Your eating disorder might feel like a tyrannical dictator, telling you what to eat, what not to eat, pushing you to give in to obsessive cravings, pushing you to purge, pushing you to starve or restrict, but for many people, that voice is actually a scared little girl (or boy) living inside of you, dressed in adult clothing, trying desperately to get their needs met.
Often, in eating disorders, there is a child inside of you who didn’t get his or her needs met when they were little, perhaps she or he was ignored, or yelled at or abused, perhaps kids at school were mean to him or her, or perhaps she or he was part of a very large family where it was hard to get the attention he or she craved.
What did you desperately need, that you didn’t receive enough of when you were a child?
What helped you then? Was it food? Did you ever use food to make yourself feel better when you were lonely or picked on or ignored? Or did you get attention for not eating? Did you get attention for being the best athlete or the skinniest? Did putting on weight give you attention? Did your parents give you food to keep you happy when you weren’t getting enough attention from them or when they didn’t have time to give you what you what you needed?
This can be variable for everyone. But the most important thing is to think about that child who still lives inside of you and desperately needs something from you. Now think about what you would actually give a child who was needy right now. Would you give her a piece of cake if she was sad? Would you tell him to shut up and toughen up and stop crying? Would you sit with her and hold her and give her the attention that she needs? Try to give your child self what he needs. Try to send some compassion to the part of you that feels very angry and mean, but is just trying desperately to get her needs met.
Think about what you needed as a child but you didn’t get. How can you give it to yourself?