A great many people. think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their predjucies – William James
Not many people understand that the human mind has two main functions; a thinker and a prover.
Whatever the thinker thinks, the prover proves that thought to be true. So, if a person thinks they are stupid, their prover proves that thought to be true. If a person thinks they are clever, the prover will prove that to be true also.
Over time, the circumstances of your life come into line with whatever you have been thinking.
Sound far fetched?
Your life conditions are a result of what you have been thinking and feeling over time.
One of my clients, Isabelle was a 1st year university student when I met her for the first time. She was delightful, gregarious and incredibly intelligent both emotionally and intellectually but there was a dark secret she had kept hidden about herself for over 8 years.
Like many young women Isabelle fell prey to the idealistic standards of how she should look, what she should wear and how she should present herself to the world from a very early age. Her generation was the first to be fully exposed to smart media, social media and everything else the internet and streaming television can bring into your life. She was seduced by the beauty of models, clothes designers and her older peers and imagined them all having the most wonderful life because of how they looked and presented themselves to the world. In her adolescent thirteen year old mind Isabelle made a decision that this was the life she desired above everything else. She wanted to look, sound and be exactly the same as the images of the women surrounding her.
Utterly doable for a thirteen old right? Of course not. Her adolescent body was transforming as the hormonal changes that rage through our systems in our teenage years establish the next phase of our physicality, preparing us for motherhood. Her breasts grew far bigger than the models she adored, her tummy became rounded and wobbly. Her thighs and hips laid down fat deposits. You see puberty is a sequence of events in which physical changes occur, resulting in adult physical characteristics and the capacity to reproduce. Isabelle did not like what was happening to her and despised the changes that were unfolding in her body. Her body did not look like the women she admired. She became obsessed with staying slim.
She was fed up feeling upset and wanted to feel numb. She wanted to take back power over her own body. She wanted to be in control. So, she ate, self soothing the feelings of disgust and intolerance she had for the changes happening in her body.
Then, she purged, made herself sick and just like that, a self-destructive cycle of bulimia began in Isabella’s life.
Compulsive behaviours such as restricting, bingeing and purging even in my own experience have been almost always a way to manage overwhelming anxiety caused by stress. Her eating disorder behaviour was a physical representation of her anxiety and stress when she didn’t have words for what was going on in her life or what she was thinking.
It was like she was telling herself that she had all this stress, and all of this anxiety and this was the only way to get rid of this incredibly uncomfortable feeling.
Her state of mind was if I’m stressed and overweight its far worse than being slim and calm even if I have to purge this food from my body. She had found her new strategy and belief to stay thin and resemble those she admired. She hid her secret well and became intoxicated by the support, praise and infatuation from her friends as they themselves struggled with gaining weight during puberty and beyond yet Isabelle looked to be sailing through these huge hormonal changes like a swan gliding across the water. She was the only one that knew she was furiously paddling underneath the water to maintain her composure in public whilst also retaining her slim body shape whilst she controlled the ever increasing feelings of anxiety and stress growing within her.
Isabelle kept this secret of binging and purging to herself for eight years, telling no one of her struggles for the fear and shame of being judged and ridiculed behind her back by her peers.
But one day Isabelle had a rare but insightful defining moment that compelled her to find help.
She was listening to a podcast where one of my peers wanted to find out more about my definition of self harm. In my experience there is a great deal of similarity and intention between self harm and all forms of eating disorders, addiction and sabotage behaviours. Isabelle had never considered this before and was immediately struck by the harm she was causing her body.
She had never thought of it before as a form of self-harm.
In my coaching practice experience, clients with bulimia will say that their self-critical thoughts are extremely powerful and disruptive and it is very easy to see how people distract themselves from these with self soothing behaviours.
With several coaching calls Isabelle began to understand the concepts of how she was using the power of thought to direct her life in a way that made sense to her as a thirteen year old child who lacked the emotional intelligence to articulate her thoughts and feelings. She began to understand how simply and easily we can create strategies, behaviours and habits from our early years that are no longer necessary later in our lives. Yet, we unconsciously run these programs without the slightest knowledge we are doing so until someone points us in the direction of how we can update our understanding of how the world really works via our mind, body and soul, together as one.
No matter how hopeless life seems, there is hope and life on the other side of an eating disorder. Please give recovery a true and honest effort. It is not a linear journey, so show yourself some grace and forgiveness in the process. … Life gets better. Make sure you’re there to see it.
The Unashamedly Human School is launching in November so if you or anyone you know is suffering from an eating disorder please sign up to get more information and key launch dates so that you and your loved ones can hear something new to finally let go of what no longer serves them or you…….