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February 7, 2013

Dignity and Living at One’s Highest Level of Integrity

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Sometimes those who struggle with eating disorders may act out of their natural character while in the throes of the eating disorder. There can be tremendous regret and shame over unpleasant behaviors in our pasts. However, by working on clarifying of our true values and what living our life according to those values looks like, we can develop a new level of identity separate from our eating disorder. A tremendous sense of self confidence occurs when we live at our highest level of integrity.

Now, mistakes will still happen and poor choices may be made occasionally, but persecuting ourselves over this is unproductive. We have to forgive our past and daily occurring mistakes, and yet strive to live according to our values and in a way that honors God and our true selves. The best way to gain this grounded perspective on our value system is to get to know ourselves deeply. Here are some questions to consider:

1. What are my top 10 values? In what order of priority?
2. What in my life reflects my interest in these values? Do I devote adequate time and focus to these areas that I value?
3. Would focusing more on what I value fill up some of the space that obsessing about weight, food and eating disordered thoughts used to occupy?
4. What would I like to start doing to further devote myself to my values?

Another benefit of this values clarity is that we begin to find our self-regard in our character and actions, rather than weight and what others think of us. We develop an internally driven sense of self that we carry with us throughout our days, keeping us feeling confident and secure in our own skin and building a healthy body image . This lessens our anxiety around others and frees us from the roller coaster ride of evaluating ourselves based on feedback from others.

In the midst of battling with an eating disorder, it can be difficult to maintain a sense of self or remember the things once valued.  Continuing to find yourself under the many layers of an eating disorder will lead to a reinforcement of what you truly value, of the things in life that genuinely fulfill you and make you whole.  The journey is never easy, but by strengthening your integrity and dignity, you will slowly but surely find your ability to overpower your eating disorder.

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