Last week I was asked to write down my rules for living. My therapist believed that our early experiences shape our beliefs and opinions which in turn, affect our rules for living.
My rule book was as follows:
- If I’m thin, then I’m more beautiful. If I’m more beautiful then I’m more loveable
- If I’m thin then I’m more successful. If i’m more successful then i’m more recognised and loved
- If I restrict then I’m doing well. If I am doing well then I’m stronger
- If I obey Ed I feel like I am achieving. If I’m achieving then I’m more successful
- If I eat less than others, then I’m more superior. If I’m more superior then I’m more successful and therefore I’m achieving
- If I am thin then I am more liked. If I am more liked then I am less lonely
After writing this down, my overwhelming feeling was sadness. I felt sad that I was living by such harsh and painful rules.
Also, a lot of the rules are incredibly ironic. For instance, being thin didn’t make me more liked and less lonely. In fact, it made me lose friendships which made me more isolated. Similarly, being thin doesn’t make me more beautiful. It isn’t attractive to be thin. It is also insane that I thought being thin made me stronger and more recognised. The only person to gain strength and recognition throughout my anorexia was Ed…most definitely not ME!
So after being encouraged to move away from the “if…then’s…” I have come up with a new rulebook:
- LIVE LIFE WELL (This is a key new rule for me. It is time to start living. And to do so I need balance: Time for fun, time for work and time for relationships)
- To matter to me today, just the way I am (If this means other people don’t like me, that’s their problem, not mine.It is never possible to be liked by everyone, and having this belief will only lead to negative feeling and a loss of self-esteem)
- Take chances
Time to start following the rules!