It’s Michelle here. I had a very interesting experience yesterday. I was interviewed by a t.v. station for a promotional piece on my presentation at the Health Show in Victoria this weekend. That wasn’t the interesting thing although the interviewer was extremely handsome! No, the interesting thing was that at the end of the interview the last question was: “What do you get out of doing this work? What’s in it for you?”
I immediately replied: “I get the gift of seeing someone who has been wrestling with issues of stress and control around food and body image for years finally understand that food is not the problem; when I see that light bulb go on and the awareness of a brand new and much easier way to approach food and life begin to take form in that person I know that their life is forever changed.” And this is the healing journey on eating disorders.
That answer was definitely true and it is a significant moment in the lives of my clients and in my own life as well. But, it was what I went on to say that brought me to tears and made me think even deeper than that.
I said “You see, when people first come to this process they are disillusioned. They have tried so many different diets and programs and they have lost hope. They keep trying because intuitively they know something has to change, but in many cases they’ve kept trying the same thing, diets. And because diets don’t work for someone who uses food to cope, they continue to experience defeat and continue to blame and judge themselves as flawed and lacking willpower. So my role when someone first comes to the centre is to hold the torch and let that person know there is hope; things will change; they can heal. I will hold that torch until they are able to hold it for themselves”
Well, tears came to my eyes when I said that. And I knew then that I had really struck the core of why I do what I do: It gives me such fulfillment and purpose to see someone, for whom hope was all but gone, come to life again and recognize their worth and power. To see someone shift their focus from the hoplessness and despair of what isn’t working or what hasn’t worked and learn a whole new set of tools for what will! That’s fulfillment for me.
And it got me thinking about Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchy of Basic Needs. If we are using food to cope we are absolutely using food and body focus in an attempt to meet needs for saftey and security and for love, acceptance and belongingness. That’s a fact. And the healing journey is about finding new and honoring ways to meet those needs.
But there is also a part in each and every one of us that aches to feel fulfilled and passionate about something; to know that we are making a difference in the world or in the lives of others. It is what Maslow called Self-actualization: The fulfillment of our life’s purpose.
Regardless of where you are in your healing journey you can begin to identify what it is you really feel passionate about and what it is you really want to be able to offer to the world. You can begin now to take steps to realize that vision. You don’t have to look or be any way other than you are right now to begin. In fact, I can guarantee you that focusing some of your energy of moving forward towards identifying and then pursuing your passion will take a big bite out of your use of food to cope.
Healing Journey on Eating Disorders and Hanging On to It
So, think about hope. Think about how much hope you carry in yourself for ever truly healing your relationship with food and with your body. Think about how much hope you carry for ever attaining or even identifying your life’s purpose.
Realize that a lack of hope around those things will lead to depression, apathy, lethargy, procrastination, frustration, resentment, envy, annoyance, sadness, isolation, fear, negative self-talk, bad body thoughts, worst case scenario thinking and other harmful coping strategies.
And offer yourself the thought that, even if you don’t know how to do it right now, you can be shown how to connect with your higher purpose in life; you can be supported to take the first steps on the path to self-actualization.
“Why would I want to do that?” you say. Well if any part of you would like to be rid of the coping strategies I just listed above, it’s one of the easiest and most pleasurable ways of doing just that.
So, think about the ways in which you currently bring hope to the lives of others, and, as long as it doesn’t compromise your self-care or healing journey: Do More of That!
And if there isn’t any way right now that you feel you are in that zone of self-actualization pick up some books on passion, aliveness, career development etc. My favorite book of this nature is: I could do anything if only I knew what it was. by Barbara Sher. I read it in my twenties and it helped me formulate the idea for and move forward with the creation of The CEDRIC Centre. It’s great!
We have copies in our lending library for those of you who live in Victoria.
So, think about holding a torch of light and hope for others and what burns in you to be expressed and shared. What light can you bring to the world? If you can answer that question: Get on it! Make it happen, or keep it up!
If you can’t answer that question, take action to find out.