When you find yourself returning to using your eating disorder as a way of coping, it can help to think through what you did in the past, what helped before and what didn’t. If you can remember something that helped before, perhaps there is a small change, something about that, that you could experiment with.
Using an EXPERIMENTAL framework is helpful because your confidence is not tied to the outcome alone. When we experiment, we are being realistic, that something we try may help and it may not and that’s ok. We are learning what helps and what doesn’t. This is a learning experience. It also allows us to stop attaching judgment to our attempts, helping with that perfectionist trait that so many of us have. No matter what happens, it’s all learning.
- Can you reflect on what you do in your life that makes you feel more like yourself, and less like what you think you ‘should’ be – or less like yourself with an eating disorder? Sometimes these are the things to slip away first when we get into a rut with ‘shoulds’ and the feeling of not being good enough. Can you imagine your day if there were no should in it? How might that day differ from the days you are having at the moment? What can you learn from this to help you to fill your days with more joy and less shoulds?
So much of living life with an eating disorder is about keeping feelings inside and controlling the inside because the feelings feel scary and make us feel out of control. When in reality, processing feelings (which involves naming our feelings, being aware of our feelings and expressing them in a way that feels safe and doesn’t involve disordered eating or exercise behaviours) is a much more effective and kind way of managing how we feel. When we internalise our feelings, and mask them with disordered eating behaviours, they remain inside us, as strong as ever, building up until we feel out of control. Processing them, in fact, means that we stay far more in control of them. Think through ways that you find helpful to clarify and process your feelings
People have told us that some of the following helps to do this:
- Writing to a support email, such as Bodywhys: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Taking a break
- Watching TV with no guilt or ‘shoulds’
- Making yourself a playlist that helps you to feel certain ways
- Being kind to yourself – imagine you are your younger self who was upset, how would you comfort yourself?
There are no rules or ‘shoulds’ about how to do any of this. This is about you finding out what works for you in the moment.