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Many people with eating problems don’t trust themselves, not only around food, but to make wise decisions for themselves in numerous arenas. Self-distrust is learned in childhood and is often confused with not knowing what you think or feel. Difficulty identifying thoughts and emotions is different from distrusting what you experience. Think of self-knowledge as the precursor to self-confidence.
Trusting yourself comes after knowing what’s going on inside you. Labeling emotions in the most specific way possible provides this information. Yes, you have to trust that the label you put on feelings is accurate, but emotions are only a piece of the information puzzle. Assuming that you are able to identify affective states all or most of the time, you possess the major skill for developing self-trust. Of course, if you’re uncertain about what you feel or suffer from self-doubt, particularly when you’re in emotional distress, you’ll have to work on believing in yourself as well.
Another essential skill is using judgment along with emotions to make decisions, about food and everything else. Feelings are in the affective realm; judgment is in the cognitive realm. They work hand and hand to complement each other and enhance life. Employing good judgment means noting your emotions, thinking about them in the context of a decision, considering and anticipating consequences, and understanding that feelings have their place in guiding us but should not rule the roost.
Theoretically at least, once you identify your feelings and assess a situation cognitively, you should be good to go. If you make a suitable decision, that is, one that makes you proud and benefits you in the long run, you’re building self-trust or the ability to have faith in your wisdom. Of course, everyone makes mistakes and you have to factor that in. Because you make an occasional blooper does not mean you’re not trustworthy (That’s an example of all-or-nothing thinking, which you’re working on eliminating, aren’t you?). Maybe you misjudged because you lacked sufficient information or had enough but didn’t assess it correctly. Or maybe you made an informed decision, but life took a sudden twist and things not working out had nothing to do with your choice.
Practice self-trust. It is not a commodity, but a skill which needs to be honed. It is not something which is either there or not there. You may trust yourself in some areas but not in others. That’s natural and normal. As you build self-trust, you’ll gain confidence and your decisions will be better and better in a self-enhancing, positive feedback loop.
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