Updated: Oct 9, 2020
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If you have struggled with any eating disorder for any amount of time, you know the frustration. The annoyance of hiding every weird habit. The disappointment of having to make another excuse. All along having the desire to be ordinary and have a normal relationship with food.
Have you been so angry that you threw up your hands and walked away from it all, just to binge the next day because you didn't know how to fix it? We have all been there: wanting to change, but not knowing how.
What if I told you one simple action could solve all your problems?
You might say, "No way! Just one? There has to be an insanely complicated plan that involves standing on one leg and holding your left ear while drinking greenish-brownish liquid to recover."
Nope. Just one switch.
Freedom VS Responsibility
Life has two sides: freedom and responsibility. Freedom is the ability to do or say anything you want. Responsibility is the requirement to do or say something. Accountability is the side of you that builds rules for your life to keep you safe. In many ways, life is a balance between the two.
In the case of your eating disorder, freedom has run rampant. It has allowed you to do whatever you want when it comes to your health. Responsibility is nonexistent, and you can't say no to anything.
An individual without an eating disorder has created a life balanced between responsibility and freedom. Every time they listen to their body and stop eating when they are full, they fulfill their body's requirements. These individuals have improved their quality of life because they have taken responsibility for their bodies.
Imagine cows in a pasture. The field has a fence to keep the cows inside. They have the freedom to go wherever they want inside the pasture. The owner built the wall to prevent the cows from walking on the road, not to prevent them from eating the grass on the other side. Fences are built for a reason, and when placed correctly, they are helpful.
They say the first step to recovering from any dilemma is admitting that you have a problem. That is an excellent example of taking responsibility: admitting you have a problem. You acknowledged there is something wrong, and you own it.
Take it one step further.
Take responsibility for binging, purging, starving, etc. No one else put that seventeenth cookie in your mouth. No one else bought those laxatives. No one else lied about what and when they ate lunch. You did it!
Besides admitting you have a problem, you also need to take responsibility for all the mistakes you have made along the way. All the times, you fell off the wagon. All the times, you binged. All the times, you skipped a meal. You are responsible for your ACTIONS.
What taking responsibility for your eating disorder does NOT mean?
For many people, there were outside forces that contributed to their eating disorders. These external forces could be life events, human interactions, or traumatic experiences. I am not talking about taking responsibility for those. Other people's actions are not your obligation. You are responsible for the ACTIONS and ESCALATION of your eating disorder - not the outside forces at work.
Suppose we take my eating disorder story as an example. It started with me sitting on the bench for my varsity volleyball team. I don't blame that coach for my problems. I don't blame my mom for suggesting I lose weight to become a better player. I don't blame my school's popular girls for being mean to me and pushing me further into my eating disorder.
I blame myself. My eating disorder is my fault. I take responsibility for not asking for help and for hiding it for so long. I take responsibility for the escalation of my condition. And it wasn't until I did that I was able to heal.
There is no one-size-fits-all in this situation. You aren't going to take responsibility for the same actions that the next person does. Everyone's story is unique, and you will have to face different hard truths than I do.
What happens when you take responsibility?
The short answer is life gets better. All your roadblocks become movable. If you blame your depression on your parent's divorce, you can't fix it because you can't fix your parents' divorce. If you blame your financial situation on your poor education, you will never improve your finances. If you blame your eating disorder on your mother shoving food down your throat, you will never change.
When you take responsibility for your life, you can't make any more excuses for your actions, and you can't hide from yourself. All of a sudden, you have all the power in your life, instead of being powerless.
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