Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.
The first part of July, especially July 4th – our day of Independence, is a great opportunity to reflect on the freedoms which we enjoy in this great land. We celebrate our freedom not only “on the outside,” with meaningful ceremony and time with family and friends, but also “on the inside,” deep within the chambers of our hearts and our souls.
The external freedom, which we experience in our citizenship in a sovereign nation, is a profound blessing. That has come, I believe, from Divine providence, and from the sacrifices of many, including those in our armed services who protect us, and our liberty, through their willingness to step into harm’s way on our behalf.
Internal freedom, on the other hand, is another matter. Victor Frankl said, “The ability to choose ones attitude in any set of circumstances” was the “last of all human freedoms.” He also referred to this as the “will for meaning”. His message is that despite external circumstance, we get to decide the meaning of our experience, our attitude about our circumstances, and the choices which we can make.
During a therapy group session which I was leading, a Jewish client tearfully expressed her great sadness and frustration about being separated from her family during the religious event of the Passover. Following group, we arranged a time during Passover week for her to visit with a local and well respected Rabbi. In group the following week, she shared many thoughts and feelings including, “After my visit with the Rabbi, and my praying and thinking, I have realized that I am in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. I have realized that the traditional Passover is about not only freedom as a people, but also about personal freedom. I realize also that the best way I can have personal freedom is to recover from my eating disorder. This year, this is the best way that I could celebrate Passover.”
In consideration of those who are suffering from an eating disorder illness, I want to remind each of you that the eating disorder was not something which you chose. It is an illness, and while you may have chosen some certain eating disorder behaviors, you did not choose the eating disorder illness. The development of this illness is much more complicated than that. I ask each of you to strive to release yourself from your own punishing self judgment, and to give yourself the gift of kindness and compassion.
While you did not choose this illness, you can choose to make the very difficult walk away from it. You can make recovery choices. You can work towards transcendence of this addictive process, and you can create more “external and internal freedom.” You can choose less self destructive behavior, and choose more self care. You can choose to “step away from” your illness, rather than choosing to “hold on tight” to it. By doing so, one step at a time, you and many others, can find increased personal freedom, a full recovery, and what I call “a sovereignty of the soul.”
May we, each one, avoid the alluring tendency to make our choices out of fear. May we rather, make our choices of external and internal living from a place of willingness to live, to give and receive love, to honor our deepest desires, connect to a higher purpose, and live from a place of hopefulness. Freedom, though down a lengthy recovery path, is also a choice moment by moment. It is within reach. It is a process, and it is “a matter of the heart.”
Michael E. Berrett, PhD, Licensed Psychologist, CEO and Co-founder, Center for Change, Orem, Utah
Did You Know?
At Center for Change, we believe in a full continuum of care that offers decreasing steps in the intensity of care. Acute inpatient care focuses on medical and psychological stabilization, while residential care works to improve medical and emotional stability over time. Our Day (PHP) program focuses on the practical application of learned skills, while the Evening (IOP) program allows clients to receive accelerated treatment for their eating disorders while still participating in their daily responsibilities such as work or school. The Center also offers psychological and dietary outpatient services.
Annual Alumni Event
Friday, July 27th, 2012
Center for Change
Click here to register
Southwestern School (SWS) for Behavioral Health
August 19th – 23rd, 2012
Eating Disorders: From Recovery to Liberation
July 27, 2012
The Transformation Center
Free CEU’s available
NW Austin Business Connections
August 8, 2012
11:30am – 1:00pm
Center for Change Family Week
August 17, 2012
Orem, UT (not open to the public)
University of San Diego
September 18, 2012
San Diego, CA
California State University
September 20, 2012
Space is very limited! E-mail Cassie Riddle to RSVP.
Jenni Schaefer is a consultant with Center for Change.