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How to "get through day 1" of recovery

Posted Jan 22 2009 4:32pm

I get SOO many emails asking me how to just.get.through the first day in recovery. Bulimia is a symptom - arguably the most obvious and most distressing symptom, but it's still just a symptom of what I believe is at the root of it all: negative, fearful, all-or-nothing, and judgmental thinking, interpretation of the world around you, and your choice of reaction.

Trying to control the symptom won't cure you of your problem.

Recovery is about learning how to THINK and SEE THE WORLD in a hopeful, optimistic, and creative way where you can easily identify many alternatives for interpretation and response. You have to learn how to do this, and then you have to be hyper-aware of your thoughts and work with them 24/7.

Recovery is NOT about not binging or purging. So, on your first day you might do it 3 times! Recovery is working on your thinking, and as you get good at that, the bulimia (along with MANY or ALL of your other symptoms) will begin to just fade away. You shouldn't even THINK about not binging/purging, because I promise you that will cause you to run screaming to the kitchen every time. And, you know this.

On your first day (and every day) of "recovery," this is what you need to focus on accomplishing:

  1. Being hyper aware of when you are thinking or interpreting in a negative, fearful or judgmental way (or when your thoughts get manic because you can't decide what to think, how to interpret, or how to react). You may even do this persistently . . . I sure did.
  2. Gently say to yourself something like this, "AHH, this is why bulimia is so appealing to me - it stops these awful maddening thoughts at least for a little while. I have to learn how to think in a positive, optimistic, hopeful way, and I won't ever even have the urge to turn to food for comfort. I won't need comforting."
  3. Understand that you have 4 main points where you can turn this thing around before bulimia becomes your immediate requirement:

  4. Slowly, gently separate yourself from your thoughts and think about your first automatic reaction. Are you just automatically assuming the very worst? Are you worrying about what others will think instead of what's best for your wellbeing? Are you stuck in all or nothing world where there is only one option? Are you arguing with yourself about what to do? Are you just assuming that you're going to make a mess of things? Are you too scared to deal with the situation?
  5. Work on your thinking:

    **Actually, another important addition to this list is to practice GRATITUDE. I recommend you forcibly take a moment in the middle of any mental chaos to just say thank you for something. Pick one blessing (even if it is just the simple but most important blessing of your health) and just say thanks to the universe. Really feel how lucky you are - for just a moment. And, then get back to the situation at hand.**

If you can spend your "day 1" even just doing steps 1 & 2 above (and practicing gratitude!) consistently in a hyper aware & conscious way, that's a GREAT first day! Maybe the next day you can work through all the steps, particularly thinking about at least 2 more positive or optimistic ways to interpret every situation.

You won't stop the purging until you can stop yourself from allowing your thoughts to turn into ugly negative chaos. The problem is in your head. You fix your thoughts, and the bulimia will slowly fade away.

I got a wonderful note from a very good old friend of this blog. She said I could share her words with you. She wrote:

Good Morning Michelle,
Happy new year to you! I wanted to say hi and to tell you your approach  has really changed my life... after reading your guide and As A Man Thinketh, I realized how much our thoughts control our lives... Now, every morning I get rid of my guilt and my fear and think positively all day long and this has literally changed my life... I am soo happy now.. Thank you so much for being there for so many of us, your work is truly admirable. Needless to say, my MIA symptoms have decreased dramatically but I do know I still have some work to do.
Feel free to post my message in the blog if  you think it will give other people hope.

As A Man Thinketh is available as a free download from the blog on the right hand panel. GET IT! READ IT!

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