One of the prime factors in denial of an eating disorder is pride. An eating disorder and many types of disordered eating patterns begin as a way to cope with pain, but along the way pride can take root.
In the beginning, pride is cleverness in handling the pain through the eating disorder. Along the way, pride keeps you blind to the fact that your behavior is abnormal. And in the end, pride hinders you from admitting you have a problem and getting the help you need to recover.
The following are the characteristics of people whose actions and relationships are driven by pride. After reading through each characteristic, think about how it applies to someone from your past and how it might apply to you.
• Won’t admit error. When confronted with an error, the prideful person will attempt to explain it away. She does not want to admit responsibility.
• Needs to win when dealing with others. She is highly competitive with tasks and relationships.
• Takes inappropriate authority over other people, even if the authority is not rightly hers. A prideful person attempts to control circumstances by forcing authority and decisions on to others.
• Has a tendency to shame others. In an attempt to build herself up, a prideful person will press down others through shame and humiliation.
• Overuses sarcasm. The sarcasm need not be directed at you, but may be about other people, places, or things. The overuse of sarcasm gives the impression that the prideful person has some sort of “inside knowledge” not available to others.
• Takes things to extremes. A prideful person often resorts to excesses when dealing with tasks for other people. She has an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
• Has difficulty developing intimacy. A prideful person often confuses sex with love.
• Denies events or characteristics that don’t fit her own self-image. Denial of these is usually accomplished with hostility.
Central to healing is the ability to focus outside of yourself and reduce your level of self-absorption. Being able to look at others as allies instead of competitors or enemies is vital in grasping reality. Not only do these attitudes allow you to see the world as it really is—and yourself as others see you—but they help you to find other people who can interact with you, providing you with the support you need on your journey.
Pride—both your own and that of those who hurt you—will work against your recovery. Faulty pride cannot coexist with perceived imperfection; it is impossible to be prideful when you recognize your own flaws and weaknesses so clearly. You are beginning to understand that you’re eating disorder was not the “perfect” solution it promised to be. You are starting to remember that yours wasn’t the “perfect” family after all. You’re now seeing that your pursuit of being “perfect” isn’t bringing you any sense of peace.
False realities do not dissipate quickly. They are stubborn and hold on for dear life. But you must let them go. You must let go of pride. Coming out of the darkness of a false reality of pride is not an overnight trip. It will require determination, perseverance, and faith. It will require an acceptance of your own weakness and an admission of your need for God to strengthen you. The false pride of perfectionistic thinking will warn against doing this. It will tell you that you need to be better or farther along in your journey before you can ask God for anything. It will whisper to you that God will not help you.
Do not listen! Listen instead to God himself, in Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
This promise is your reality.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder and have lost faith in God, The Center • A Place Of HOPE can help. Call 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.
Excerpts taken from Gregory L. Jantz, Hope, Help & Healing From Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach To Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating, WaterBrook 2010.