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A friend and colleague, psychotherapist/life coach Dr. Karma Kitaj, sent me psychologist Abraham Maslow's list of self-actualizing qualities. They speak to the life skills and attitudes that troubled eaters need to acquire in their quest to become “normal” eaters. As you read them over, think, “Which ones do I have? Which ones do I need to learn?”
To be what Maslow calls self-actualized, you need to do the following:
See problems in terms of challenges and situations requiring solutions, rather than as personal complaints or excuses.
Respect your need for privacy and be comfortable being alone.
Be reliant on your own experiences and judgment—be independent—not on culture and environment to form your opinions and views.
Not be susceptible to social pressures—be comfortable being a non-conformist.
Be democratic, fair and non-discriminating, which means embracing and enjoying all cultures, races and individual styles.
Be socially compassionate, possessing humanity.
Accept others as they are and not try to change people.
Be comfortable with yourself, despite any unconventional tendencies.
Have a few close intimate friends rather than many surface relationships.
Have a sense of humor directed at yourself or the human condition, rather than at the expense of others.
Be spontaneous and natural, true to yourself, rather than how others wish you to be.
Be excited and interested in everything, even ordinary things.
Be creative, inventive and original.
Notice how you feel reading the list: excited about self-growth; like a failure because of your perceived deficits; scared that you’ll never achieve these qualities; or conflicted about whether to strive for them or not. Some pointers in moving forward. The first step is to tell yourself that you will be able to grow in these directions. Remember, these attributes are all learnable at any age. Next, pick one or two which interest you and seem doable and focus on improving in those areas. Recognize that this process will take time and effort. Aim for progress not perfection. Consider role models who embody the qualities you desire, study what they do, and copy their behavior or thinking. Acknowledge and build on the attributes you already have. View the learning experience as a challenge not a chore. Determine that you will change and you will!
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