It didn’t take long after starting college for me to develop a furious eating disorder. I was simultaneously trying to fill an achingly empty hole in my heart and attempting to get a grip on a situation that was pointedly way beyond controlling. Thankfully, and because I’m really not one to put up with such senseless nonsense, the whole debacle didn’t last that long.
One of the ways I stopped it was this: I would imagine my five-year old self. And then I would ask myself: Would I do this to her? Would I stuff loads of food down her throat, then tell her she was disgusting for having eaten it and then force her to throw it up? GOD NO.
And I do not mean this in some cheesey inner-child kind of a way – I mean it in a ‘if you wouldn’t do it to a child, why in God’s name would you do it to yourself?’ way. The thought of doing any of those things to a child made me, ironically, want to barf. They put me off my self-inflicted torture for good.
Turns out, it’s a good trick – it works in many, many situations, it’s cross-problem applicable. Because we’re inclined to be nice to children. They’re so helpless and innocent. But adults? They should know better. They’re responsible and capable.
Introducing your Future Self
Which is why I was struck – as I was trying to make a rather big decision last night – when the magnificent and mind-blowing Kelly Diels said to me, “Think about your Future Self. Think about how this decision will affect her.” And then she asked me this: “Do you want to do that to her?”
Well, um, err, well…gulp. I hadn’t thought about her. Even though I think about telling super stories about the life I want, I hadn’t thought about the woman that would actually be living them. Or, rather, I hadn’t thought of her as different than me – you know, as different than the me of right now.
Huh. Just like that five-year old child, there is a her, a someone out there waiting. And the it was the realization of this distance – turning ‘me’ into ‘her’ even just for a slice of a moment – that unleashed the compassion and the caring that I am often so ready to give to others, but not, as it turns out, to myself.
Image credit: ILMO JOE