The real you: overeater and unworthy or creative and valuable? Answer 15 questions to find out.

soaring eagle NASA photo*pix Rise and soar in freedom
If you are bogged down in your overeating behaviors and your unhappiness about being overweight by your standards, you may be confusing your authentic identity with your behaviors and self criticism.

Personal Detective Work

Do you believe the genuine you fuels your problematic behaviors or do have an inner knowing that what fuels these behaviors is not the real you?

Have you considered looking at the difference between the genuine you and your eating patterns and negative self talk?

You might begin by looking at your unwanted behaviors, like bingeing or starving or exercising to excess. Your challenge is to learn how to look at them without negative self talk.

This involves your doing some detective work so you can separate out behavior from identity. Your identity is behind your behavior, motivating and inspiring your actions.

Symptoms versus Authenticity

If you suffer from an eating disorder or deregulated eating patterns you most likely do not know the difference between your symptoms and who you authentically are.  Yet knowing the difference is vital as well as delightful for your healthy emergence from your eating pattern trap.

A powerful and profound aspect of eating disorder recovery occurs when a person with an eating disorder discovers that she is a valuable human being with untapped riches that are blocked, not by her character or basic nature, but by symptoms of an illness.

When you get even a hint of this fact, you feel a glimmer and then a surge of hope and renewed dedication to living a healthy life, free and whole, a life that includes eating without irresistible cravings and with a healthy normally weighted body.

Can you imagine your relief and freedom if symptoms vanished and you alone, in your authentic state, remained?  Negative self talk stops. That's a burden and self made prison whose power you only really appreciate when it's gone.  


n countless situations with patients over the course of my career as a psychotherapist specializing in eating disorder recovery, I see that a focus on the strengths and values of the authentic person diminishes the power of the eating disorder until it's gone.

This is not wishful thinking, nor is it easy.  Strengths and authentic values are buried under the behaviors, the internal negativity and the absorbed sense of weak identity that has developed over many years.  The patient believes her low self esteem is a practical and honest appraisal of herself.

With courage and trust my patients and you can ask yourself questions. You learn to put these questions to your authentic self and respect the honest answers that spring up.

Questions that lead to the real you

1.  Who am I really?­­­­

2.  What do I care about?

3.  Who do I care about?

4.  What do I want?

5.  What is my life's work?

6.  What do I need to learn to be effective in a world I want to live in?

7.  Who are the people I want in my life? How can I meet them? How do I equip myself to be qualified to enter new circles of people I want to know?

8.  What might be consequences if I take action based on who I am and what I want and believe in?

9.  How do I cope with those consequences? Do I need to prepare? If so, how?

10.      What risks are involved in taking authentic action?

11.      Are these risks proportionate to my gains or am I frightening myself into non action?

12.      What would I do if I were just a little tiny bit braver than I am?

13.      What do I want out of my life?

14.      What do I want in my life?

15.      During a normal day or week or month or year, how do I want to use my time and energy?

Challenge and Reward

Without the symptoms of your eating disorder or negative self talk you are free to ask yourself these questions. 

With determination and courage, you can ask yourself these questions despite your symptoms.

How close can you get to responding to these questions without your eating, exercise or negative self talk getting in the way?

If you ask yourself these questions, pay attention to your answers and nourish your authentic source of response your authentic self will grow strong and diminish the power of your negative behaviors and demeaning self talk.

Your true personhood will emerge, perhaps to your surprise, because your genuine personhood is a grand presence.

Joanna Poppink, MFT, Los Angeles eating disorder recovery psychotherapist

*pix KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. – At NASA's Kennedy Space Center, a bald eagle soars into the sky. A common sight around KSC, there are at least a dozen active bald eagle nests in the Merritt Island Wildlife Nature Refuge that surrounds KSC. The refuge is a habitat for more than 310 species of birds, 25 mammals, 117 fishes and 65 amphibians and reptiles. In addition, the Refuge supports 19 endangered or threatened wildlife species on Federal or State lists, more than any other single refuge in the U.S.

Date   September 6, 2006


PHOTO CREDIT: NASA or National Aeronautics and Space Administration, photo taken by Gary Rothstein

This file is in the public domain in the United States because it was solely created by NASA.

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