If you have ever found yourself thinking (or saying), “I don’t have a reason to recover”, “I can’t find a reason to recover”, “What’s the point of recovering”, “I don’t feel worth recovering for”, then the first thing you need to know is that you are not alone.
Everyone who has ever tried to recover or emerge from some significant trial has felt this way at one time or another. It is part of the human condition – to struggle, to doubt, to rally, and, for those who persevere, to triumph.
But what sets those who eventually do triumph apart from the rest?
George Lucas, pioneer of one of the most beloved movie series of all times, gets right to the heart of the matter when he says, “You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you. If you don’t have that kind of feeling for what it is you’re doing, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.”
In this first of a three-part series on “Finding a Reason to Recover”, we will look at the power inherent in reasons. But what is a “reason”? The most commonly accepted definition is that a reason is “the basis or motive for an action, decision, or conviction.”
So this basis or reason is where we start our journey. We start here because where we start is also what motivates us for every step we take after the first one. Once we understand this, it is easy to understand how where we start is often the greatest predictor for where we end up.
The good news is that our reasons can change over time, and when our reasons change, our prognosis and the outcome of our journey changes with it.
Using Star Wars giant George Lucas’ quote as a guide, let’s look at how reasons and, as Mr. Lucas says, “find[ing] something you love”, interact. The interesting thing about this dynamic duo is that, in the intersection of our motivation and emotion, there we also find CHOICE. This is what Mr. Lucas is referring to when he says that you have to find something that you love enough to take risks – risks to promote, protect, and preserve what you love, and risks to say no to what stands between you and the fulfillment and continued protection of that love.
Recently model Kate Moss was asked what her motto for life is. She replied, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. This shocked the world, not just because Moss appears to be advocating for pro-eating disorder culture, but primarily because Kate Moss is a mother herself to a seven-year-old daughter.
This is what happens when we are not willing to acknowledge that all of life comes down to a series of choices, and that two opposing choices cannot continue to indefinitely occupy the same space. For instance, what is the prognosis for Moss to maintain her current stance in the future if her impressionable young daughter takes Mommy’s words to heart?
In other words, how will Moss’ reasons change when they begin to affect her own daughter?
For that matter, how will your own reasons change when you realize that, whether you currently believe you are worth recovering for – can recover – can even see the point of recovering – that you will never have the chance to find out if you don’t act NOW to save your own life?
So this is where we start. When interviewed, fully ninety percent of those who attempted suicide by leaping off of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and survived told their interviewer that they realized on the way down that the problems they were killing themselves to escape were really quite solvable.
The same goes for you. And for us all. Life hands us problems – that is part of what life does. How we respond, however, is up to us. We can choose to respond with hopelessness or with positive action, and our outcomes will differ accordingly. Your eating disorder is but one of many ways in which, in the past and possibly still in the present, you have chosen to respond to the stresses and unknowns of life. Maybe you believed – still believe – that the eating disorder was the only way that you could adequately cope with your daily life.
But there are other ways that you can learn for responding and managing life’s uncertainties, and they are available to you if you want to learn them. However, you can’t learn them until you know what function and role the eating disorder serves in your life. It is helpful in this process of assessing your reasons, motivations, and choices to make a list of all the things that you believe your eating disorder provides to you. For instance, maybe your eating disorder provides you with a sense of protection, with a simple system to make sense of life’s complexities, with clear-cut daily goals….just make your list, and continue adding to it as new ideas arise.
Next, it is time to look at the cost of life with an eating disorder. What has the eating disorder prevented you from experiencing, seeing, or doing? Who would you be close to if the eating disorder did not consume so much of your attention and time? Who else that is important to you is being affected by your eating disordered thoughts and behaviors in a way that makes you worry for their wellbeing even if you feel disconnected from worry or concern for your own?
You will always be able to find reasons to stay sick. And, if you look for them, you will always be able to find reasons to get better. Your recovery prognosis really comes down to one simple act – which set of reasons will you choose to follow?
At Southlake Counseling, we understand firsthand the devastating effect than an eating disorder can have both on your life and on the lives of those who love you. We are pioneers in providing state-of-the-art, clinically-proven treatments for eating disorders in the Lake Norman area because we believe that every person has the right and ability to say “no” to the slow death of an eating disorder and YES to their own unique and precious life. If you or someone you love is struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder, please contact us today at www.southlakecounseling.com. We look forward to your call, email, or visit very soon!