"Be sure you put your feet in the right place, and then stand firm."
- Abraham Lincoln
Self Esteem and Eating Disorders
Those suffering from eating disorders most often have two things which are the common denominators of eating disorders. The first common denominator is poor self-esteem, the belief that they are not good enough, that they do not have much to offer the world, and the "felt need" to do something to "make up for that," which is partially acted out in the eating disorder. Secondly, the eating disorder truly is a disorder of avoidance. It becomes a way for those so addicted and so trapped in its grip to avoid painful emotions, painful beliefs about self, pain that comes from a lost sense of one's identity, and further, a way to avoid rejection and other painful experiences in life.
Poor self-esteem is the thread of the deep woven fabric of an eating disorder. Eating disorder patients most often become trapped in a belief about self which is: ‘I am nothing more than my appearance, my achievements, and what others think of me.' It is these beliefs about themselves that keep the eating disorder alive and well. Therefore, a step to recovery, and then ultimately one of the blessings of recovery, is to once again learn that esteem and worth are much more than appearance, so much more than achievements, and everything more than what others might think and feel.
Self-esteem has more to do with what one believes in, what one thinks, feels and desires, the intentions of one's heart, one's sensibility, intuition, capabilities, and more. It has to do with passion and how one lives their life. Self-esteem has more to do with the internal than the external. For the religious, it has to do with deity and divinity, the meaning of being a creation of God. For others, it may include ideas of connection with others, self-respect, good intention, talents, whether developed or not, a sense of being rather than doing. It is about who we are, and the intentions of the heart.
According to Bednar Wells and Peterson (1989), self-esteem is: "An enduring and affective sense of personal value based on accurate self-perceptions."