Eating Disorders: Who Do You Want To Be?
Eating Disorders: Who Do You Want To Be?
Categories: RECENT RESEARCH
Greta Gleissner, LCSW
You are on the empowering journey of recovering from an eating disorder and now have the opportunity to be anyone you want to be. Building a new identity can be daunting at times, but it also provides an opportunity for you to establish more meaningful relationships and accomplish your lifelong goals. People may have previously identified you with your disorder and it may have impacted all parts of your life. Now is your chance. Who do you want to be without the disorder?
Taking Back Control
Previously, the eating disorder consumed your entire life. It was the ‘critical voice’ inside of your head telling you to be fearful. It dictated how you felt about your self-image, what you did in your free time, and may have even inhibited you from accomplishing your personal and professional goals.
With the pressures of daily life, you are inundated with multiple tasks that you have to accomplish. Eating is an action that many people feel they retain a lot of control. What if you can control other facets of your life by becoming who you want to be? It is possible. Below are some ways to help you take back control of your life by figuring out who you are.
How to begin discovering your new identity:
Often times, recovering from an eating disorder is filled with the stress of figuring out your identity without the disorder. Here are some ways to establish your identity to move forward from having your disorder define who you are:
Surround yourself with positive friends and family.- You do not have to figure out who you want to be alone. Do you remember all of the people who were there for you during your eating disorder recovery process? They care about you and want to see you through. Pay attention to what they are involved in. What do you admire about your friends and family? What qualities do they have that you want to possess? Your friends and family were on your journey of recovery and will always be there for you. Do not feel ashamed to ask for help.
Remain in contact with individuals that you connected with during your group therapy sessions. They are going through the same process you are. Connect with them and figure out if you have any shared interests or aspirations in the community. Figuring out who you are does not mean you have to do it alone. Get involved, seek out members of your support system, and become a member of a group that shares similar interests.
Establish self-compassion in your new identity.-Love and be kind to yourself. Get involved in activities that you love. Taking time for yourself and engaging in hobbies and activities you enjoy is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. Try new things-take cooking classes, sign up for yoga, take a pottery class, or join a baseball team. The stress induced by finding a new identity will be released when you take a break and experiment with new activities that you have never tried before.
Discovering new activities and surrounding yourself with new people will keep you feeling fresh and reinvigorated. Establishing a life of fun will help you to take back control of all other parts of your life. This outlet will help you to stay on the path of recovery and live a more balanced life.
Find what you love to do.- Do you have a passion for medicine? Law? Social work? Education? Children? Psychology? Discover your passion by reading and taking classes. You can even begin by volunteering and giving back to your community. Make your passion your occupation and you will be able to be more mindful in all other parts of your life.
Create goals for yourself.-What do you want to accomplish after your eating disorder recovery? Who do you see yourself becoming without the eating disorder identity? Model yourself after people you admire. Set realistic goals for yourself and then go after them. Continue to keep a journal or diary to reflect on your goals and progress.
Be open minded.- Be willing to adapt. If things do not work out at first, be mindful of the moment and be willing to jump in and try something new. Listen to advice from your therapists and your supportive friends and family. Use self-soothing techniques when you find yourself in difficult situations. Everything is a learning experience. Reflect on your journey and continue to strive to be your best self.
All we ever know is the present moment. If you are mindful of the moment, you will find out who you are. Your disorder does not define you, nor does it dictate who you will become. Find what you love in this world and go after it. This can be an opportunity for you to help others going through similar experiences. Your journey for your identity may take longer than expected. Be mindful of the moment and take it one day at a time. Enjoy the present, be kind to yourself, relish in your improvements, and be willing to adapt. If you do this, you are already on the path to discovering who you are.
Greta Gleissner, LCSW, is the Founder of Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists, a nationwide meal support and coaching program that provides services alongside treatment programs and outpatient providers. EDRS specializes in meal coaching, clinical coaching, in-home cooking, and therapeutic exposure 7 days a week; days, evenings, and weekend.