Three Pointers for Pushing Back Perfectionism in Eating Disorder Recovery

Three Pointers for Pushing Back Perfectionism in Eating Disorder Recovery

Feel like you aren’t good enough? Always comparing yourself to others? Constantly cataloguing your faults and feeling like a failure? It sounds like you are struggling with perfectionism. It can be so challenging to fall into the “compare and despair” pit when you are in San Diego and there is such an emphasis on perfect looks and perfect achievement, materialistically or otherwise. Even elsewhere in the U.S. and around the world, perfectionism is a trait that can be common in people suffering from eating disorders.

As most eating disorder researchers and experts will say, eating disorders are brain disorders. When compared to brains of people without eating disorders, people with eating disorders have areas of their brains that don’t function as efficiently or effectively. What that means is that if you have an eating disorder, it’s not your fault. It’s not about willpower or about sucking it up to “just eat” or “just stop eating.” It’s about needing to get help to change how your brain works. Struggling with perfectionism AND an eating disorder can lead to (a) feeling like you have to be perfect, so you engage in eating disorder behaviors to try to be perfect, or (b) feeling disappointed or ashamed that you’re not perfect, so you you engage in eating disorder behaviors to counteract these emotions. Either way, perfectionism can be a challenge to recovery.

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