What’s Your Story?
Everyone has a story, even if they don’t realize they’re living it out. It’s our view of our history—the reasons we are as we are and why we cannot be who we want to be. A story may be that you’re the exceptional one in your family, the overachiever, the one who made it and must remain perfect so that others can enjoy your success. Or that you’re the black sheep, the one left behind when everyone else went on to fame and fortune. Or that you’re the rebel flaunting convention, the idealist tilting at windmills, the drummer marching to her own beat.
When eating goes awry, we look to our stories to understand how we entered the dysfunctional food arena in the hopes of finding an exit. Sometimes the process helps us find out way out, but often, instead, we become invested in the telling of the tale as the sole explanation for our misery. We’re forever the child whose mother prized thinness yet stuffed us ‘til we were ready to burst, the adolescent eating secretly in her room to block out the fights her parents had in theirs, the good little girl who wanted to make everyone happy, the guy who never found the right woman and feels doomed to bachelorhood and Saturday nights in front of the tube, the abandoned mother who’s children grew up and away and whose husband is rarely there for her. We cling to our stories to justify overeating or food denial. We lean on them as a crutch, fearing that without them we won’t have excuses for our behavior.
While our stories may not be the only cause of our food problems, they often play a huge part in preventing us from resolving them. Although history can’t be changed, our view of it can be, along with today’s behaviors. When you alter your view of how you came to be the way you are, you give yourself permission to be different, to toss out that old script and write a new one. In the new script, you can begin creating a different story about yourself: that you’re able to overcome dysregulated eating, can make up your own mind about what to eat and weigh, don’t have to please everyone, can break family rules and still be loved, need not be the black sheep in the family, or can enjoy convention and still maintain your uniqueness.
If you don’t know what your story is, examine your core beliefs and themes of your life and you’ll find them. What are your constant complaints, excuses, reasons for not succeeding with overcoming dysfunctional eating? What statements do you make to yourself and others about not changing? Therein lies the storyline that’s running you. If it’s not a keeper, create a new story. When you change the story, you change your life.