Image: @auttgoodSelf-Acceptance? I know, right? You may be thinking, “how can I accept myself, when I hate myself?”
This is what ED’s do. They destroy our sense of self and worth.
For many years, I fought against myself, genuinely believing that no part of me wasn’t good enough. That I needed to change, be thinner, prettier, trendier and the rest.
My main issue was with my body, why couldn’t I be thinner? All I could see were those around me that were skinny, and this dominated my thoughts. My main goal in life was to change the way I naturally was. Of course this had severe repercussions both physically and mentally. It’s partly what led me to suffer with bulimia for 7 years, as well as the effects that lasted for several years more.
Then as I finally embarked on therapy, started meditating and practicing more yoga, things started to change. The teachers I was listening too all start talking about this idea of self-compassion and being kind to yourself. Initially, I was confused, this was new territory. Being kind to yourself? I had no idea how to do this.
However, with time, patience and a fierce determination that I no longer wanted an ED to rule my life, things started to change.
I had glimmers of hope, feelings of liberation.
I was starting to break through and for the first time in my life, I felt free.
The key to this is self-acceptance, this means changing the perspective of ourselves, bringing us back in line with our true nature. Accepting your body just as it is, for all it’s beauty and all it’s lumps and bumps and curves is the key to happiness. When you can start to see just how imperfect we all are as human beings, how different everyone bodies are, there is a sense of relief, ease and letting go. Shifting from pushing, forcing and punishing the body to being gentle, kinder and nourishing.
What I want to share with you now are some practical advice on tips on how to start cultivating this sense of acceptance towards yourself and your body.
Stop buying fashion and beauty magazines, now. Like seriously. These images do not represent 99% of the population and distort our view on what a normal human body looks like. We have no idea what is going on for these men and women behind the scenes of the glossy magazines. Perhaps they too are suffering from an ED. But how we would know? Save your money instead.
Same goes for Instagram, un-follow anyone that makes you feel bad about yourself. It just isn’t worth it. Instagram has some great body positive idols, find them to follow instead. See how things in your life start to change.
That is the thing with ED, we have spent so long telling ourselves we aren’t good enough, that we need to put the effort in to ‘trick’ the mind into telling ourselves that we are. These false stories of not being good enough often run so deep.
To combat this, I leave a huge print-out on my mirror saying “I LOVE ME”. It’s really helped! It’s a daily reminder that I had placed there reminding me just how good I am. I also wrote down a list of qualities I love about myself that weren’t related to my weight or appearance and kept them in my diary. These can be used a reference when you are feeling stuck
Take care of your inner child
A really important step to my own recovery was remembering myself as a child: this innocent, sweet, lively, playfully curly redheaded girl and to remember what I was like before all the ED started to happen. I’ve started keeping a photo of myself as a child in my purse.
Whenever I feel low I can remind myself that this child is still part of me, and that she still needs taking care of.
Reminding yourself of your inner child helps us to take care of ourselves, just as we naturally want to take care of a child. Ask yourself, what do you need? Just as you would ask a child. It helps find a softness, kindness and warmth towards ourselves.
Do something for others
With eating disorders, we can get stuck in our own minds and trapped in our stories. Right in the middle of my eating disorder, I took a year off and went to teach English in Thailand.
It was the BEST thing I could ever have done and for a while the eating disorder dropped to the side. I found a purpose in teaching children that were in need. It gave me new life and distracted me from my own thoughts.
So perhaps find a local charity you can volunteer at. Or perhaps collect clothes for the homeless. There are endless volunteer opportunities awaiting you.
This is another great tool for starting to re-wire the brain has been programmed.
Every day before bed think of 3 thing you are grateful for, however big and however small.
They can be related to your body or not. For example, I am grateful for lunch with my friend, I am grateful for being able to breathe, I am gratefully for my eyes so I can see. Keep this up for at least a month and start to notice the shifts.