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Last week I wrote an article on values and encouraged you to write out a list of your own and to contrast your list of values with your current reality. How did you do?
I guarantee you that if you’re struggling with an eating disorder (overeating, restricting or purging) the way you are living your life now does not jive with your core values.
What’s exciting about that statement is that it means that if you get clear on what your ideal/desired values are and you challenge yourself to begin to truly live from them you will immediately feel significantly more peaceful and relaxed in yourself and in your world; your anxiety will diminish greatly and your need for food to cope will cease to exist. Yes, it’s true.
Another way of saying that is that the only reason you struggle with disordered eating in the first place, or anxiety or depression for that matter is because you are going against your core values somewhere in your life. This violation of your true self, your inner conscience, creates a sense of separation and a lack of trust and safety within yourself. The more you act in ways that compromise the values you believe in, the more anxious and alienated you feel and the more insecure you are overall. Another way of saying that is that when you go against your core values you are out of integrity. And when you’re out of integrity you feel guilty, bad, wrong, ashamed, embarrassed, and just plain anxious. (Are any of those familiar to you?)
When we act from a place of integrity, honoring our core values, it doesn’t matter if someone is mad at us, threatening us, blaming us for their sadness or their life, we have empathy for them without taking it on. We know that our responsibility first and foremost is to honor our core values because if we do that, we truly are doing our best for that person; for our friends and family and our society. It’s true.
Think about it, does anyone truly gain when you lie for them? Does anyone truly benefit from you compromising your commitments to yourself or others for them? No. Maybe in the short term it might seem like it. But really, very quickly, the relationship begins to suffer from the lack of respect and integrity; resentment and insecurity build and what could have been a very lovely friendship or partnership turns sour. And when you step in to try and “fix” things for someone else by taking responsibility for their actions or needs you’re sending that person a message of disrespect. In essence you are saying “I don’t think you’re capable of handling this on your own so I’m going to do it for you.” It’s hard to build a healthy connection that way. It establishes a sense of dependency and imbalance that is hard to overcome.
In the immediate moment it might seem like a good idea to compromise yourself to make someone happy or to meet their needs in some way. It isn’t. “But what could it hurt, just this little bit, just this once, if it makes them happy?” you say? Lots. You will end up paying the price tenfold as will the relationship. You’ll feel anxious and insecure. You’ll feel compromised and taken advantage of. You’ll set a precedent for the next time this person has this problem or need and it is harder then, to set a different boundary. You’ll feel bad. And I suspect that you’ll use food to cope. That’s a big price for not saying no to a dinner invitation or to giving someone a ride etc. But that’s the price you pay each time you go against your core values and needs to “make” someone else happy or to avoid their anger or disappointment in you.
So, take the time to make that ‘Values List’ if you haven’t yet and then look at the primary relationships in your life and see if any of them, as they are currently operating, require you to compromise yourself in any way. Make a list of the little and big things that you do that don’t feel right to you or of the dynamics between you and the other person that leave you feeling controlled and disrespected or frustrated.
There is a good chance that those things are happening because you’re allowing your core values to be compromised and chances are those things couldn’t even begin to happen if you honored your core values.
Check it out and let me know what you discover.
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