Making visuals and thought maps with my clients is 100% my favourite thing to do, and breaking the box with my young ED (eating disorder) clients is always an eye-opening one! The goal is to find other, more meaningful, aspects of themselves that make them THEM.
The way I explain and use the box visual (in relation to body image):
What’s your current understanding of what matters about you? What’s your current definition of body image? (that’s the box)
What else can we find that makes you YOU? What might matter more than what’s inside the body? (that’s the world beyond the box)
Disordered eating, diet culture, stereotypical norms, low self-worth… they put us in a box and then keep us there. A box that feels too tight, too small, too empty. It might even feel like we can’t grow anymore or else we will suffocate in the box, or like the box wasn’t meant to fit us. We morph and shape-shift and conform to fit its edges. We have to, because we aren’t boxes, we’re humans.
But, what if instead of morphing to the boxes edges we recognized and accepted that the box isn’t ours, or that it’s ill-fitted, and gave ourselves permission to break the hell out of it? What if we looked beyond the edges and saw how much more there was to us, to being a human, to the world?
In the case of disordered eating, the box might* look like the thin ideal, fear foods or rules, abiding by the scale or calories or a maximum pant size. But, it almost always* includes a constant battle to measure up to an unrealistic standard with a moving target. A moving target makes it damn near impossible to hit a bullseye. Which means, we are fighting for something that is not only impossible, but also something that is ultimately unimportant and harmful.
So, I urge my clients to label their box and instead of continuing to live inside of it (because it’s become comfortable and safe), to break its mold and make their own. They can make it a star, a circle, a fricken cloud for all I care - but they have to make it their own.
I did it, a lot of my clients have done it, and I get to witness that shit every week and it’s amazing to see. So, you better believe you can do it too!