This blog post was originally posted on recoverywarriors.com on October 18, 2016 and can be found here.
If you’re anything like me (and I’m sure you are, considering you’re reading an eating disorder blog!), then your brain has a tendency to take frequent field trips to the future. Oftentimes before we even realize it, our brains take off on a mission to find solutions to the billion “what ifs” that cross our minds (without us even asking for it to). Thanks, brain.
While I’m sure we can all agree that this type of “future tripping” (as us therapists like to call it) can hold us back from truly living in the present moment, here’s one way we can put that futuristic thinking to good use. I want you to take a second to think on this simple, yet profound question: What do you want to be remembered for most after you die?
Now, hear me out. I get that death isn’t exactly a “fan favorite” topic, but bear with me here for a second. Seriously think about this: When everyone is standing around at your funeral some day, what do you want them to say about who you were and what you were all about?
Now, I’m no mind reader, but I can pretty much guarantee that your answer is NOT that you want to be known for having a thin body, for being in shape, or for eating really clean and healthy. In fact, if that’s all that people were saying about you at your funeral, I’m sure you’d be pretty dang peeved to have your life be condensed to such trivial things.
Yet…when you’re in the throws of an eating disorder, those things can oftentimes feel like all that matters. When your mind becomes so consumed with losing weight (or preventing weight gain, whichever way you spin it), much of your time, energy, and focus gets devoted to things like counting calories, researching the nutritional content of foods, rigidly/compulsively exercising, weighing yourself multiples times a day, checking the size and shape of different parts of your body, etc.
And guess what? The time and energy that you’re devoting to those things is time and energy that you aren’t devoting to other things—things that probably, deep, deep down, matter more to you in the end than your body being a certain size, shape, or weight.
How sad would it be if you devoted your entire life to obtaining a certain ideal image of yourself, but ended up sacrificing your sanity, peace, freedom, individuality, pleasure, passion, fun, authenticity (need I go on?) in order to achieve it? What if this obsession led you to isolate yourself so much to the point where you aren’t sure who would even show up at your funeral?
That just can’t be how things go down. Not for you. Not for anyone. Our lives are worth so much more than that. And you, my friend, have so much more to give to this world than the way your body looks. (Not to mention that your body is temporary and won’t last forever).
What CAN have a lasting impact in this world is the legacy that each of us leaves behind. So, what DO you want your legacy to be? What do you want to be known for? What do you want to stand for in this life? What do you want to contribute to this world?
Let the answers to those questions be your guide for how you spend your time and energy and where you place your focus on a day-to-day basis. If, for example, you want to be known for being caring and creative, think of how you can align your actions with those values, and how the eating disorder often holds you back from living out those values to their fullest extent.
Friends, don’t let the eating disorder’s agenda pull you away from the purpose your life was intended to serve. Don’t let your body or how you eat define who you are. Don’t let yourself get sidetracked perfecting this temporary body of yours.
Instead, connect with what truly matters to you in the end and work to cultivate more of that in your life. Be true to who you really are and give the finger to society’s standards. Just do you. And your life, and all those you come into contact with, will be a lot better for it. This life is worth living and your authentic self is worth fighting for. Keep fighting the good fight, warrior.