The journey to recover from an eating disorder unites two distinct selves: the Eating Disorder Self and the Healthy Self.
As you conceptualize this, draw directly from your own experience. Do you find that one part of you wants to heal, and the other is scared? Is one part of you pursuing recovery, and another part of you does not care? Or, despite all your efforts, you continually fall back into old thought patterns and habitual behaviors. These are your two selves.
The Dance of Two Selves
At the core of recovery is a delicate dance between the Eating Disorder Self and the Healthy Self. Recognizing and reconciling these aspects is crucial for sustainable progress. The “8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder” book, written by Carolyn Costin and Gwen Grabb extend a warm invitation into the realm of insights, particularly in Key 2, dedicating an entire chapter to mastering this essential skill. Becoming an observer of thoughts is THE KEY, asking, “What advice would you give to a friend expressing those thoughts?”
1.Notice and Observe:
- Cultivate Mindfulness: Foster an awareness of thoughts without judgment.
- Journaling: Document thoughts for tangible progress tracking.
2.Consult Your Inner Advisor:
- Empathy from Within: Extend compassion to yourself.
- Role-Playing Techniques: Visualize comforting guidance.
3.Express, but End with Health:
- Permission to Express: Acknowledge and allow thoughts.
- Affirmation and Closure: End with positive thoughts for a mindset shift.
4.Practice and Believe:
- Repetition for Transformation: Practice dialogue consistently.
- Building Mental Resilience: Strengthen resilience and cognitive pathways.
In essence, these four steps serve as a roadmap for integrating the Eating Disorder Self and the Healthy Self. By incorporating mindfulness, empathy, expressive acknowledgment, and consistent practice, you pave the way for a transformative journey toward complete freedom from the clutches of an eating disorder.
As an Eating Disorder Recovery Coach
I empower my clients by teaching these transformative practices. These steps help guide individuals to strengthen their Healthy Self and gain profound insights into their Eating Disorder Self. We engage in dedicated practice sessions as a collaborative effort, reinforcing the skills needed for this internal dance. Together, we navigate the terrain of mindfulness, empathy, expressive acknowledgment, and consistent practice toward recovery. Through repeated practice, my clients not only strengthen their resilience but also unlock a deeper understanding of themselves, fostering the convergence of their two selves on the journey to complete freedom from their eating disorder.
A Goodbye Letter
In the realm of eating disorder recovery, a widely embraced practice involves crafting a “Goodbye Letter” as a symbolic gesture toward bidding farewell to one’s eating disorder. While this is undoubtedly a valuable exercise, an additional step can potentially amplify its therapeutic impact—inviting your Eating Disorder Self to respond to your Goodbye Letter.
The Eating Disorder Self Response
This approach not only brings forth a deeper understanding of the lingering reasons behind the presence of the Eating Disorder Self but also acts as a key to unlocking profound levels of healing. The process of writing a goodbye letter serves as a cathartic release, allowing individuals to express their intention to move beyond the constraints imposed by the eating disorder. However, this is just the initial stride on the path to recovery. By extending an invitation for the Eating Disorder Self to respond, you create a dynamic, insightful dialogue that unravels the intricacies of its persistence.
Imagine this exchange as a tender, reflective conversation, a bridge between your present self, seeking recovery, and the part of you that feels stuck in the patterns of the eating disorder. This dialogue is not merely an exercise in communication. It is an opportunity to dive into the motivations, fears, and coping mechanisms the Eating Disorder Self believes are essential for your well-being. As you open the door to this reciprocal communication, you may find the Eating Disorder Self articulating its perceived role in your life. It may provide a sense of control in times of chaos or a shield against vulnerability. Understanding these underlying motivations is like unlocking a treasure trove of self-awareness with self-compassion.
The Relationship Between the Two Selves
This process facilitates exploring the relationship between the two selves—one yearning for freedom and the other, though maladaptive, attempting to shield you from perceived threats. It’s an acknowledgment of the complexity within, recognizing that the Eating Disorder Self, however detrimental, emerged as a tender coping mechanism in response to challenges. Armed with insights into the motivations of the Eating Disorder Self, you gain the capacity to address the root causes of its persistence. This understanding becomes a powerful catalyst, fostering self-compassion and paving the way for strategic interventions tailored to address the underlying needs of the eating disorder attempts to fulfill.
Embracing the Dance in Recovery
In the dance of recovery, the Eating Disorder Self and Healthy Self reunion emerge as a powerful awakening. This healing journey, encapsulated by the four foundational steps, is not just a process but a profound self-discovery. As you cultivate mindfulness and observe your thoughts without judgment, remember that the pages of your journal become a blank space for transformation. Also, might I squeeze in- God is not finished writing your story yet!
Imagine the profound impact when you channel the warmth, empathy, and wisdom you extend to others toward your own inner struggles. Recovery does not happen overnight but is realized through practice. Repetition transforms this internal dance from challenging to habitual. With each repetition, you are not just reshaping thought patterns and neuropathways but constructing the foundation of a resilient, healthier, and more enlightened version of yourself.
You are Not Alone
As you do the work of recovery, dialogue between your Healthy Self and Eating Disorder Self to heal your mind, God is right beside you. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:7.
To conclude, this is from one of my new favorite books, “Breathe as Prayer” by Jennifer Tucker. I highly recommend it!
“Sometimes it seems like the world around me is dancing, and I cannot hear the song.” “And when the brutal beat of discouragement drums on, we remember that He holds us through every stanza of suffering until a chorus of victory breaks through. God is still writing your story, and nothing is wasted – it is all working together into a beautiful composition that will ultimately sing of His goodness and glory.”
With Love & Light,