ReConnections Blog

By Melinda Brett on 6/20/2013 12:00 AM

“Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
-Albert Einstein

How much we limit ourselves!!  before we have even tried something.   One of the topics that is often explored in counseling is our self concept, essentially how we see ourselves.  So many times, we develop ideas of who we are by the accomplishments or failures in our lives. 

One of the toughest things to hear is that people judge themselves by what their life experience has thus shown itself to be.  The problem is that we are all inherently limited by our own experiences.  I have yet to meet a person that has experienced everything that life can offer.  What we do though is take what we have experienced and generalize it to the whole.

The child that didn’t get a piece in the art show decides they are not artistic.  The student that doesn’t earn A's decides they are not intelligent. The girl who doesn’t get asked to the prom decides she is unlovable.

In my work with people with overeating disorders one of the common views is that they see themselves as not athletic.  When I ask what their experience has been with athletics they usually mention one or two team sports and running.  If they have deemed themselves unsuccessful at these, they have then concluded that they are not athletic.  That is a very limited view of athletic prowess and yet they have avoided physical activity because of not feeling they excelled during those few experiences.  When I asked if they have ever been hiking, or canoeing, or dancing or biking they usually admit they have never tried.

How often do we hold ourselves back from trying new things because we have already decided we would not be good or successful.    How much change could we create in our lives if we believed that we just haven’t found the right thing…yet?

By Melinda Brett on 6/3/2009 12:00 AM

This is my question…Why are people always blamed for not being able to “stay on a diet?”   Why are they scolded and shamed when they “don’t eat the way they are supposed to?”  Why are they described (or describe themselves) as lacking will power, having no self control, being overly controlling?  More importantly, why do we believe it?  They are all messages that are so frequently communicated and yet they are completely untrue.  People trying to control their appetite, their eating and their bodies are some of the strongest willed people I’ve ever met.

It’s not a matter of being weak willed, it’s a matter of needing food because it serves a purpose.   We’re not people that eat to live, we’re people who live to eat.  We use food as a substance.  We use food to change our feelings.  We use food the way others may use alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, sex.  Many of us have tried all of those too.

But food is what works…in that moment.  In that moment, when we restrict, overeat, purge, we feel ok.  Ok in that we don’t feel as bad, sad, anxious, miserable as we do when we try not to use it.

It’s like our magic formula.  When used in the right way, in the right combination, in the right ritual we have found a way in that moment to escape pain.   It comforts us, it relaxes us, it helps us not be overly emotional. If we’re angry we can turn to it and avoid having conflict with others.  We love it and hate it all at the same time. We want to be rid of it and yet can’t imagine parting with it.

The biggest myth of all, however, is that we believe if we can just figure out a way to control our eating we will be better.  The belief that our problems lie in our bodies is false.  The truth is that the solution does not lie in trying to control our eating, the answer lies in remembering how to eat without using food as a substance. The answer lies in finding other ways to feel loved, accepted and relaxed.

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