my act together like she does. But then you realize that the inside of her is probably looking at the outside of everyone else and thinking the same thing” (quote from Jane Savoie in WOMEN RIDERS WHO COULD…AND DID by Karma Kitaj).

What a powerful description of what goes on for us all. I say all because many disregulated eaters don’t realize that everyone’s insides are looking at everyone else’s outsides. I know Savoie’s quote is true because I’ve experienced how it works. In my 40s, one night I received an out-of-the-blue call from a woman I’d known since junior high school but hadn’t seen since high school graduation! Reminiscing, she amazed me by remarking that she’d envied me back then because I’d been so popular. Popular? Hardly how I felt inside. Another example of misperception happened with a friend I’ve known since my 20s who, I’m told, is intimidated by me. This from a woman who is beautiful, rich, well known and valued in her community, with a terrific sense of humor and a charismatic personality.

As a therapist who’s privy to the anxieties and insecurities of folks one would never in a million years dream are anxious and insecure, I automatically assume that how people present themselves may not match what’s quaking inside them. I’m not saying there aren’t secure, confident people out there; only that, even in the most mentally healthy folks, there’s always more going on than meets the eye. For example, a wildly successful man with a few divorces behind him may envy the quiet, predictable marriages of others. The woman who’s always sunny and giggling may be frightened of rocking the boat with her emotionally abusive spouse. The visionary company president might head home to drown his hidden depression in a nightly bottle of vino.

Savoie’s quote should be tattooed on our brains so that we quit imagining that we are a mess and everyone else is fine. Yes, do recognize your flaws and faults and try to do better. Just know that to greater or lesser extent, we all have emotional frailties and wounds left over from childhood that make us feel unsettled, anxious, and insecure. The fortunate among us may have fewer scars than the rest of us; still others are highly adept at covering then up. Remember, we are all vulnerable and imperfect creatures, and the wisest among us know that life couldn’t be any other way.