Stop Rebelling and Take Better Care of Yourself
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (Wikipedia, retrieved 5/4/18, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1_Corinthians_13)
Although I’m a secular person, this bible quote (in reality, an afterthought to this blog) aptly describes what I want to say. I know I’m taking a more direct tack here than I usually do but, honestly, I’m not sure how to awaken clients and other dysregulated eaters to the fact that time’s a wastin’. I can only do my best to speak to you as mature people, which includes laying out some unavoidable and perhaps harsh truths.
You can rebel against eating rules and how others want you to look or eat, or you can be an adult and take effective care of yourself no matter what others think or say—but you can’t be or do both. If you’re attached to an overt or covert rebellion that began in childhood and continues to this day, you’ll never reach emotional maturity or have a “normal” relationship with food (or people)—unless you give up childlike behavior and act in your best interest.
Some of you may be conscious of rebelling and some of you may not be. For those who don’t recognize that you’re still railing against childhood attempts to control you, ask yourself: Can I feel myself get angry and resentful when people tell me what to do—or eat or weigh—and is my urge to get back at them by doing the opposite? Is my impulse to do what I want behind their backs? Even if you can’t feel the anger but regularly act to defy, oppose, or sneak, you’re still behaving rebelliously. Either way, you’re reacting like a child who’s hurt and wants to hurt back, so that you do what the other person doesn’t want you to do—and hurt yourself in the process.
“So there,” you think. “I’ll show you.” Really, are you showing them or simply doing damage to yourself? Does this vengeful attitude make you proud or ashamed? What do you think you’re proving? That you can do whatever you want? You can, but if it’s not beneficial, why do it? If you’re not acting in your best interest, what you end up doing is making poor decisions for yourself. In truth, it’s painful to watch adult clients try to feel triumphant by doing what’s obviously wrong for them. It makes me feel helpless and sad. Week after week I wonder, will they ever grow up; how can I help them to do so?
If you’re not ready to think for yourself and do what’s best for you now—even if it’s what your parents/spouse/friends/partner/children want, when will you be ready? As I said, you can’t have it both ways. Either you think and behave like an adult or you’ll resent people treating you like a child perhaps for the rest of your life, because if you act like one, they may well treat you like one. Or they simply will feel sorry for you and pity your stuckness.
If you wish to leave your eating problems behind, you have to want to be an adult inside and out, to the fullest extent possible. That means doing what’s best for you even if it’s also what other people want. Even if it makes them right and happy. It entails forgoing rebellion and revenge, defiance, doing things behind their backs, and acting out in other ways. It involves stopping childlike—yes, and childish—behavior and growing up into the adult you were always meant to be.
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