Updated: Aug 18, 2021
Guatma Buddha once said, “You only lose what you cling to.” This rule applies to everything, and it definitely applies to your eating disorder.
And why do you cling to things in the first place? You cling to them because you fear losing them.
When we cling to something, we are afraid. We’re afraid of losing something that means a lot to us. We’re afraid that without that something, our very identity is compromised.
For years, we have assumed that our ED is a part of who we are, and we’ve acted accordingly. It became one with us. So, in order to understand how to believe you will recover, you must first ask yourself how you’ve made it a part of your identity.
How do you separate your ED from your identity so you can finally believe you will recover? See my blog below for a guide!
Separating Your Identity from Your ED
The question you must ask yourself about anything you cling to out of fear is the following: “Who am I without X?” In ED recovery, the question is, “Who am I without my eating disorder?”
It’s a scary question, because it rocks our world. It challenges the idea of who we think we are. This question surrounding identity often keeps us stuck in our disorders. And when we’re stuck in our ED, we are stuck in the same feedback loop. On some level, we have assumed that this set of behaviors, though hurtful, helps define us.
It’s scary to redefine yourself. We may fear the unknown of who we are without our addictions. As George Addair stated, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” In recovery, what you want is found by traversing the path across your fear.
We fear change. And even though we want recovery - something that is “on the other side of fear” - we may not think we are capable or worthy of having it.
When we stop clinging to the “thing” as being an integral part of us or our lives (in this case our eating disorder), everything shifts.
Sometimes we even cling to an outcome, like the status of “being recovered” itself. What you’re looking for – whether it’s the label of being recovered, financial or professional success, or anything else outside yourself – can’t be found at the end of the proverbial road.
What you want is only available to you in the present moment. And once you come into the present moment, you begin separate the behaviors and outcomes from your identity.
When you step into your true identity, you see that you don’t need something outside yourself. What you need is to feel whole and complete. Since in this moment you are already whole and complete, your desire needs to be to feel that. And when you feel that feeling of wholeness, you recognize that you are recovered already. And you are recovered because you have claimed it for yourself in this moment.
And this brings you to a paradox. How do you begin to notice that you can have your desired feeling and outcome in the here and now?
Feel That Feeling & Believe in Your Recovery
You have the resources within you to step to the other side of fear and stop clinging to behaviors that don’t represent who you are. Again, the key is in feeling the feeling of wholeness. When you feel whole, you begin to believe that you are recovered.
What you believe about yourself informs who you are and are becoming. If you believe that you “have” to cling to your old ways in order to have an identity, then that is what you will experience.
But if you begin to believe that you can have all you desire in the form of a feeling right now, then that is what you will experience. The key is tuning in to how you already feel complete. Maybe you feel complete with a long breath. Maybe you feel complete when you look up at the sky. Maybe you (like I) feel it when you look into your child’s eyes.
When you feel that feeling of completeness, you are giving your body and your spirit permission to move on from your old ways. And if you are like me, those old ways include an eating disorder.
Clinging to anything simply means that you will eventually lose it. When you feel lost and confused, it’s normal to cling to something you once found comforting. But clinging to your eating disorder out of fear will not get you anywhere that you haven’t already been. Now that you’ve decided to recover, it’s time to allow yourself to believe that you can. And once you believe that you can recover, you are well on your way to experiencing that as your present – and consistent - reality.
But part of the “old you” (which wasn’t you at all) will push back.
You May Experience Resistance From Your Body and Your Mind
Your body is accustomed to making certain feedback loops. It has worked very hard to attain some level of homeostasis – a level of physical equilibrium – in spite of your behaviors. And since you’re alive today, it’s done an excellent job of it! However, now that it is being presented with a new set of external circumstances that change its internal environment, it will express its confusion through a variety of often-unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, and fatigue.
Your mind, too, will rebel against the changes that you are making for yourself internally. Now that your body chemistry is changing and adapting, your mind will also be receiving what may feel like an overwhelming amount of information. That’s because what you once flooded it with – adrenaline and similar chemicals – are no longer pumping into it. It can begin to absorb a lot more data, which may provoke some anxiety.
These feelings and symptoms are temporary. If you have to remind yourself of this fact every minute of every day, then do so. What you are experiencing, though vastly unpleasant at times, will not persist for the remainder of your life. This I promise you. You can and will persevere. I learned time and time again that once I decided I would recover, it was only a matter of time before I did. This leads me to my final point:
All You Have to Do Is Be Willing to Believe
It doesn’t take a monumental shift in a short span of time in order to recover. If you have difficulty arriving at the belief that you will recover for your eating disorder, do what I did at first: simply be willing to believe you can recover.
The willingness is truly all it takes to live a happy, healthy life. When you simply willing to do something, you’re more than half way there. And then, in a moment, you are there, believing in your recovery.
And when you believe you will recover, you’re already have.