How am I bettering myself?

I was swimming last night a thought occurred to me (the pool is my thinking place!) about the concept of ‘bettering ourselves’.

The discourse we typically hear about bettering ourselves is one of improvement, attainment, success etc. I have followed this almost religiously for years without really realising it. 

I am always seeking to be better in this way. I got a degree, so then I got a masters, and now I’m doing a PhD. I became a health professional, then I wanted to become a specialist so I became a supervisor and now a lecturer- I just had to be better than what I was before. I took up running, so then I ran marathons, and then needed to beat certain times, and then do ultra marathons, just so I could show I was better at it somehow. I like to read, but I put pressure on myself to read ‘good quality’ books even if I don’t always enjoy them, as that makes me better. I make most my food from scratch but I get frustrated I’m not better at original recipes and the most creative (yet low calorie) baking. The list goes on and on, and of course leads to the fundamental ‘I need to be better at losing weight’ and we know where that ends. 

So while I was swimming the thought occurred to me ‘what would happen if I was just okay with where I am no?’ What if I accepted that I am right now as good as I need to be, and could I make myself feel that I’m as good as I want to be? Honestly this is quite the radical thought for me! What happens if I don’t chase PBs? What if I don’t work towards promotion? Would my world crumble? And the big one…what if I was okay with my body just as it is? How would my life look? 

I had a realisation that the only ‘bettering’ of myself that I need to be doing right now is getter better from ED. I need to better my brain and my body and that’s where I need to be putting my energy. I need to rephrase things to something like ‘am I wellness-ing myself by doing this?  Am I getting better in recovery by doing this? And if the answers not a definite yes then I need to pause and reevaluate.

 I don’t know if I’ll ever really stop being sometime who wants to be a high achiever, but I know that trying to do that isn’t sustainable if I want to be happy and ED free too. 

Lots to think about! 

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8 thoughts on “How am I bettering myself?

  1. And then it begs the question, why should I be better? Is it better or is it part of the same disorder, getting better at various things to add external validation like certificates, recognition because we just don’t feel good enough.

    The truth about validation and acceptance is it has to come from within. This is possibly the hardest thing in the world to achieve and I guess that’s why many of us suffering from eating illnesses are perfectionists and over-achievers, the drivers for our incessant need to accomplish being crippling lack of self-worth.

    Just being who we are in any given moment and knowing at a deep level that we are good enough is difficult. Me, I’m still in the hunt and I know you are too. It’s hard in the quicksand, we struggle and sink deeper. But what we need to do somehow, some way, is remain still, just allow for where we are and the answers will come. Xxxx

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    1. It’s funny because in some ways I think I’ve got quite a strong self-worth, but maybe it is only because I keep doing things which I think keep it topped up! I wonder how I would feel if I stopped doing things for external validation, eek!

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      1. Maybe something to explore … See what is brought to the fore … Keep in the hunt … Don’t let this bastard take your choices. You have much more scope in your life ed free but you know that…. Think about all those things you want such as children…. My own eating disorder robbed me of my fertility and then my best friend and husband. I’ll probably never marry again and at 42 with no fallopian tubes, and early onset menopause, I’m not going to realise my biological potential of motherhood … And I guess that’s the hard hitting reality of living with ed. In addiction circles they call it a ‘yet.’ We all have ‘yets;’ the things that could happen but haven’t happened yet. They are real possibilities and speaking just for myself, I never believed this is what would happen to me. I was 42 on Thursday, a stark reminder of another year and how my life has turned out compared to where I thought I could’ve been. I spent so many years not believing my ‘yets’ and now one by one they have become reality ….. I always thought my system and anatomy were above the laws of others…. Last week on an eating disorder page I saw something that really struck home… ‘It’s not gaining weight because you shouldn’t have lost it in the first place.’

        If I could go back to that innocent girl in 1990 who decided in a world that was terrifying, losing weight was the only way … and live it differently, I really would start over ….

        Just keep fighting, keep on smashing the hard-wired voice in your brain; rebel, refuse, refute, recoil, override and silence it …. We deserve better, you deserve better and the ‘yets’ are not fictitious, the longer we stay married to ed, each ‘yet’ has true potential. Guess what, at 42, I don’t want to die yet xxx

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      2. Okay I have time now to compose a proper reply, but I still want to start it with a hug. It feels so unfair that I should get to learn from you only by you going through the horribleness yourself. Thank you for sharing, and for challenging me in this way. I don’t believe my ‘yets’ I don’t think. Anytime I think of the things that could happen (e.g. physically) the first thought is ‘but I’m not ill enough for that’. I don’t want to be ill enough for those things, I definitely know that, but I do think they won’t happen to me, and that is just naive of me, and cocky, as you summed up my system is not ‘above the laws of others’. I need to address that I believe that. I also need to realise how incredibly lucky I am that I get to address this before anything happens – that is quite a privilege and a gift and I should stop playing around with it. My Dr and counsellor reckon the most dangerous health thing at the moment is my purging, so that has to stop. As you said, I have to fight it over and over and over again, and then some more, and some more after that, to eventually get to the point that I never see purging as a solution. I don’t want to die either. I wish I could go back and take away all your pain, but we know that’s not possible. All we can do is keep moving forward, and I feel lucky to have people like you beside me on this journey. Thank you xxx

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  2. MQR you’ve really made me think… X thanks for this post… When I first encountered the idea that I and my life might be “good enough” it was mind blowing and I felt very cynical – There’s a strong cultural incentive towards “improvement” in advertising, education, religion etc… It seems like a moral thing too? But in practicing mindfulness I am a bit more used to the idea and find it can be really peaceful and soothing to trust that it’s all ok. Being in nature, swimming, being in my body, being with the horses and my cat all help me get in touch with that. I really relate and support your realisation about the vital importance of recognising and working towards being free of the ed too – a support person often tell me that my main job right now is simply to stick to the meal plan each day – if I mess up to just draw a line under it and start again – and she is right – it’s enough!!! I’m a bit more stable in recovery now and feeling a little more secure! In fact I’m about to go make some oaty berry snacks for the week ahead !!! Xx so glad you’re back blogging!!! Also I’m reading this book called “The Outrun” by Amy Liptrot and it’s really great, she’s an alcoholic in recovery who has gone to live in Orkney for a time and there are lots of recovery, nature, sea swimming insights – have you heard of it? When I finally get around to writing a post I will write more about it!! Xx Em

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    1. The book sounds like something I would love so have just ordered it to read- thanks! I find ‘being enough’ incredibly hard. When I read your comment I thought- yes, swimming, that’s something I love which lead me to nearly signing up for the great north swim- within 5 minutes I had made it a challenge – not something just to do because I love it- man it’s a hard habit to break!!! Now I’ve stopped to think about it why couldn’t I just go to Lake Windermere one weekend and swim for fun- why does it have to be an event? It’s like I’m addicted! I’m trying to not to sign up for run races so I try enter swim ones instead- sigh. You’ll be glad to hear I resisted! But I will maybe plan a camping trip in the lakes for next spring so I can swim there just for fun! A work in progress…

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