In honor of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, here’s a blurb about one of the most vital ingredients for eating disorder recovery, for living free from an eating disorder, hope.
Preserving hope on the path of eating disorder recovery is a challenging endeavor. There will be times when a part of you believes things will not improve, things will never change, and a future free from an eating disorder is impossible. In this dark place, recovery does not even seem like a viable option. How do you cultivate hope when this hopeless part of you clouds your current outlook and vision of the future?
The critical thinking part of you has its benefits, as described by Maria Popova.
“Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté. Finding fault and feeling hopeless about improving the situation produces resignation — cynicism is both resignation’s symptom and a futile self-protection mechanism against it. Blindly believing that everything will work out just fine also produces resignation, for we have no motive to apply ourselves toward making things better. But in order to survive — both as individuals and as a civilization — and especially in order to thrive, we need the right balance of critical thinking and hope.”
Critical thinking helps evaluate what coping skills are useful and which aren’t, which relationships support recovery and which ones are barriers to recovery, what your strengths are and what your growth areas are… The critical part of you is trying to help you be the best person you can be, to motivate you to “apply yourself towards making things better.” However, in its extreme role, the critical part of you hijacks your perspective, leaving no room for hope, only space for criticism, doubt, and pessimism.
Where to find hope? At your core, you know recovery from an eating disorder is possible. You have heard eating disorder recovery story after recovery story- they are all over the internet. Real and inspiring stories of how people transitioned from living with an eating disorder to recovering, surviving, and thriving without one. These are hard facts and evidence that recovery is possible.
At times, the eating disorder part of you or the critical part of you, will try to convince you that the recovery journey is futile. And sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith, and believe that your destiny is more than your weight, body, how you look, counting calories, avoiding foods, exercise, etc. Your future has more in store for you than myopically complying with the eating disorder’s behaviors, feelings, and beliefs. You were not put on this Earth to follow the eating disorder’s orders and directives. You were put on this Earth to do so much more.
“Among our most universal human longings is to affect the world with our actions somehow, to leave an imprint with our existence. Both construction and destruction leave a mark and give us a sense of agency in the world. Now, destruction is necessary sometimes — damaged and damaging systems need to be demolished to clear the way for more enlivening ones. But destruction alone, without construction to follow it, is hapless and lazy. Construction is far more difficult, because it requires the capacity to imagine something new and better, and the willingness to exert ourselves toward building it, even at the risk of failure. But that is also far more satisfying in the end.” –Maria Popova.