Personally, I’ve found my eating disorder very disempowering, and I know a lot of other people do to. People who binge often feel that they are at the mercy of their compulsion to eat. As someone who restricts what I eat and when, I’ve come to behave as if the rules I’ve lived by for so long were imposed on me by something separate from me, and more powerful than me. In fact, on a subconscious level, I think I believe that they really are externally imposed rules – as if special food police are ready-and-waiting to arrest me if I dare to eat a BLT or eat my morning snack before 11am. My therapist would call this ‘faulty’ thinking…. most people would call it bonkers. In an effort to unlearn it, I’ve decided to remind myself constantly that I have free choice in everything I do: that I am responsible for me. When I start to feel guilty about ‘breaking’ a rule or start to feel trapped by my rules, I am trying to remember to say to ask myself: ‘what do you chose to do?’ That way, even when I’m making bad choices for myself, at least I’m acknowledging them honestly as my own decisions, reminding myself that I could have made different ones and reinforcing my sense of my own self-determination.
Interestingly, I've found this empowering not only when making decisions to do with eating, but also in the rest of my life. For example, yesterday I decided not to go out shopping with friends, but to spend the day studying at home instead (I'm taking a correspondence course). I was feeling so sorry for myself that it was distracting me from my work. I kept thinking, 'this is so unfair. My friends can go out and have fun, while I have to work. If I didn't have such pushy parents/ academic insecurities instilled in me by cruel primary school teachers/ such a puritanical drive to 'better myself' etc etc, then I could be having fun too!'. This went on and on until I stepped back and asked myself: 'What do I chose to do? It's not to late to call my friends. I could still go shopping'. I considered, then decided I'd rather get the work out of the way, so I wasn't trying to frantically do it after work over the next week. Decision made. I was able to go back to work feeling like a self-determining, responsible adult (well, for 10 minutes or so at least).