Hello everyone. Welcome to our April blog.
I work often with clients who are struggling with their relationship with food and their body. It is work, as with all my interactions, that I love.
How we move beyond eating and weight struggles is as individual as the person I am talking with; however, one of the themes I see most often in recovery from eating struggles is body acceptance – a search for a body that somehow seems ‘acceptable’ to live in. This is something many people experience, whether they have a diagnosed Eating Disorder or not.
What if we do not have to search? What if we already have that body? What if every body is an acceptable body? Imagine that! So often we look else where and fail to find what we are looking for because what we seek is never elsewhere. It is right within us already.
I spent 15 years living with Anorexia Nervosa before I realised my search for acceptance on the outside needed to be directed inside. During those 15 years I had many episodes of treatment which restored my weight, only for me to lose the weight and return to a skeletal body, which still did not feel good enough. You see, after a childhood of taunting for being overweight, I innocently learned to believe that if I were thin enough, I would be ok and, what is more, other people would think I was ok. I somehow believed that the size of my body determined whether I was good enough or not.
Initially, losing weight gave me a sense of achievement. I started to believe life would be great when I reached a certain size, a certain weight. Unfortunately, before long, searching for a great life through changing my size became the problem, not the solution. My mind, as minds do, had created a habitual belief about losing weight being helpful, which I pursued relentlessly without stopping to consider whether the belief was ‘the’ truth or ‘my’ truth.
It’s a bit like looking to buy a new home because we don’t like the brickwork. The home we already have has all we need – the ideal number of rooms, running water, heating, electricity, a kitchen and a bathroom. Of course, we may have preferences for how the outside looks, but if the inside is already perfect for us, does the brickwork really make so much difference?
For many people with a difficult relationship with food and body image, including my previous self, the focus is almost totally on the ‘brickwork’ – the appearance. We seek a perfect-looking home without any attention to the perfection of the home in which we already live. Strangely we often choose only to change the outside, when once inside our home, we do not even notice the outside. It is curious then, that we seek a body which looks good over and above whether it works for us. We seek something other, instead of stopping to appreciate and love what we have already.
Happiness, peace of mind and physical wellbeing do not come from looking outside of us, or from changing the ‘brickwork’. They always come from within. We do not need to change – we already have all we need within us. We have just innocently stopped seeing that.
I only began to truly live beyond Anorexia when I realised that I was, and always had been, deeply enough, just as I was. I had been seduced by what others said and thought and started to believe that being ‘different’ was bad or wrong. As I started to bring love, acceptance, and gratitude to who and what I already was, to the ‘home’ I already dwelt in, I naturally began to focus on my inner experience and the depth of my ability to live with freedom and acceptance grew beyond measure.
I want to share with you that I deeply see that we cannot create a new ‘home’, a different body, from judgements, self-loathing or trying to please others. We will never feel comfortable if the outside is perfectly painted and attended to, but the inside is run down, empty and void of love and comfort. We do not choose a ‘home’ for the benefit of others who will never stay there. We have our home already – a home that is right for us, that meets our needs and feels comfortable and secure to us.
My hope for you, for us all, is that we dwell in comfort, love and acceptance in our own perfectly unique homes. Switch on your light, light your fire and feel the warmth and comfort from within.