Such a powerful statement to me. My mantra, really. The first year of recovery was really about food and working out. Learning to eat bread twice a week without taking a box of laxatives or solely going to yoga rather than hitting the gym for 2 hours first. These innate behaviors were so foreign to me. My world was clouded by numbers, PRs at the gym and losing weight.
Anywho, as I move deeper into recovery, I see these were very surface level issues. Once, my biggest problem was getting a full cup of rice down for dinner. Now, I’’m learning what is beneath these issues and I’m realizing I have serious anxiety. I know I’ve always had anxiety, but I didn’t think it was that bad.
Through work with my outpatient team, I’m becoming of more aware of automatic thoughts I have that provoke such anxiety. I doubt my ability to complete anything correctly. I don’t think I can do anything! I don’t think I’m enough! Bla blah blah- this is all the stereotypical eating disorder shit you read in educational books(I always said that ‘wouldn’t be me’ but oops there it is. )
But it’s true. I’m becoming more conscious of just how negative my self-talk is. It was exhausting to deal with once I became aware of it, really. So the only choice I had was to change.
This right here- huge.
For a long time, and still even during vulnerable times, I don’t want change. I want to keep my eating disorder. It’s what I know, it’s control. I can avoid my actual problems by just focusing on my weight and dive right back into that miserable, miserable world.
But negative self-talk is bullshit and silly.
I watch all these self-help videos (shout out Preston Smiles, Alexi Panos & Brendon Burchard) and I have always listened and loved their messages but a positive mindset took time to really cultivate. I started journaling, and then started a gratitude journal, as well as yoga and things, were slowly coming together- well er more stable.
I saw the changes these implementations made but I decided I needed something to really focus on changing my self-talk, like, it was the last piece of the puzzle (for now).
So I did the most absolute crazy thing.
I looked in the mirror and said (okay actually I whispered) “I am capable. I am intelligent. I am strong. I am beautiful.”
Holy shit did I feel like a complete weenie or what?! The words barely came out and I think I laughed through most of them.
I tried it again a few day later and though still quivering, I actually felt pretty empowered. I had never said any of these things to myself. It was always “I can’t do this. I’m stupid. I’m sad. I’m fat”.
I started to focus on the evidence I do have to change my mindset. I look at my resume- I went to a good school, graduated magna cum laude, I have a wonderful job, my teammates tell me I’m doing great work but I just never feel like I’m capable of completing the next project or task- that I’m not smart enough or creative enough to do it. Really this doubt happens in all aspects of my life, not just work.
The eating disorder takes over your mind. That’s why we explain it as another person most times.The eating disorder is always there telling me “I should go to the gym”, “I shouldn’t eat breakfast”, “I’m too fat to wear this”, “I’m a failure”, “I can’t do it”.
Eating disorders make the mind a negative place. And since a majority of eating disorders come partnered with anxiety disorders- the two of these can take a horrible toll on self-talk.
After all these years, automatic negative self-talk is so easy to me and comes automatically. While a positive mindset and self-talk take loads of effort and work.
But by repeating more positive reminders, I’m exercising my positive mindset and planting healthy seeds. It’s definitely hard to stick to, I totally don’t do it daily like I should because it’s easier to go back to your negative mindset, it’s what you know, what you’re comfortable with even if you hate it. But a good friend reminded me you must do what’s right, not what’s easy. So slowly, little by little, I’m exerting a shit ton of energy so that positive self-talk becomes a habit.
I will since doing so, my anxiety feels lower, my stress has decreased and my mood has improved but I wouldn’t report any drastic changes. But I notice enough change to know this is worth the effort, that I’m exercising my mind to get to where I want to be.
I imagine all of us could improve our self-talk. Maybe you’re pretty confident, but I bet you could focus, practice and make even more changes. Even if occasional negative self-talk doesn’t bother you (although it totally does), it could be affecting the people around you. By you bashing yourself, it just normalizes the behavior for those with anxiety or eating disorders. We need strong role models to learn positive self-talk from.
I dare you to try it- stand in the mirror and give yourself 5 compliments (or a full minute! I’m not there yet!). You may feel foolish but those are the moves that create a healthy mindset, carrying over to each aspect of your life.
Try it and then try suggesting it to your loved one. Don’t be weird about by watching or something. Just say that you tried it and you think you’re going to do it more often and thought they could to…on their own (if that’s what they need). I’ve just found it to be a powerful practice and I truly believe everyone should do it, especially those with anxiety or eating disorders!