I know that often times those suffering from eating disorders are triggered in a negative way when they picture the future. This is what we call future tripping.
I will be unlovable at my normal healthy weight.
I will gain all this weight and still be unhappy.
I found, though, that I could use thinking of the future in a way to positively fuel my recovery. I call this future thriving. Rather than tripping out about what could go wrong in the future, you envision where you would be if things worked out (because if you choose recovery, they will).
When you think of yourself in five years (or ten or twenty), do you hope that you are living in a state of body hatred, starvation, stress, and sadness? Do you envision yourself not having a family or any strong relationships because you are still so consumed with food and your weight that it takes up all your time? Do you see yourself logging in every calorie you eat into an online calculator and missing birthday parties and holidays out of fear? My guess is this is not what you think about your life being like when you picture yourself in the future. Or at the very least, this is not what you want to see yourself like in the future.
In recovery, when I thought of my future self, I envisioned being in a great relationship and owning a beautiful home. I envisioned myself laughing with friends around a table filled with delicious food. I envisioned myself having a career that I am passionate about and energized to do each day.
I envisioned myself smiling with a healthy body and mind. I envisioned myself fully living, without the mental chains of an eating disorder.
In each moment that I felt called to restrict food, over-exercise, or cancel plans due to food anxieties, I would envision my ideal future self. I would see that happy woman living in a healthy body with an abundant life, and I would ask myself what I could do in that moment that would bring me one step closer to that vision. The answer was always clear.
In order to thrive in the future, I needed to choose recovery in the present moment. Not tomorrow, not next month, right now.
The thing is, you can’t get to where you want to be by snapping your fingers. You don’t all of a sudden change drastically overnight. It is a process, and each thing you do every day, every hour, and every minute turns into who you will be as this future self. So, what you choose to do in that instance when you are feeling the pull to go back to a disordered behavior, will contribute to who your future self will be.
I practiced this every day throughout the recovery process, and I can tell you that I am now living as the future self that I once only dreamed about. Rather than fearing what the future would hold if I decided to gain weight, get healthy, and fully heal, I decided to embrace the future and believe that I could get there with time. Each small decision to recover strung together into a long journey to becoming a better me.
If you want to thrive in the future, you must choose recovery today. And tomorrow. And the next day.
Envision your future self and ask what you could do right now that will bring you closer to that beautiful and free life that you so deserve.