So therapy for eating disorders, and really therapy in general, is all about being gentle and kind to yourself. Often, our mental health hinges on ingrained sense of worthlessness, habits of kicking ourselves when we’re down, and long held patterns of shame.
To move toward recovery, one needs to start putting old behaviors behind, including negative self-talk, self-harming behavior (which, coincidentally, includes binge eating and exercising as a form of punishment ) and basing worth as a person on achievements and how hard one is working to change what is “bad.”
I’ve also been pretty heavily looking at the Intuitive Eating program, which focuses on the idea of trusting your body to know what it wants to eat and how much it needs to eat. One of the examples that’s stuck with me is that instead of saying things like “I really ate like a pig today” or “man, I need to do better tomorrow,” you’d focus on thoughts like “I had many opportunities to honor my hunger today” or “my body really needed rest today.”
Part of recovery is this reframing. But I realized this morning I keep thinking of this kind of thinking and attitude is a sign of weakness.
Now, pushing ourselves is a time tested value of our culture; for many with ED, pushing ourselves looks like a constant barrage of “never good enough.” These thoughts are fueled by fear – fear that if, for whatever reason, we calmed down our self-flagellation, we would be down the path of no return, eating until we burst and never exercising again. This kind of thinking is ridiculously hard to change. Imagine being miserable with yourself all the time, but scared to change because you could worsen exponentially.
So how do we move forward? How to rebuild trust in a body we hate? How to rekindle love for the body we’re in? How to truly believe we can truly stop punishing ourselves, that what we are really is enough? Unfortunately, like everything else, the best teacher is experience, and experience only comes after we take that leap of faith.