Negative self-talk is something we all experience in life - whether you have an eating disorder or not. It erodes your sense of self worth. When you're trying to regain control of your life with eating disorder help to support your recovery, listening to your negative talk dis-empowers and causes you to question your true, beautiful nature.
If you're overcoming bulimia, here are a few ideas for how you can limit or empower yourself when you hear the negative thoughts in your head:
- Turn Negative to Neutral - Instead of thinking of a situation as 'terrible', lessen the severity to neutral by thinking of it instead as inconvenient or something that will pass (as all things do in time). Choose to change negative thoughts into neutral and neutral into positive. If you don't give something that much power, it won't have power over you. If you are angry with someone, tell yourself you are annoyed, misunderstanding them or that they have a different or unique perspective from you. Change your perception. Recovery and eating disorder support lessons come from a variety of sources. Look at every situation as a learning opportunity. That will reduce the sting of something that may at first hurt or upset you. Take a deep breath and ask yourself "what can I learn here?" or "what's the lesson in this for me?"
- Think Possibility - Empowering questions work better than defeatist or self-limiting statements during eating disorder recovery. When you find yourself saying, "I can't do it", replace it with the question, "is it possible I could do it?" or "do I really think this is beyond me?" You might surprise yourself if you just stop and ask yourself instead of trusting your first fear-based self-talk answer. Thinking in terms of possibility is empowering. Thinking in terms of limits and lack keeps us in our comfort zone.
- Notice Your Triggers - Become aware of your thought patterns and what leads you to think negative about yourself. When do you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself? Does this happen when you're under stress or with a particular person? There are often common triggers that cause our negative self-talk to come up. You will begin to see how such negative self talk can get in the way of your getting eating disorder help to work for you. Find new self-talk to replace the negative in those situations. If you find it happens a lot when you're getting dressed or in the shower, think of some positive empowering things you can replace the negative self-talk with. Instead of just allowing negative self-talk to kick in during those times, think ahead and maybe create a reminder (post-it note on your mirror) to help you remember to start the positive self talk. Such as "I feel good in my body" or "I am a beautiful person".
- Write it Down - You can use a journal, diary or blog to help you focus on positive, empowering thoughts. If you want to beat bulimia, it's an inner journey as much as it is an outer journey of creating new eating habits. Nearly all eating disorder therapists, treatment centers and recovery programs recommend writing about your healing process. Hearing ourselves talk by writing down our thoughts helps us clarify what we're really feeling and allows us t explore our inner conversations better.
- Say STOP! - Whenever you catch your thoughts heading in a negative direction, softly but firmly say "stop!". Actually saying the word is more effective than merely thinking it. It will also help you keep track of how many times in a day you beat yourself up. Over time you will discover how interrupting negative impulses and intentionally replacing your thoughts with positive self-talk will act as eating disorder help.
- Snap Out of It - Another suggested therapeutic mechanism is to wear a rubber band around your wrist. Some people use a rubber band on their wrist and pop it whenever they think a negative thought so they start to associate negative thoughts with pain. That little rubber band can become a convenient and inconspicuous bit of eating disorder support that goes with you everywhere.
As you gradually replace the negative self-talk with positive, empowering thoughts you will find that you are giving your eating disorder program a more realistic opportunity of working for you.
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