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Are damaging negative thoughts getting in the way of your recovery?

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Today I’m going to tell you about the healing power of affirmations for eating disorders recovery and healing from lifelong body hatred.
 
I know you’ve probably heard a lot in the media about using affirmations, and you may think it’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo.  
 
But I’m not talking about some new age hype, here.  I’m talking about the role your recurring negative thoughts play in keeping your eating disorder around.
 
In fact, psychologists have been researching the extremely harmful effects that negative thoughts and beliefs have on a person’s mental and physical health for years – way before the New Agers!
 
Do you know that we think 95% of the SAME thoughts every day?
 
Really think for a minute about that!  This means that if you are letting negative thoughts and beliefs about your body, food and ability to fully recover dominate your mind, you could repeat these messages every day for 95% of your life!!!
 
Now I’m not saying the reciting a bunch of affirmations every day is going to be the magic solution to recovery; however, if you don’t work on changing your negative beliefs and substituting positive ones, you will for sure remain stuck in your anorexia, bulimia, emotional eating, or body dysmorphia.
 
I’d like to show you the correct way to use affirmations that will help you to take any negative beliefs you have about food and your body, and kick them to the curb!  But first, we have to identify what your negative beliefs are.
 
This work may be painful, but you have to pay attention to how you talk to yourself before you can become your own best cheerleader… because that’s what you have to do to get better.
 
The good news is that once you realize what your negative thoughts are, and start talking back to them, it becomes automatic, and before you know it, that 95% becomes positive and life affirming.
 
Let's get started :) 
 
The first step is to PAY ATTENTION to the way you talk to yourself when you…
 
1. Eat
2. Look in the mirror
3. Are in public
4. Are alone
 
taking notes
 
Write down the messages you tell yourself every day, maybe without even realizing it.
 
Finally, ask yourself: “Would I talk to a child, my best friend, or someone else I love the way I talk to myself?”… If the answer is NO, then why do you deserve that kind of treatment?
 
This can be an eye-opener, but it’s essential in order to make a powerful change.
 
Now I know from working for almost twenty years with people suffering from eating disorders that they tend to be primarily people pleasers and givers.  These are lovely qualities, in moderation, but when you’re always putting other people’s feelings and needs ahead of yours, you won’t make the time to take care of you.
 
And making it a priority to do positive affirmations every day to challenge and change your negative beliefs is essential to achieve quick and permanent recovery.
 
Yes, I said EVERY DAY.
 
I know that we all have lots of responsibilities to take care of every day, especially when we’ve learned to take care of others before ourselves.  These responsibilities include:
 
• putting food on the table
• paying the mortgage/rent
• taking care of our children
• doing our own class work/ working to support ourselves and our families
 
When you're busy with these monumental everyday tasks, it's really easy to skip doing the things that will give you the longer term payoffs. 
 
Positive affirmations and self-talk aren't urgent or pressing, and it can be difficult to truly believe in their transformative power, so you may be more likely to put them by the wayside.
 
I know that you are busy. I also know that the only way you are going to fully recover is if you start to shift your mindset. 
 
Starting TODAY.
 
Do you know that it takes an average of 30 days of consciously changing a habit in order to make it stick?  And most people “give up” much sooner than that!
Task for today:
1. Get out your list of the statements you use to “talk to yourself” during the course of the day.
2. If there are positive statements (and I hope there are!), number them on a new list, but make sure they are written in the present tense. (i.e. “I did a great job today, should become “I do a great job today”).
3. If there are negative statements (and I hope there aren’t, but usually there are), add them to the list, but first create its positive twin, and state it in the present tense (i.e. “I hated my body today”, should become “I love my body today!)
 
two people looking in a mirror
 
Sometimes my clients have trouble creating this list, so it’s OK if you do, too.  There are several reasons why you may have a “block” in being able to create a positive affirmation list:
 
1) You still don’t fully believe that affirmations, repeated every day, can lead to powerful life transformations.
2) Your negative thoughts, or what some therapists call “limiting beliefs”, are still keeping you from being able to cheer yourself on.
3) You let “people pleasing” and pressing every day events come before setting aside quality time for yourself.
 
If one or more of these reasons got in the way of creating and using affirmations, don’t be too hard on yourself.  These are all powerful forces that have kept your eating disorder active for weeks, months or even years.  And you may have had a lifetime of repeating negative thoughts to yourself over and over again, for 95% of each and every day.
 
That’s why it’s so important to have people in your life that help you to challenge these blocks and encourage you not to give up – and remember, right now I’m your number one fan.  I know that people can fully recover from eating disorders; I’ve seen it over and over again.  You have the same wonderful potential to get better quickly as all of the unique and special individuals I’ve helped over the years.
 
A change in mindset from negative to positive will not only be one of the most powerful tools to overcome your eating disorder, but will actually help you excel in all other areas of your life.
 
This is an added incentive to go back and create that affirmation list if you haven’t already. 
 
Because you can complete that exercise to help with any area of your life in which you feel stuck, and use it to propel forward and achieve your goals.
 
For example, what if you are feeling hopeless that you’ll ever meet that “special someone”.  What if you’ve had horrible relationship experiences in the past that have just confirmed your negative beliefs about relationships?  Maybe some of these negative beliefs include:
 
• I don’t deserve to be loved.
• Anyone I’m romantically involved with will ultimately betray me or let me down.
• There aren’t enough quality, available men (or women!) out there for me.
 
These negative beliefs swirl around and around in your head, 95% of every day, day after day.  

Do you think those messages encourage you to get out there and take risks to meet someone?  Do you think they help you to recognize potential mates that possess the qualities you seek? 

Not if you believe these people don’t even exist!!!

Just like with your eating disorder, changing your underlying negative beliefs about love and relationships creates fertile ground for you to find a mate who will adore you.

If you can complete this list for one area of your life, it will become easier to build one for the next area, and the next, and the next, until… your overall mindset about yourself, your life, and your potential becomes hopeful and positive.
 
Here is how to use your affirmation list to the best effect:
1) If you did not create your affirmation list, shake it off and try again!  If you need help, ask a trusted family member, friend or your therapist to make the list with you.
2) If you did create the list (hooray!), then place it right by your bed and make sure you recite it EVERY MORNING when you get up.  It should be the first thing you do each day.  If you forget to recite it one day, do it as soon as you remember.  Note how and if it changes the way you face the day and feel about yourself.  If more negative thoughts arise, write them down and then rewrite its positive twin in the present tense, and add it to the list.
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If you still need help, my positive body image texting program, Text2bWell.com is an inexpensive, but powerful way to receive weekly coaching through your smart phone on how to turn negative thoughts around.  It’s completely confidential, you can use it on your own time, and you have access to a private forum where you can interact with others working on the same goals, plus receive personal coaching from me!  
 
 
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