Sunday, June 19, 2011
Today is the first Monday, of many Mondays to come, being off of work due to a medical leave. My illness is psychological in nature, an eating disorder, which has resulted in some physical illnesses. As of today I would like to start to rediscover myself as a part of healing.
Previously I've dealt with my issues by managing my body image, taking on a lot of projects and setting the standards as being perfection. Now I've cut out many of my responsibilities to focus on myself and the treatment I need to do in order to get better. However, for the first time ever, I'm at a loss on how to start this personal project of self discovery. Waking up with nothing to do but whatever I want is causing major anxieties.
I have goals like being more in touch with myself, developing assertiveness, loving my inner beauty, appreciating my exterior appearance and being able to better control my destructive thoughts. I have no clue on the how to reach these goals. Any advice on how to start would be greatly appreciated. xo
Your question and situation are very serious, so I'm going to treat them with the utmost respect and care. Your life and happiness are at stake here.
I'm glad you're receiving therapy. I used to think it was a cop-out when Ann Landers reflexively told questioners to "get therapy" but, in your case, you have a real need for it. I hope therapy helps you sort out what's wrong and provides you with tools to improve. The perspective of a trained professional is often very useful to us in seeing things we're blind about.
Trying to be perfect is a common way people who are struggling wrestle with their demons. I know -- I used to be one of them. The idea, which is actually an illusion, is that if you're perfect, all your problems will disappear. But, they won't. You'll still have the same problems. And it takes Herculean effort to achieve perfection in anything. Some of that effort can usually be directed better elsewhere.
In 1764, the philosopher Voltaire wrote that "The perfect is the enemy of the good." He meant that trying to be perfect is not be worth the effort if it costs you in other ways. Good enough is better than failed, depressing attempts at perfection.
The goals you state are valuable ones, but they're indistinct. It's easy to say we want to become raise our self-esteem but harder to figure out how to do that. What I think you need to do is make your goals more concrete -- visualize them in a form that can be turned into action. For example, instead of saying you want to be more in touch with yourself, identify activities that do that for you (e.g., writing a journal) and commit to doing those activities.
Then, after you've done that, break down your goals into smaller sub-goals. It's easier to met a sub-goal on the path to a larger objective; plus, doing that is rewarding. You'll sense accomplishment in meeting sub-goals which will spur you to continue on the right path. Often, facing a big project like writing a 50-page term-paper is paralyzing whereas facing smaller steps toward the goal (e.g., doing research; sketching notes; writing an outline; drafting an opening chapter) can be attacked with more confidence.
I hope this advice helps. And please keep me posted with your progress. I care!
** If any of you readers have suggestions or advice for Ashelle, please chime in. She and I have agreed to open the discussion up to include your thoughts and contributions. **