“Perception is reality” – this is a belief that I hold to be true. As a clinician it is not my job to tell my client how they feel, what they feel or how to behave. It IS my job to LISTEN. If I want to know how to truly help my client…..I ask. What anyone feels, thinks or believes is true to that person and it is only until they are ready that this belief may begin to change.
Those who struggle with an eating disorder believe they need to be thinner, stronger, better, different. They believe that the less they eat, the more they eat, the more they work out, the less they weigh (etc) the better they will be. These are ingrained internalized belief systems that they are not ready to give up and/or change – so…..I listen.
So many who struggle with eating disorders have never felt as though they have a safe place where they could “speak”. Often, those who struggle have no clue how to verbalize what their needs are, so they use external objects, food, weight, numbers, miles, calories etc as a way to try and tell the people in their life what pain they are in. It is through the act of listening that recovery is possible.
How often are you listened to? How often to you feel as though the person sitting across from you is actually listening to and hearing the things that you are saying to them? How often do you actually listen to the other person? More than ever, we live in a world where the art of listening has gone by the wayside. People text, email, blog (lol), post, tweet etc…do we ever talk anymore?
The disease of an eating disorder is one of broken communication, those who suffer have lost or perhaps never had the ability to SPEAK….so I listen. I listen to the thoughts about food, the fears about their body, their lack of trust in the world, their issues around abandonment, their trauma, their losses, their pain, their sadness. I listen to their ideas, their fantasies about what their eating disorder will bring them, their delusions attached to the number on the scale, I sit and I listen to all the things they have been trying to “say” through binging, purging, starvation, exercise.
Little by little my clients begin to believe that they are being heard and if they are being heard, there exists the possibility that they could be understood. Isn’t that what we all want? To be listened to, to be heard and if it is at all possible – to be understood? The language of an eating disorder is a complex and tricky one – and so…… I listen.
The truth is – It is absolutely and utterly amazing how much one can learn, when you sit, you wait, and you listen.