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I do like lists, for a few reaso ...

Posted May 08 2009 10:30pm

I do like lists, for a few reasons- I'll make a list of them. Just kidding. Wow, what a nerd I am... ( not the point of this post).

I'm interested in essences of things, essential elements if you will. That's one of the big reasons I love working with people who have eating disorders. These illnesses look like they are all about food and weight, and they can seem chaotic and random. I love helping people get at the essence, the essential meanings of their disorder. I love helping people see how NOT random EDs are- how every behavior, every thought, every symptom makes sense in its own way; how there is a true cohesion and organization to every eating disorder (and at the same time, always being cognizant of the fact that they can be hugely damaging, if not deadly)

And in my work with clients I've found lists to be just incredibly helpful. You know how the minds of people who suffer from eating disorders can be so noisy and loud and crammed with thoughts and feel like they are running at a thousand miles per second without a break ever (you know, kind of like this sentence)? Lists can help distill all those thoughts down to the essentials, and then organize them so they can be used. And lists are concrete, especially if you write them down. So when you've got those million and one thoughts screaming around in your head, you can look at the list, and get back to basics.

Even though eating disorders have an organization to them and are not truly chaotic, they sure can feel chaotic to the person who suffers from one of them. A list can help calm that chaos down some. It can be reassuring because you don't have to remember about everything all the time- you can always refer back to your list.

I do want to make a distinction though- between the kinds of lists I'm talking about and the obsessive, compulsive, perfectionistic kinds of lists I've seen people create. Know what I mean???? The lists I'm talking about aren't supposed to be rigid and lock you into narrow, exhausting ways of being or thinking. They are supposed to feel supportive, expansive, calming... that kind of thing. It's a good idea to pay attention to the quality of lists you make. The perfectionism inherent in eating disorders often leads people to create copious lists- of things you are "supposed to do" "supposed to eat" "supposed to not eat" you get the idea. And then everyone ends up feeling like they failed because the lists are ridiculously perfectionistic in the first place. Those kinds of lists are rigid, and they are no fun, and also not helpful- in fact they can be downright unhelpful and an impediment to work on yourself.

So there's the point of the post: lists rock, but only if they are in the proper spirit!

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