Frequently, when we are ready to acknowledge that something in our lives needs to be changed, we decide it needs to be changed NOW! Urgency related to eating disorder recovery seems to be a common denominator among my clients – after all, who would want to remain in pain for even a second longer than they have to? And yet, wanting something to change quickly, especially an issue that may have been around for years, does not mean that the recovery process can occur quickly.
Where does this urgency come from? Often, I find that the urgency to “get (eating disorder recovery) over with” comes not only from wanting to be out of pain quickly, but also from our society’s marketing of quick fixes for weight-related issues. Unfortunately, this also means that many people lose all hope when change does not occur in fast, dramatic fashion. They fear that if change is not swift, this way (therapy) of dealing with food/weight issues won’t work for them either. Yet, nothing is further from the truth. When we are walking alongside a client on the bumpy, indirect route of recovery, we regularly witness that small, deliberate steps create long-lasting change. In fact, in my experience, the hardest part of eating disorder recovery is not taking the steps, but developing patience and faith in the process.
If you are having a hard time tolerating the pace of your recovery, ask yourself these questions and consider whether you might be on the right – albeit slow and steady – track.
1) Do you feel different than before? Typically, even before any behavioral change occurs with food, changes are noticeable in our emotional state. Maybe we don’t feel so anxious about food or we are more aware of the emotional triggers for eating disorder behaviors than we have been in the past?
2) Are there changes happening in how you engage with food or your body? Small changes are the key here. For example, are you bingeing less frequently? Or, are you considering stopping a behavior even if you are not yet effective in preventing it?
3) Are you thinking about your body or food differently? Eating disorder recovery gives us the rare gift of developing self-compassion for our physical self and physical needs. Finally learning to listen to what your wise body has been trying to tell you all along is a big step for someone who has been imprisoned by their eating disorder.
If you can see your perspective, your feelings, or behaviors starting to shift, give yourself the gift of time. It takes time to rebuild a relationship, especially if that relationship is with yourself. Take the next step, however small, and you will be rewarded.