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There’s an I-won’t-grow-up quality to dysregulated eating. Denial of consequences or the childish hope of avoiding them. A rush from rebelling against authority, rules and being told what is right or what to do. Glee in getting away with something. The sly triumph of getting something for nothing. The magical belief of reaching goals without putting in a commensurate effort. Manipulation of others into setting your food boundaries, then resenting the hell out of them for doing just that. Yearning for what other people have without doing the work. Being ruled by irrational fears. Avoiding discomfort and pain. Giving in easily. Doing only what feels good and still expecting to have a great life.
If you recognize yourself in these descriptions, sit a moment with your awareness. If you feel a ping of shame, that’s okay. A ping is just right. No need to do a number on yourself about how pitiful you are. Instead, view your shame as an adult reminder that you’ve chosen not to grow up emotionally (at least in the area of food). You have good reasons, I’m sure, but it’s pointless to dwell on them or to shame yourself mercilessly for not living up to your or others’ expectations for yourself. Let go of the self-pity as well. You likely were a victim of some sort in childhood, but that time has long passed.
Consider what emotionally mature adults would do when they recognize their shortcomings. They’d neither deny nor beat themselves up over them. They wouldn’t sink into self-pity nor feel entitled to a better life without having worked for it. Instead, they’d take complete responsibility for becoming who they want to be and come up with an action plan for change. They’d face reality without self-judgment, but with amazement and joy that they have the power to improve. They’d figure out the skills they’re missing and learn them. They’d stop saying they can’t change (that’s what children do when it’s hard) and start saying they’ll take small steps to move forward though they’re bound to stumble getting to where they want to go.
Your dysfunctional family, genetic loading, mental health problems, poverty, trauma or whatever you suffered as a child landed you where you are. And now, the responsibility for changing is 100% yours. It’s time to stop blaming your parents or anyone else for your eating. And, it’s a copout to tell yourself you can’t succeed because of all the times you’ve failed, to say you’re addicted, or to blame depression or low self-esteem. Quit saying “It’s hard” and “I’ve tried” and “I can’t.” Wipe those words from your vocabulary slate. Replace them with, “I can do this” or “I’ve got this” and “I will succeed.” Any other words are self-defeating, so ditch them.
Take these words to heart: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man [or woman], I put away childish things.”(https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13%3A11&version=KJV, accessed 1/26/19) If you refuse to grow up now, when do you think it’s going to happen? I guarantee you: It won’t—ever.
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