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There’s a saying I once heard that goes something like this: We can’t fully evaluate the meaning of life events in the present, but must wait until its end to understand them. I vaguely recall that the concept had something to do with Western versus Eastern philosophy. The idea is that we get so caught up with what’s wrong with us and how to fix it right now, that we become engulfed by hopelessness and despair rather than take the long view of self-transformation to see where it will lead us.
Who would have thought in my worst binge-eating days that I’d become an expert on the subject—an international author and therapist, no less? Not me. But it is my misadventures with food that gave me the experience to become who I am today professionally (and personally). How bizarre that all that dieting and gorging led to something positive. I was young—in my teens, 20s and 30s—when all this unhealthy activity was going on. I don’t know that I thought much about whether or not I’d get better. I simply kept putting one foot in front of the other, hoping to change through reading, therapy, and pushing myself to be different. It helped that I was determined to succeed because I hated being unhappy and unhealthy.
Try viewing destructive eating behavior as transitory and believing that at some time in the future it will have an endpoint. Cultivate hope, especially when you’re prone to lament how hard recovery is and despair that you’ll ever change. You have to ditch the belief that you’re defective, that other people will succeed and you won’t, that somehow you’re cursed, undeserving, and destined to have eating problems the rest of your life.
The two major tasks ahead of you are believing you will change and getting appropriate help. I don’t care how hard you have to struggle for how long, if you don’t believe you can change and deserve to, you absolutely, positively won’t. Simple as that. Trite-sounding but true: Make up your mind to succeed and you will. Aim for change, not perfection. The second task is to get the right help when you need it. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. It makes you smart. Other activities that are useful include sharing what you’re going through, which involves some (but limited) commiserating and lots of pulling each other along as folks do in support groups and on message boards, and committing to psychotherapy (dabbling doesn’t do it).
Rather than think that you’ll be stuck with dysregulated eating the rest of your life, why not assume you won’t or that you won’t know the outcome until you get