It takes time to decipher what we really need to fully recover. What works for others may or may not work for you. Be patient! Keep things simple and keep moving. Respect yourself and your efforts to find recovery. Keep taking small risks, building trust with yourself, and focusing on the bigger picture, you will walk free if you work at it.
Here are some ideas that might help you find balance and perspective to maintain recovery.
- Do first things first. (Take care of basics and prioritize by what matters in the long run.)
- Do one thing at a time. (A day at a time is often too much in recovery. Think "one moment, one step, one choice and one decision at a time, so you don't feel so overwhelmed.)
- Be true to yourself, be honest, and be kind. (Integrity builds recovery.)
- Be at peace. (Recovery is not a box that you fit your life into: it is open and free. That doesn't mean everything is grand in your life, it means you can live in peace no matter what. Get past the idea that things are happening "to you" or because of you-they are just happening.)
- Forget about counting days and years of recovery. (Recovery is not about days, or months, or years. You can have years of recovery and still be rigid and stuck. Recovery is an inside job: you know you are there when you are at peace with food and in balance in other areas of your life.)
- Do what is in front of you and keep it simple. (Remember we have to take care of basics before we can do much else: if hungry, eat; if angry, find a safe outlet; if lonely, reach out; if tired, sleep; if ashamed, talk about it.)
- Lighten up-don't take life so seriously. (In our eating disorders we spend so much time afraid and alone-lost in ourselves-that we lost the joy in life. Recovery means finding humor. Laughing at myself reduces shame and puts things back in perspective. It's not all about me, which is easier to see when I laugh and find joy. Everybody has insecurities. We get so busy looking at ourselves and our deficiencies we forget how good it feels to share our experience of life.)
- Do the work. (In the "doing" comes the understanding and the recover: we have to do the work. We take the steps to change the way we think. When we change the way we think, we get options to change what we do. When we take the right actions, we start getting the right results. Not feeling "up to it" today? Ask yourself what you would do if you felt better-and then do it.
- Focus on the positive, and seek balance in everything. (Balance to me means asking. Where am I focusing my energy? Then, I work on putting my energy where it matters. For instance, at work recently, I was using up way too much energy on the negative by arguing with people. It was draining! I had to remember that whatever I give out is what I get back. So I changed my attitude and perspective, which changed the dynamic completely - and I got my peace back.
- Keep taking stock of where you are and respond accordingly. (I sometimes forget to take care of the simple things. I have to recognize that when my food and sleep get sideways, I have to change what I am thinking and doing to make sure I take care of myself so I can focus on the positive: going to church, going to meetings, talking with my partner and support people, and just doing what's in front of me.
- Stay accountable for your thoughts and actions. (Once I got to a point where I did not want my disease to keep me stuck where I did not want my disease to keep me stuck any longer, started keeping myself accountable for my eating disorder and support people. Anne and I used to call this "telling on ourselves," which can sound like self-shaming, but we laughed a lot. It is amazing how silly our responses to life can be. I mean there is humor in admitting that, somebody didn't respond like I thought they should when I said something completely stupid, so now I want to shove food in my face. That will totally make it all better! Come on, people: lighten up! We are only as sick as our secrets!
- Find gratitude for what you have. (Gratitude is what makes it possible for me to do the things I need to do with love and compassion. I used to pray for the willingness to be willing. Now that comes easily because I experience the promises; I experience joy every day. It's the simple things.)
- Get into service: it is an important aspect of balance! (When I am too absorbed with myself now, I usually catch myself and laugh. Sometimes it is easy to forget that there is a whole other existence out there! When it's all about me, life can get awfully miserable. When it's all about how I can do to help others, it's amazing. When I found recovery, I also found empathy. My eyes opened up. Now I can see where people are hurting, and usually there is something right in front of me that I can do to help.)