Whether it’s the parts of yourself or the parts of your communities, life provides many opportunities to practice bringing them all together in harmony. Are you up for the challenge?
We Are All Parts That Make Up a Whole Self
It’s common to describe ourselves in parts, especially when they seem to be opposites, e.g., “Part of me wants to make friends, but another part of me really wants to hide out at home alone.” And we are made up of parts – many of them.
Just look at the variety of unhealthy eating behaviors one person may exhibit – dieting, restricting, purging, and emotional eating. The same person can be the ultimate dieter one day, and can do nothing but binge the next day. It’s all the same person, just living out her different parts.
A goal might be to increase your awareness of the parts, by writing in a food journal about what you’re eating, as well as the emotions you’re feeling before, during and after. That can help you get to know your parts and understand what might trigger them to come out of hiding.
You might discover that when you’re feeling rebellious, you’re more likely to restrict. Or maybe you’ll see that if you’re binging, you’re usually lonely. Of course it’s not always that simple or straightforward, but it’s a start.
When you get to know your parts, you can strive to unite them all in order to have a much stronger sense of self.
Another way of looking at parts is to see that we’re each also a part of bigger communities – whether that’s a small family unit living under the same roof, a community of people who share a common interest or a support group that is dealing with the same eating disorder.
And anytime a group of people get together, there’s the potential for conflict. Here, also, we see the different parts of ourselves. We’ve talked before about how challenging it is to be our “adult selves” sometimes – especially when we return to our childhood home or even just spend time with our family of origin.
But family aren’t the only ones that can push our buttons. Other people with strong or difficult personalities will come and go in our lives. People at work, for example, can even start to take on roles from our childhood – you may start to relate to someone as if they were your sibling, instead of as two adults in a work environment.
For people already dealing with an eating disorder, the additional stress of relationship problems can be almost too much. And with particular toxic relationships, or in the case of violence, it’s important to take care of yourself and get out of the relationship. Sometimes that’s the healthiest choice.
But for the most part, I encourage my therapy clients to work on the relationships instead. It may seem easier to give up instead of dealing with someone head on, but in the end you’re only limiting your own happiness, recovery and growth.