Learning to be at Ease With Your Thoughts in Recovery
Happy Friday! Todays post is from Tina Klaus of Denver, Colorado. Tina is a speaker and an artist that lives with her husband and her little dog, Tulip. She created her recovery blog, Don't Live Small, after some time in treatment as a place to be open and let her voice be heard as she continued with recovery. She credits the blog with helping her, and others, to find themselves, as they walk through their recovery journeys.
Do you still have eating disorder thoughts in recovery? Anyone who has suffered with an eating disorder will tell you how maddening their eating disorder voice and thoughts can be. This voice is hypercritical, nagging and unrelenting creating a overload of self-defeating thoughts that keep coming at you; reminding you that you better pay attention and listen up. When in the throes of being entangled in the darkness of this disease this noisy persistent voice and the destructive thoughts it places in your mind bombards you every waking minute. As a result, it all becomes too crazy making, exhausting, and difficult to ignore or fight against.
I often describe what it’s like to be continuously probed and consumed by these thoughts to others like this, imagine that you are having a conversation with another person, and while you are trying to focus and engage in it, another loud and chatty conversation is simultaneously occurring in your head that only you can hear, making it difficult to be fully present in the moment. That eating disorder voice and the exasperating thoughts it creates in your mind can often chase and follow you into your recovery process. Learning how to shift the perception of them and not allow them to control your behavior and the choices you make is a tough and challenging piece in the recovery puzzle.
Today, I am in recovery and yes my eating disorder thoughts still occur and enter my mind. I don’t choose them or want them regardless they are there. The good news is they are not as loud, invasive and debilitating as they once were. The difference now is that over time, I’ve learned and continually practice to be aware, acknowledge and accept that these thoughts will occur. As a result I am able to discern and break down these parasitic thoughts and be extra prepared for their arrival. I don’t try to fight against them to prevent their occurrence. This does not mean that I act upon them but rather I let them be just what they are, thoughts. In the past when I fought against these thoughts it became more combative in my head, but when I started accepting them, I noticed that they started to diffuse and the raucous slowed down.
“Facing it. Always Facing It. That’s the way through.” – Joseph Conrad
As a result , I’m more at ease by knowing that I get to choose how I respond to them. I often repeat to myself throughout the day that a thought is just a thought. I no longer label them as good or bad, or true or false. This allows me a small window of time to stop and redirect myself from interpreting them and allowing myself to turn them into something much bigger than what they are in actuality. This shifts the power away from the thoughts and gives it back to me allowing me to understand that my thoughts don’t have to become my actions or dictate my choices. I also want you to know that I can’t always do this and I still have slip-ups and bad days; I accept this too. This is not about being perfect. It’s about progress over time and doing the next right thing. This is what I focus on in my recovery journey.
Yes, the bumpy road to recovery is a scary and a rough terrain, given that you don’t know what’s lies around each turn and how you’re going to respond to it. Admitting to yourself that you’re scared and fearful of what lies ahead is important to recognize; it’s a small but a powerful step. Consciously being mindful and noticing your eating disorder thoughts takes consistency, time and practice. However, over time the small consistent steps you take in accepting your thoughts as a part of your recovery allows you the opportunity to make a different choice. I can't tell you concretely how it happens but I can tell you this, if you continue to stick it out and not give up on yourself you will start to trust and have faith in YOUR thoughts, YOUR actions, YOUR choices and in YOUR life. You don’t have to live being trapped by your eating disorder thoughts.