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It’s useful to have expectations, but not if they’re unrealistic and leave you disappointed. And since disappointment is one of the emotions that may drive unwanted eating, it’s far better to have reasonable expectations, even if that means giving up some of your most cherished hopes and dreams. A place to start is with acknowledging human limitation.
One characteristic of disregulated eaters is not wanting to feel emotional discomfort, so instead of seeing life as it is (sometimes a bit on the yucky side), it’s more comfortable to construct an appealing reality. Such as believing that if you try hard enough to put forth your needs, people will change to meet them. That way you don’t have to change and accept that some folks simply cannot and will give you what you want and need.
Why? Because they have limitations. Humans are short on life skills and long on not wanting to be uncomfortable. We lack life skills because we weren’t taught them by our parents who weren’t taught them by their parents and so on and so forth going all the way back to the first humans. It’s okay that we and others have limitations. It’s not okay that we don’t recognize this fact and, instead, twist ourselves like pretzels (or eat them) to avoid seeing this glaring truth.
For example, you might wish that Mom would stop criticizing your weight and for once just love you as is or that Dad would please put down the newspaper when you’re trying to tell him about your big promotion at work. If you’ve repeatedly asked Mom to be more accepting and Dad to be more interested and this hasn’t happened, it probably won’t ever happen. Your choices are to keep hoping for change and 100% of the time be disappointed or to recognize that things are going to remain the same. So much of our heartbreak—and emotional eating—comes from wanting things we can’t have. And not because we don’t deserve them. Other people changing is often one of those things.
People sometimes change because they wish to be different, but that doesn’t happen frequently enough. Other times they change because not changing will bring them more discomfort than changing. For example, a spouse may behave better to keep the marriage afloat, but only when faced with divorce. So, figure out which people are probably not going to change in your life and, I promise, you’ll feel less disappointment. You might be a little sad giving up your hope but, for the most part, you’ll also feel wiser, relieved, and more mature. Maturity means facing reality squarely, recognizing human limitation, and accepting that such is life. It’s not so hard once you get the hang of it.
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