The best way to understand yourself is with guided pencil and paper exercises. But are you ready to actually work on yourself? Or are you just wishing your relationship with food were different?
When I was a binge eater – for around 7 years at its worst, from the age of about 13-20 – it wasn’t that I wouldn’t try to heal myself. It’s just that all my focus was on trying to ‘stop doing’ all of the behaviours that were making me feel obsessed and out of control with food.
Stop eating cheese for a snack. Stop buying samosas. Stop leaving the library for a doughnut at 10:30am. Stop eating all the food from mine and my university housemates’ communal shop, and then going to bed for the whole afternoon.
When I was wanting to stop binge eating and overeating, for several years I didn’t look inside.
And I didn’t write anything down. I just made more resolutions in my head, more promises to myself, more opportunities to fail.
No wonder I felt increasingly depressed, incapable of change, unworthy of happiness, and self-hating.
I wanted to love myself, but the idea seemed vague. Also, I could hear my mum in my head, sneering at the concept of self-love, as if it were trite, Americanised, high-fiving, patronising team talk. And OK, in those days, ‘self help’ was a fairly new field, and some people were sceptical. I was probably sceptical too, until a little bit of that self-help saved my freakin life.
I didn’t outright work on ‘self-love’. That’s not how self-love works.
Self-love is the feeling you get when you connect to yourself.
Love is just connection. Love is when you pay someone, or yourself, attention.
If you struggle to make time for the REAL pencil-to-paper work, here’s a pep talk from a very enthusiastic coach (me).
When I healed from binge eating, bulimia and overeating, I just worked on getting to know my thoughts and beliefs about myself and my life better.
I came to understand that my attitude to food was linked so keenly to my sense of purpose in my life, to the portion of pleasure I thought I was deserving of (not much, unless I earned it).
Overeating so often comes down to how we push ourselves and our self-expectations. That’s why successful, hard-working people often overeat.
So much of my eating at the time was about procrastinating and the daunting expectations I had put on myself – I was eating because I was putting off admitting to hopes and dreams that I was scared to risk rejection to pursue. In my case at the time, it was theatre. I was scared to audition and go to drama school to learn to act.
After University, after I spent a couple of years healing from my binge eating and bulimia (I’ll never go back there! So liberating!), I was ready for my life. I was ready for love – I met my husband, who I’m still married to. And I was ready for a really tough, challenging, daring physical theatre school in Paris – Jacques Lecoq.
But overcoming binge eating didn’t happen by accident. It happened with hours spent with a notebook, exploring my beliefs, changing my thoughts.
So if you’ve downloaded one of my worksheets, and not actually done it. Now’s the time. Time spent with you is time well spent.
And time spent becoming happier is a better you for everyone else in your life too.