Displaying Your Gifts - Or Not. Gracian #2
- Category: Self-Help
Baltasar's second maxim is two words: Character and Intelligence.
He goes on to say the these are poles your inherent talent spins on and that's what displays your gifts in this world. How might these poles relate to you and your eating disorder recovery?
If you have an eating disorder, and especially if you have maintained it for years, you know you've had to use great intelligence to keep it going.
If you're anorexic
you've been hiding your body under layers of clothes to give an appearance of more weight than you carry on your frame. This takes effective strategic thinking in order to get the look you want and convice others that you are fine. You know how to add layers to convince doctors and nurses you are at an acceptable weight.
If you are bulimic
you know how to shop for binge foods in ways that keep you under the radar. Friends and family don't see those purchases. The clerk at the counter doesn't notice because you change stores regularly or you talk about the party you've having as he rings up the bags and packages of cookies, candy, pretzels and the all important ice cream or frozen yogurt.
If you are a binge eater
you know how to hide your food and your eating. You might eat a slice or two of cake in public during the day but have a whole cake stashed away in a cupboard to eat when you are alone.
These are just a few tiny examples of the many methods use to maintain your eating disorder. They all require intelligence. But your intelligence is not giving you the life of health and freedom that could be yours.
That brings us to character.
Character relates to the real stuff you are made of - not cookies and diet sodas, but the reality of your true nature. That, combined with your intelligence will give your talents a way to emerge and show up in the world in the form of your gifts. For example, you might love music. Music could be an inherent part of your true nature. But an eating disorder will distract you from practice, stop you from attending rehearsals, block your from showing up at events because you need to tend to your anxiety with eating disorder behavior. And even if you manage to allow some of your musical gifts to appear, the erosion of your health and the distortions in your thinking will create major obstacles to your living a long and healthy life as a successful musician.
Baltasar seems to be saying that your origin, friendships, condition of body, mind and soul are all part of your character and need to be in balance with your intelligence, that each serves the other, or at least, influences the other. If we follow this thinking through it's difficult to see where an eating disorder fits in. In fact, in terms of your true intelligence and true character, your eating disorder blocks the balance of both.
If that's so, and it feels right to me, then the right course of action is to honor and strengthen both your character and your intelligence so that the eating disorder is eliminated from the scenario. You have an eating disorder because you need that third pole to sustain you in life. Your character and intelligence, which are considerable forces, don't seem to be enough to get you through your fears and anxieties. The recovery work, then, would be to engage in activities that nourish and support your character and intelligence so you can grow beyond your present limitations. As you do this, your talents emerge and your gifts are displayed so that you can live a life that is authentic and of real value to you.
I like this graphic. I see it as one pole being character and the other intelligence. Both support you and keep you in balance as you stride through life (with no eating disorder in sight!). She seems so ready to use her gifts to deal with whatever comes along. :)
What do you think about character and intelligence?
How do you think they related to the presence or absence of an eating disorder? And what kinds of effort might be required to nourish your own character and intelligence?