Updated: May 13, 2020
Life is a stream of choices. Everyday we make the choice about what to wear, what we're going to do, and who we're going to see. In the same way, we also make daily choices about what we're going to eat.
When we were born into this world, we used our intuition to make all of our decisions. We would intuitively eat, move, and respond to our environment. But somewhere along the line, in an effort to feel safe and grounded, we learned that using rules and guidelines was the safest and smartest way to control our choices.
I am a victim of this conditioned learning as well, and often find myself labelling my days as either "good" or "bad" to make judgments about myself and my willpower. I either label myself as "on track," following my rules and decisions perfectly, or "a failure." This black and white thinking is at the root of much of my eating disorder, and the direct connection my mind created between my choices and my perceived self worth was so clearly defined that it drove the majority of my disordered behaviors. I had hundreds of expectations set for myself - whether it was about academics, my social life, or my appearance - and I needed to reach these expectations otherwise I was a failure. Only when I achieved all of my self created goals, was I worthy of experiencing life and happiness, of experiencing connection and love.
One thing I wish I could say to sick self is to learn from my experiences and move on. Not to ruminate and judge. Not to fixate on the details and live in regret of what I could have done differently. Being human means making mistakes. Being human means learning from every choice we make, and to move on with our lives.
When I was deep in my eating disorder, I was so fixated on making sure everyday was a "success" so my mind was constantly plagued with thoughts about food and exercise. About numbers and rules, about rituals and measurements. To me, if my day was a "success," I could fall asleep that night feeling safe and worthy. This feeling of safety was only temporary though, of course, and everyday I would fight and kill over trying to experience this fleeting sense of relief.
In judging my days and immediately labelling them as good or bad, based on one decision made, I lived in a two dimensional, black and white world. There was no room for grey space, and there was no room for growth. Everyday was a mirror of the previous day, and as long as I did what I did in the past (or one upped myself and engaged in even more behaviors), I was okay. But only for that night. In the morning, I would wake up and the cycle would begin all over again. Would the day be a success or failure? Because to me, that meant that on any given day, I had a repertoire of criteria to judge my self worth. At the end of the day, I could sleep knowing that I was okay, or cry and beat myself up in the hopes of being better the following day.
Be human. Learn. Move on.
Don't live in the same cycle of labels and judgements. That's not a life worth living. Be more flexible with your appraisals, and make space for neutrality.
Inhale strength, love, connection, and worth.
Exhale expectations, fear, stress, and judgments.