Many people who suffer with disordered eating also suffer with a fear of being out of control. The two go hand in hand. Dieting and attempting to control your body’s size and shape are all ways to pretend to be in control of something. However, what is so often forgotten is that these attempts are the very things that you can’t control. Overeating and under eating is not control, it is fear.
The things you do have control over, i.e. yourself, involve taking risks and facing fears and other emotions. It may seem hard, painful, and/or scary. However, I assure you, it is easier to do than attempting to control things that you have no control over, i.e. others.
For example, you can’t force your best friend to stop dating a guy you don’t like. However, you can work on your feelings toward your friend’s choices; which is about you, not about your friend.
Below are some examples of things you have control over and things you don’t.
Examples of areas we have control over and need to take risks in order to grow:
- Your attitude
- Your behavior
- Your actions
- Your boundaries
- What you say and who you say it to
- If, how and to whom you express emotions
- Who your friends are
- Who you have sex with
- Where you live
- What you do for work
- What you do for self care and fun
- Your values and belief systems
- What family members you stay connected to
- What self talk you allow to continue
- Whether you do personal growth work or not
- What you eat or don’t eat
Examples of areas we have no control over and need to surrender:
- What other people think of you
- What other people say about you
- Other people’s life decisions
- Other people’s thoughts/feelings
- Other people
- Your genetic body type
- The past
- Life, just as it is
- Things that are inevitable
- Grief and loss
- Whether or not people want to be with you
- Whether or not people are honest
- Intimacy, which requires risk and vulnerability
The next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, ask, “Do I have control over this?” “What do I have control over?” “What can I change?” Keep in mind all the energy you have expended attempting to control something you had no control over. Like hitting your head against a brick wall, it is exhausting and lead you nowhere.
Contemplate the listed examples above to help you decide the answer and to figure out what to take action on… something that will actually produce the change, growth, and healing that you seek.
When you choose to focus on things out of your control, you are sabotaging yourself, avoiding yourself. Your feelings, and your emotional pain. Of course, addressing this is frightening. However, this is what leads you back to a poor relationship with food and your body, and constant frustration when nothing every changes.
Challenge yourself to recognize an area in which you are trying to control something on the “can’t control this” list and change your focus to an area you can control. It may mean acknowledging and expressing some emotions, drawing some boundaries such as saying “no”, or creating a little distance. Seek help from a friend or family member. Choose someone who will support you in looking at yourself, not someone who will collude with your focus on things out of your control.
As you do this more, you will begin to grow, to change and to feel more empowered.