Values: me vs ED (and a giveaway!)

I did this exercise on values in a group at the EDU last year and it taught me some things about myself, so I thought I would share it. People with eating disorders often say that they have no idea who they are outside of their illness. I think it’s really important to find out different things that make you *you* so that you can shove them in the eating disorder’s face when it tries to convince you that you are nothing without it πŸ˜‰

In the group we were given this handout called ‘Choosing your values’ from a book called ‘Get out of your mind and into your life’ (which is a great title, hehe). It had a list of different relationships (e.g. marriage, friendship) and aspects of every day life (e.g. work, spirituality), and the idea was to write down what sort of person you would like to be in that area of your life and then try and distill your answer down to one key phrase. These were my answers, with my most important values in italics:

Marriage/couple:
Loyal, honest, stable, loving, fun caring and cared for, sharing interests but also having personal space, friends as well as partners – balanced

Parenting (you don’t need to have children to answer):
Caring, stable, reliable, fun, coaching – encouraging but safe

Other family relations (daughter, sister, cousin etc):
Friendly, fun, supporting and supported – independent but belonging

Friendship/social relations:
Loyal, reliable, fun, fair, balanced, supportive, kind – spontaneous but dependable

Career/employment:
Reliable, full of initiative, good problem solver, confident, public service, conscientious, organised – resourceful

Education and personal growth:
Intelligent, innovative, inquisitive, open minded, insightful, conscientious – willing to be challenged

Recreation/leisure:
Fun, interesting, creative, expressive, inspirational, productive, educational – challenging but relaxing

Spirituality:
Enquiring, curious, understanding, whole – open minded

Citizenship:
Helpful, useful, fair, a good influence, reliable, supportive – involved

Health/physical wellbeing:
Fit, athletic, strong, healthy, well balanced – resilient

The last and most important part of this exercise was to rate each area in two ways: how important it is in your life and how well you are living this value at the moment. This gave me and some of the others a bit of a kick up the butt, because it showed us how far from our real values our eating disorders had taken us. I want to be involved in the community around me, but I’m virtually a hermit. I want to be strong and resilient, but my physical health is appalling. I want to be challenged, confident and valuable in my education and career but I’ve had to drop out of university three times and I haven’t had even a summer job for six years. I want to have meaningful, healthy, fun and balanced relationships, but the only people I have regular contact with are my family and various mental health professionals. The first time I did this exercise it helped me start to separate myself from the anorexia – it’s clear from this that I am not my illness, because I value completely different things. If I were to answer this according to my anorexia’s values, it would go something like this:

Intimate relationships: alone forever
Parenting: no point answering, no menstrual cycle
Family relationships: self sufficient and closed off
Friendship: isolated
Career/employment: too weak to function in the real world
Education and personal growth: excuse me, growth is a dirty word!
Recreation/leisure: obsession and pain
Spirituality: emptiness
Citizenship: invisible and needless
Health and wellbeing: dead

Despite the fact that this exercise shook me a year ago, I still let the eating disorder lock these insights back up and consume me again. I’m not going to let that happen again.

If any of you guys wanted to try this exercise you are more than welcome to post about it, it’d be really interesting to read about what you thought πŸ™‚

I had a pretty good day today. IΒ started making a necklace for a friend who is in hospital at the moment, and that gave me an idea for keeping myself occupied for the next couple of weeks – I’m going to put on a bit of a competition πŸ™‚ the ones that other bloggers do always look like fun! To enter, you just have to leave a comment telling me your two favourite colours (needed for the prize) and the main thing which motivates you in recovery (I wanted to write about that as well but it’s going to have to happen some other time this week, I think this post is quite long enough!). I’ll take entries for a week, then assign all the comments numbers and use a random number generator to pick two, and then I will make those two people a piece of jewellery in whichever colours they chose. You can link back to this post in your blog if you want to tell other people about this, but you don’t have to – I’m not doing this to advertise my blog, I just like making jewellery for people πŸ™‚

Three good things about today:
1. Re-reading and re-doing the exercise on values – I had forgotten the impact it had on me the first time round.
2. Weird but very wonderful lunch: mashed avocado, beetroot and pea protein powder (Ellie, I found a use for it!), onions and grated carrot and courgette on a gluten free pizza base. I heated the pizza base and onions up in the oven and put the rest on afterwards. I love beetroot!
3. Getting my beads out for the first time in a while – I’ve been meaning to get back into jewellery making but the 2pm panic attacks have been getting in the way. I got in their way instead today πŸ™‚

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16 responses to “Values: me vs ED (and a giveaway!)

  1. What a fabulous idea! My two favorite colors are blue and green. The main thing that motivates me in recovery is wanting to be more present with people. I’m so inside my own head (calculating, planning, worrying). It really robs me of enjoyment and solid relationships…I really want to do this exercise. I’ll have to think about it. This will likely be my next post!

  2. I also enjoy beading! I used to use swarosovski (sp?) beans to make jewellery that I never wore. Hmm, but I do like to wear on your awesome creations. My favorite colours are pink and blue. And being able to enjoy life is what motivates me in recovery.

  3. yay for pea protein- it didn’t even occur to me to use it in a savoury dish!my favourite colours are silver and purple, and my biggest motivation for recovery…to be honest is the fear of living like this forever.Love the exercise you did- food for thought!

  4. I’m not much of a person for jewellery making, but I think it’s very cool that you’re getting back in touch with your creative side. Also a great motivator and shows how much you’ve accomplished already: the less ED controls your life, the more you can spend your time creating beautiful things that make you and others happy!

  5. My favorite color is green. My biggest motivation for recovery is my son and to be able to be a healthy mom for him.

  6. Cacti Don't Cry

    I think I've done something similar to that before… the problem with it was, it was too … wordy, I guess. It was very abstract, and while I'm generally an abstract person, when it comes to such things I like them to be concrete. I like guarantees. Which, of course, never exist in life.I loooove jewelry (which you already know, hehe)… I used to make it, but I don't have time for it anymore. Hmph.My favorite colors are black and red, and I don't quite know how to put it, but I guess my motivation is to be able to move on in my life and find out how I can do things differently, without being communally ostricized, and still be happy with myself. (I know, it sounds like the process, but I don't think I'm going to be able to find out unless I do it first!!)<3 ❀

  7. V. cool exercise – I’m glad it was helpful :)Love, Lexi

  8. I do like the exercise you did and the way you were able to identify the values of anorexia as well… kinda important so you can see the difference I reckon :).My favourite colours together are blue and green, my favourite colours and blue and baby pink :).What motivates me towards recovery… right now its not wanting to be left behind amongst so amazing and wonderful people in blogland that inspire me day in day out through their struggles, heartaches and victories. I find consolation there, comfort and inspiration. You’re amazing my friendxoxo

  9. Crazy, I JUST did a very similar exercise with my therapist last week! He had me draw a line down the center of a page, and on the left side write “Stef” and list all the things that I value and on the right side write “ED” and write all the things ED values! VERY different, as you know! Such a great exercise because I know we tend to have a hard time separating ourselves from our disorder, and that is so necessary! Pea protein powder huh? I’ve seen Newman’s Own pretzels that are fortifed with pea protein, but I’ve yet to try them!

  10. whoops I forgot to write about the jewelry! How cool of you to make your own, I hope I win πŸ˜‰ My fave colors are purple and green (at the mo’ anyway!) And my main motivation for recovery is being HAPPY, as cliche as that is, I have wasted far too much time being miserable and I’m ready to reclaim my life…no more of this ED business!

  11. rediscoveringlauren

    hi sweetheart, i LOVE the idea of this excersise…i think its super beneficial in recovery! we defeintly need to remeber we are not our ed and there is a life and a person beyond our disorder, and finding out about our real, ed free self, can be so freeing and wonderful :)Thats so cool about the jewlwery πŸ™‚ my fav colours are brown and pink and my main motivation for recovery is my craving for freedom and happiness, as cliche as it sounds….becauseive realised how sad and tormented the ed makes me feel, and at times i still feel caught up in my routine…so the thought of freedom, feeling like i can do anything at any time without worrying about my planned routine, motivates me to keep moving forward in recovery!have a nice night hunxxxx

  12. Hey sweetie~I love looking at both your answers and ED’s answers to the eercise. it really reminds us what is important in life. I have been wanting to set an account up for myself at Etsy for my scarves and rosaries. Good Luck with your shop.And my favorite colors are grey and green (odd I know).

  13. ElleMigliore

    I LOVE that exercise and was going to do it myself until I read your answers and realized they were all the answered I wouldve put! Very great as a reminder!! I also love jewelry!! What a sweeeeeet contest!! My favorite colors are yellow and pink or blue. I actually love all colors except for orange! lol.My recovery motivation is gaining confidence back that I feel I purged up with all the food. The more weight I lost, the more confidence I lost, resulting in a loss of sense of self!Have a wonderful day and thanks for the exercise prompts!

  14. Great exercise! I may have to copy it onto my blog.Ohhh beaded jewerly, I would love to see it! My favorite colors are blue and green. My motivation in recovery is that I want to be able to have children(physically) and be the best mother possible (mentally-it just seems impossible with an ED).Take care!

  15. I really enjoyed reading your exercise. And I LOVE the giveaway!!My two favourite colours are green and orange.My main motivation in recovery is enjoying the moment and being free from all the rules and restrictions an ED put on me.Have a great day πŸ™‚

  16. Mimi the kitten

    What a thought-provoking exercise – God bless you in your recovery, and God help us all with His love and grace.I’d be honored to enter your giveaway, and my favorite colors are pink and white. My biggest motivation in recovery is living a life that’s centered on God, not food or my weight.

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