Moments like these are what make recovery so challenging. It can be confusing and downright disheartening when your actions are not inline with your intentions. I operated in this zone for many long years. As I mentioned in the journal excerpt above, I felt like I was fighting myself.
In order to prevent these internal battles from playing out, I equipped myself with coping skills to use in the moment that an urge to act on an eating disorder behavior struck. Many of which you can find in the Rise Up + Recover app. There was one strategy that I found to be particularly powerful and effective that I could do anywhere anytime.
When an urge to act on a behavior arose I would ask myself “Do I want to be “doing X” in 10 years from now?”
In my case “doing X” would substitute for bingeing, purging, restricting, compulsively shopping, smoking, drinking excessively, and lying. You can tell I had a few things to work on in recovery 😉
- If the answer was yes, than I would proceed with no guilt or shame.
- If the answer was no, I would reflect on why. I would envision the future and ask the following questions:
What would my life be like if was still still “doing X”?
What impact would it have on my health, relationships, spirituality, finances, appearance, career, etc.?
Why do I want to “do X” now?
I can’t recommend this strategy enough. It really helps you to take a step back and see your bigger life picture. The decisions you make today have an impact on your future and you are the one who is in control of how that will play out. It helped me shift my mindset from fighting myself to helping myself.
If you are someone who has a hard time using your imagination, you may be a little uncomfortable with the idea of envisioning your future. Try and keep an open-mind. Tapping into your imagination is like using a muscle, the more you practice the stronger it will get. I found the best way for me to get into the zone was to do a guided meditation.
I will also be completely honest and say that this strategy did not have a 100% success rate for me. I would sometimes act on an urge regardless of knowing that it was not what I wanted to be doing 10 years from now. The fact that I even thought about how this was impacting my future self helped though. If you try this strategy and still act on the urge the most important thing is to have compassion for yourself. Understand that at that moment you did your best. Learn from the experience and do not dwell in the past. Move forward knowing that you will have another opportunity in the future to align your actions with your intentions.
So what do you think? Do you think this strategy could be helpful the next time an urge strikes?