Who Do You Admire?

Think about the people in your life who you admire. Not the celebrities whose hair you hope to have someday, or the friend who has a great job, an impeccably decorated apartment or a devoted boyfriend. Think about the people you admire for who they are, not what they have or do. Then try to tease out why you admire them: Is it because of how they deal with hardship? How they interact with others? How they look at the world?

At my grandma’s memorial service a few years back, her nephew spoke about the time his parents took my grandma, and her SIX children, into their home for an indefinite amount of time. “How did you all do it?” someone asked. “It was an emergency,” he responded, signaling that there was no question in the matter: The drive to help others easily trumped any challenge of feeding and clothing ten little kids.

His words reminded me of the qualities I want to cultivate in myself. Openness, generosity and flexibility. Since then, I’ve noticed that the people I most admire are those who roll with the punches and are open, honest and giving.

Eating disorder or not, it’s easy to get bogged down in the superficial. Social media – hell, even media in general – affords us constant access to all sorts of idyllic images and lifestyles. Even the most grounded among us can fall prey to thinking that money, “good” looks or success can buy happiness and contentment.

But when we identify our own values – not the things we think we should have or be – we can start to work toward our own fulfillment.

If you don’t know who you admire, you can start by writing down people you love and respect. What qualities do they have? Do you hope to cultivate some of those qualities in yourself?

You don’t have to know all the people you admire. You can admire Melinda Gates for her work in the developing world, even though you’ve probably never met her. You can admire Demi Lovato for her mental health advocacy efforts. You can admire President Obama or Malala Yousafzai, or even Katniss or Harry Potter. Knowing why you admire them is what matters.

 

You can also work in reverse, identifying specific values or beliefs you admire, and then looking for people in your life who uphold those things.

So what does all of this have to with recovery?

Much like the “cast of characters” exercise, identifying people you admire helps you differentiate your healthy self from your eating disorder. You can see that your hopes and goals for yourself, and what’s important to you, are much bigger than the goals of an eating disorder. You might learn that your goals and values are incompatible with an eating disorder. You may be able to pinpoint concrete steps you can take in recovery to move you closer to your goals and more in line with your values.

If the cast of characters helps you to separate your healthy voice from your eating disorder voice, identifying people you admire helps you define that distinction and cultivate the healthy part of you. As you get to know your healthy self in recovery, you can use these admirable people – and their admirable traits – as an anchor to keep you working toward your own idea of wellness.

Image credit to Mary White.

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1 Comment

  • i am wondering if I may be allowed to use the art posted on your site for my treatment center without it posing a copyright infringement.
    These prints are peacefully beautiful!!!!!

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