Monday, January 30, 2012

EATING: YOUR COMPENSATION AND DEFINITION OF VALUE


Somewhere along the line you were told you suck. You were parented or “friended” into being something other than yourself. You were told to change who you are, otherwise your mom and dad wouldn’t like you, your friends wouldn’t accept you, society wouldn’t praise you, and without someone’s opinion to tell you if you were doing a good job− you’d never know what your value was. In short, your value is externally created. It has to be earned.

When someone says you’re doing great! They add to your value. When someone judges you negatively, they have the power to take from your value. Think about how you react when someone angrily honks their car horn at you. Do you react by feeling angry and defensive? Does that random stranger have the power to make you feel emotionally threatened? Is that because other’s reaction to you is so important to your perceived value? You are at the mercy of other’s judgment, other’s opinion, and other’s validation in order to define your success, the quality of your soul, and the value of your life.

When this type of value based on external approval is instilled from childhood, you’re doomed to believe that how people perceive you is the truth of your value. You’re judged on your religion, what you wear, how you talk, your education, your job, how much money you make, how many friends you have, how big your breasts are, how big your truck is, your children’s success following the rules, and any other definition of value that isn’t necessarily the truth. So eventually we are all the same, wanting the same exact things in life, and we are waiting for someone or something to tell us what to do.

This is why consumerism has become such a large part of our culture. Businesses tell you what services and products you need to feel better about yourself.  They create the illusion everyone is buying it, they slap their logo on what it is and the more people you see with that logo, the more you feel you need to buy it. Some of the most valuable things that increase value are: money− or buying power,  education, where you got your education, your job, your house, your car, your clothes,  your parent’s/childen’s accomplishments on this scale, and your ability to have and attract sex.   The sad part is that if any of those ideals are taken away or lost, you actually believe your value is less.

Because you’ve given outside influence the power to define your value, that influence has the power to control you, your actions, your spending, you motivation, the way you make decisions, and how you perceive yourself.  You don’t have self-worth but instead, money-worth, clothes-worth, religious-worth, sexual-worth, body-worth,  fill-in-the-blank-worth. Those outside influences are what you think brings you happiness, but also are the influences that can be lost to create stress and sadness.

How much of your life was created for you? Decided for you? Directed by something else you thought was in charge of your happiness? What I’ve noticed is that when the most important dictators of your value judge you poorly, the easy way to feel better about it is to seek out another form of validation. For example, if someone in your family is sick (which tests the idea that you were taught happiness comes when there are no problems) and you have to take them to the hospital, do you eat to feel better about it?

When one level of value is decreased, in order to feel better about it you’re going to need to find something else to compensate. How many of you compensate with food? Do you eat to feel better about all of the vulnerabilities in life? Has eating become the only stable emotional reinforcement that only you control? Finding a way to control emotional stability is why we have behavioral addiction.

The question I have is what if you decided your value wasn’t defined by your parents, religion, spouse, children, job, money, and your body? What is your true authentic value?  If you were the creator of your value and didn’t need an action, object, or person to define you, your happiness would be something you create rather than receive.

If you eat to compensate for the vulnerability of the world, I suggest you start by thinking about the things, people, objects, and actions you believe define your value. Recognize why they’ve become such a large part of your identity. Seek to find your identity without those addictions, and from there, allow the inevitable vulnerability and fear of rejection, when you allow yourself to be authentic. No matter what others judge and what their opinion of your value is. This is the foundation of self-worth and is the only true source of happiness that isn’t vulnerable to anything other than existence of life.

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