One major hurdle for disregulated eaters who’ve struggled with food for a long time is believing in recovery. Perhaps you believe there’s a truth that says you won’t or can’t have a positive relationship with food and eat “normally.” What you don’t realize is that this so-called truth is only a story that you tell yourself over and over.
Not a week goes by in which a client or message board member ( HYPERLINK "http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings" http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings) doesn’t say something like, “I’m impulsive,” “I just can’t do this,” “It’s too hard,” or “I’ll never be a “normal” eater.” When I question how they know this with such certainty, they point to previous behavior. Then I point out that what’s going on is circular reasoning: perhaps they’ve had problems with food because they keep telling themselves they do. They then generally argue that their point of view is right or “the truth.” I come back just as adamantly that their alleged “truth” is merely one story among many.
Why are you so attached to your version of your life, or more specifically to your story around food? I confess, it’s frustrating to know that perfectly bright, competent people are constantly serving up the same misconceptions to themselves, then living them out in an endless negative loop. We love our truth because it makes us feel comfortable and safe. Keeping options open—that you can develop a rational relationship with food—can be scary because it involves giving up false beliefs. Not to be confusing, but here’s how I see things: We want to change our story, but we can’t do it until we change our story. Or, more accurately, until we realize that there is no truth about ourselves except that we can change our stories! If you are desperate for a truth to hang on to, how ‘bout that one—that we are not one way or another because we have been one way or another, but because we keep mistaking our past for our future.
Our stories started in childhood when we were told things and treated a certain way and our child mind made up a story to go along with circumstance. But stories change; we create our stories as we go along. One of my stories was, I’m not a writer. Well, now my story is that I am. Where is the truth—in the first or second story? Trick question because there is no truth. Or I was a compulsive eater and now I’m a pretty “normal” eater. Where is the truth there? If you’re smart, you’ll recognize that self-perception changes with circumstance. The fact is, we are one way until we become another. We are unskilled before we become skilled, ignorant before we become knowledgeable, disregulated eaters before we become “normal” eaters. And that’s the whole story.