The Epidemic of ‘Not Good Enough’ and Disordered Eating
Do you have that nagging little thought telling you that you don’t quite cut the mustard when you consider different areas of your life? Well if you do, it might be reassuring to know that you certainly aren’t alone. This narrative is regularly referred to as our ‘inner critic’. You know, the one that likes to compare you to others and tell you how well your friends and peers are doing and how well you aren’t. It’s the thought that leaves you feel deflated, overwhelmed and makes giving up look like the most appealing option.
We are all born with a version of this story however, how each of us internalise and respond to this varies greatly. For some people it primes a focus on food, shape, weight and size, leading to the development of poor body image, chronic dieting and eating disorders.
So where does this come from?
Tara Brach in her book Radical Acceptance, discusses this from an evolutionary perspective. In her research, she suggests that the origins are based in a drive to do what our species does well…evolve! Without a desire to improve, our ancestors may have rested on their laurels and sat back after making the cave or the mud hut, thinking ‘This is as good as it gets.’ Our ability to constantly improve our environment has come from the thought that we can always do better. Great huh? Well yes, until you combine it with 20th century society.
Once the era of televisions and media began, major changes occurred in our worlds. We were no longer isolated to our local farms and communities, rather we were exposed to the international community and were at the mercy and advertising magnates that saw the introduction of diet culture. We were shown a world that was filtered and imperfect leading us as humans, to continue the quest of perceived self improvement by altering our eating and focusing on our bodies.
Compounded by the judgment of being ‘not good enough’ is our friend and foe social media, which allows the unrelenting comparison on a much wider scale. We are exposed to a modified version of bodies that we’re told are more acceptable and then pressured into eating in ways that are confusing and not backed by science. This is a platform where we’ are shown only the best moments of people’s lives and are rarely invited into the inner most vulnerable moments of other humans, which is where we would feel more normal and connected.
So…the moral of the story?
It’s important to remember that we are all born with a version of an ‘I’m not good enough story’ that is trying to be helpful. However, our brains have not evolved at the rate that our society has, so be aware of the story but don’t engage it. Your worth is not synonymous with your eating habits nor your body. You a wonderful complex being, who yes is innately imperfect, but so are well all. With time your ability to unhook from this story gets better and you can learn that it does not have to rule your life.