I was listening to a podcast the other day, where the guest was talking about all the things she embodies now, all the new ways she defines herself, since developing a better relationship with herself.
And it reminded me of how I would try to make similar lists while I was in recovery, and how hard they were for me to do.
Every item I added to the list came with a, "Well, you're not always that way" or "You're not that way enough to justify putting it on a list defining you".
A feeling of pressure, like I was still needing to define myself by external benchmarks (no longer "I am someone who is skinny and fit" or "I am someone who is disciplined and has willpower", but external nonetheless) that had pass/fail grades.
How could I say "this list is who I am" when I wasn't perfectly exemplified by this list? How could these items be me, if they weren't always me?
I then had a beautiful talk with my mom about it - about the duality of life and of human beings, and about our shadow sides, and how Love is the only thing in the universe without an opposite. This conversation deeply resonated with me, and this podcast reminded me of all of this.
It reminded me of how helpful it was for me during my recovery to not put pressure on myself to define myself in new fixed ways to justify my recovery.
It reminded me of how I had to come to terms with the fact that I would not always be, "a loving daughter, an intelligent student, generous, kind, a loyal friend, big-hearted" - and that this was okay. I was human, and I would not always be these things, and to recover I needed my self acceptance, self love, self compassion, to be the strongest things in my life, not my variable attributes that could change when I was having a bad day/month. At least, this is how my perfectionistic brain interpreted this list at the time.
So I made a new list of who I was, and who I wanted to be more of, without my eating disorder. This gave me a lot of peace and hope, and a noticeable feeling of less pressure during my eating disorder recovery.
My new list was:
- I am a human being, with dark and light energies, who came to this earth to evolve and become more loving, less fear-bound, less turned on myself and others, more connected to others and my higher self.
- I am a human being who is working on becoming more self accepting, self loving, self compassionate and by extension more able to be this way with others.
- And the beautiful thing about this self acceptance, self love and self compassion is that they are what will make my life beautiful even when my list is not........When I am not a loyal friend, or a loving daughter, or an intelligent student, or big-hearted........When I am feeling really down, and self-centred, and not caring about being intelligent........I will have my Higher Self voice who will love me anyways.
- What are the things that might be on your first list that feel like a burden to you, that you know you can't always exemplify?
- What could you put on a new list that is more forgiving, and encompasses all of you, your love and your fear, your light and your shadow?
Sarah Rzemieniak is passionate about helping people recover from eating disorders and body image issues. Sarah previously worked as an eating disorder dietitian before recognizing that her true passion was in the coaching and counseling aspect of the work. She then became a certified eating disorder recovery coach through The Carolyn Costin Institute, where she was supervised and trained directly under Carolyn Costin, world-renowned eating disorder therapist. Sarah recovered from her own eating disorder, which fuels her passion for this work. She provides individual coaching in Victoria, BC Canada and online worldwide.
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