As I sat in church on Sunday listening to Father Joe talk about the ways that Jesus was tempted by the devil during his 40 days in the desert, it was striking me how similar this is to the ways the eating disorder tempts. A parent was recently trying to wrap his mind around the eating disorder being a separate entity from his daughter as she described how it "talks" to her. He said, "Is it like a cute, furry little friend or more like a gremlin?" His daughter replied, "Both. Sometimes it's really mean to me and sometimes it's like my friend."
The ED will utilize a variety of tactics. At times it might be charming and seductive:
"If you just cut down on your eating a little bit you'll feel so much better."
At other times the ED might be mean and aggressive:
"If you eat that people are going to think you are a fat ugly slob."
Notice the use of "If." Father Joe pointed out that this word can be challenging, tempting and manipulative. This is so true. The ED is all about the positive or negative consequences of your behaviors, and will tell you whatever it needs to in order to convince you to obey its commands. It isn't always even logical, yet can still be incredibly convincing. A client once told me that her ED convinced her that if she ate a hamburger she would gain 5 pounds. How's that for challenging and manipulative? Or how about the temptation of the ED suggesting that if you just exercise a little bit more and eat a little bit less you'll get to your goal weight?
Pay attention to how often these "if" statements show up in your thinking throughout the day. In what ways does that word challenge, tempt or manipulate you?
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