Who are you? Not the song by the Who, or the theme to CSI, but how would you describe yourself?
Sounds easy enough to the person asking, but occasionally to the person being asked, this can provoke a quite complicated response. "In what way?" "Around who, my friends or family?" "I'm not sure I understand." But underlying this concept are multiple psychodynamic theories.
Consideration of psychodynamic theory and when most eating disorders have their onset (often teen years) has led to study of Erik Erikson's stages of development. According to his theory, the typical challenges at this time would be completion of mastery of Industry vs. Inferiority and once mastered, Identity vs. Role Confusion. To put in other words, the sense of being knowing you can succeed at something followed by discovering who you are, what you believe, and developing your own identity.
Or, learning to break from parents, or social groups and feeling that it is okay to do so. Depending on personality styles, this may be hard to do, or even inconceivable. Being able to say no to something may not be based on what you believe, but what you were taught to believe, or what you think someone may wish to hear.
Others may still suffer that feeling that they were never quite good enough. Passions may fly (or be absorbed) and some may wish to label you with poor self esteem or "inferiority complexes." The eating disorder may have been your method of being "good" at something. I challenge you to say "enough" and move on with your life and development as a person.
Role confusion may include anxieties about sexuality, religious preference, going to college or into the family business. You may recognize it because you are doing things because others suggest them to you, not because they light a fire in your heart. Being confused about who you are is a natural course of life, while anxiety provoking, happens to everyone. Julia Roberts in "Runaway Bride" is a great example of Role confusion. Her (unhappy, lost) character took on the characteristics of every person she was with, including how to eat her eggs, without ever knowing herself. In the end, she had to just spend time, figuring out what she liked and what pleased her.
In Spanish, to ask for permission, one would say, Puedo _____ (fill in the blank). This word is from the verb poder, which can be translated as may I, or can I, but most importantly as the power to.
Changing our language from I can, to I have the power to, strengthens our resolve and belief in our self and worth. No longer the little engine that could, we become the Acela.