So many people think that the ones who struggle with their weight are selfish. How many times have I heard this? I can’t count. It would be like trying to number the stars.
You’re obese because you’re lazy. And lazy people are selfish
“She’s fat“, they say ,” Because she’s selfish. She only cares about herself. She doesn’t care what others think“
I’m lazy. I’m selfish. I’m greedy. I’ve heard it all before. That’s why I weighed over 400 pounds for so long. Because I cared about no one but myself. I weighed over 400 pounds because I was self-indulgent. My life was totally self centered and revolved around only me. I didn’t care how it affected my children. That it made me unable to go to school events or throw the ball around in the backyard. I didn’t care if it inconvenienced that person sitting next to me when my weight spilled into their chair. I didn’t care because I was SELFish.
SELF- Centered. SELF-Involved
SELF SELF SELF….right??
I suggest you read between the lines. I suggest you look deeper. Like a picture you must stare at intently until what is beneath finally rises to the surface. Like an image hidden behind another so that only those with patience and focus will find it. Look behind the obvious and what you will find may surprise you. Because people with weight issues DO care. But often not about THEMSELVES. It’s others they think about. So much so that they may put themselves last. So far last that they aren’t even on the list. So far at the bottom that they often take whatever treatment people give them. Do selfish people allow themselves to be treated badly by others?! Do they constantly obsess over what other people need? Do they feel responsible for other people’s problems? Do they constantly scan their mind looking for a reason that someone that just walked past them had a frown on their face? Must be MY fault. Must have been me!
People with weight issues or eating disorders often put the value of others above their own. So high that it overwhelms them. So far in front that their basic needs often can’t be met. It’s funny to me. How people with weight issues are said to obsess over their weight. Because so often what we really obsess over is OTHERS. What THEY need. What THEY want. What THEY think. Day in and day out, we worry. We worry over how what WE do might affect someone else.
Did I say that the wrong way? Do they like me? Did they think I was being rude?
I was in a hurry. I hope she didn’t think I don’t care.
I hope she didn’t think I was being inconsiderate.
I hope she didn’t think that I’m not a nice person.
The smallest details can roll around in your mind for days. Worrying and obsessing if something you said or did upset someone else. If it bothered them or hurt them or made them suddenly not like you. People with eating disorders are hypersensitive. They worry excessively at times about others. People don’t starve themselves because they’re arrogant. They don’t force themselves to go hungry because they are selfish. People don’t become 400 pounds and put themselves through physical misery because they are vain. I didn’t live every day of my life under the suffocating and crushing weight of my own body because I was cocky.
If you stop and think about that for a minute, you’ll see how ridiculous that idea really is. People don’t harm themselves because they’re selfish. They do it because they’re last on the list. And often deep down, they feel worthless. They’re in a civil war with themselves. A battle that goes on in their mind. Self loathing and disgust constantly paired with the desire to be ‘healthy’ and ‘balanced’. You can’t define it. You can’t wrap it up in a neat package and explain it. Because maybe it’s different for everyone. But this much I know. I didn’t eat myself to 417 pounds because I didn’t care what others thought of me. But I often compulsively overate because I DID care. SO much so that I couldn’t get the thoughts to stop. SO much so that the worry and anxiety overwhelmed me. You see, people with weight issues and eating disorders care very little about themselves most of the time. But they often have to silence their thoughts and concerns about others with Big Macs and Apple Pies. Because they worry excessively about everyone BUT themselves. Sometimes the only self care they get IS food. Sometimes the only comfort they feel IS chocolate. Because everything else in their life is drained to the last drop with the energy they pour into those around them.
That’s why the solution may surprise you. Because while the world likes to believe that people who compulsively overeat are selfish and vain. The exact opposite is usually true. In fact what society already believes to be TRUE about the obese—that they put themselves FIRST—may actually be the very solution that we’re looking for! Because while society thinks you care only about yourself, the truth is that you actually may not care at all about yourself. But to now make any progress you will have to start caring. You may have to GET a little “selfish”. And you may have to finally start caring about YOU. To someone with a weight issue or a true eating disorder, this sounds selfish. To put themselves first sounds WRONG. But if a plane is going down, you must put on your oxygen mask FIRST before you can help anyone else. If you don’t take care of yourself FIRST—you won’t be around for anyone else.
Society has it wrong. We’re not selfish and vain. But if we want to get well—we may need to start behaving like we are.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating true vanity and selfishness. But if you had an eating disorder—you’d know that most people who have one cannot tell the difference between taking care of themselves in a healthy way and being selfish. They don’t see the difference. To them, putting their needs as a priority is selfish. To them not allowing other people to walk all over them is rude. Being assertive is wrong. Doing what YOU need is vain. And helping yourself before someone else is sinful. THAT is how most people with eating disorders think. And if you saw it that way you would know—-that what the world thinks of us is exactly the OPPOSITE of how it truly is.
“Love others as much as yourself”—Mark 12:31
That scripture comes with an assumption. The assumption that you love yourself. That you take care of yourself. And probably pretty darn well. Because the way you love yourself is how you are supposed to love others. But what if you treat everyone else with such painstaking care but treat yourself as if you are worthless? Because if that’s the case then you are NOT AT ALL loving others the way you love yourself.
Maybe for those of us with weight issues need to flip that around.
“Love yourself as much as you love others”
Maybe we need to think of it like that. I know it’s hard. Especially when the world at large tells you that you are already selfish and vain. You already think so little of yourself now. You already think often that you have no value. So if someone tells you that you’re selfish—you are probably the very first person to believe them! But today let me suggest that you take a moment and ask yourself—if the plane was going down would you follow the instructions?
In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you.
Secure your own mask first before you assist others.
Our world is decompressing. And we may be the cause of it. We may be the very cause of our own destruction. But we can also be part of the solution. But only if we start understanding that taking care of ourselves is NOT selfish. Even if the world tells us we already are. Is it any wonder that people who have this problem don’t take well to weight loss diets and programs that tell them to take care of themselves. You can’t tell a person who already thinks they are selfish to do that. And then expect them not to feel guilty. You know what people with eating disorders do when they feel guilty?
We must learn to put our oxygen mask on FIRST. And then ask ourselves a question.
Is THAT really vain?
Is THAT really selfish?