When a person is sick with an eating disorder, they have to learn to change their mindset.  These 4 ways to adapt your thinking are key to making the most of recovery.

This article is adapted from the original blog.

“Let Go Or Be Dragged”
So often we feel tethered to our past, as if there are ropes around our limbs and we are being taken for a ride without our permission, dragged from the back of a figurative vehicle.  It can be anger at someone who hurt us or fear of leaving a relationship that deep down we know is unhealthy.   It can be a long-held belief that once an urge to use an eating disorder behavior strikes, there is no turning back.

We hold onto these things for inordinate amounts of time, not stopping to reframe them and realizing we can let go and stop the ride.  We can find a way to make peace with the anger we have at the friend who hurt us and let go of it.  We can learn to let go of someone who is not good for us, even if it’s painful.  We can stop going along for the ride every time an urge strikes.  We can challenge ourselves to ask if we are truly tied to something or if we can slip out of the bonds and stop being dragged on a ride that ultimately leads nowhere.

“Do Not Put Fear On A Pedestal”
One of the most surefire ways to impact a decision on whether or not to take a step forward is to let fear be the deciding factor. When we do this, we are placing fear on a pedestal.  It is shown the highest regard and factors heavily into how we think and react.  When we give fear a royal role in decisions about moving forward, we cripple ourselves.  We’re much less likely to make real changes if every step is clouded over with the fear of it being too scary to do.  Ask yourself what you would do if fear were not a part of the equation.  Would you bring up a tough subject in therapy?  Would you change up your meal plan?  Would you take a risk in your job or at school?  Learn to knock fear off that pedestal and put it in its place.

“Trust Is About Yourself”
While it’s important to use what you know about someone else in order to know if you should trust them, sometimes trust is actually more about you.  Sometimes we hold ourselves back from something like entering into a romantic relationship or taking the first step towards a long-held dream.  We fear that we have no guarantee that the person will act as we want them to or that the situation will turn out the way we envision it, and this lack of trust stops us.  Instead of fretting about the inability to guarantee the way things turn out, switch the focus to a trust that you can handle however things go.

You can learn to develop and nurture that skill, and to fall back on it when fear raises its head again.  You can go into a relationship or take those steps toward your goal, knowing that as things happen along the way, you can handle them all.  You can trust yourself to stop, assess things, listen to your intellect and your gut, and make good decisions. You can feel secure in knowing it’s ok not to always know the outcome of things before you start them.  The more you trust yourself to handle whatever happens, the more open and beautiful the journey will be.

“Acknowledge Gratitude”
Keeping a gratitude journal, whether it’s one you write out or simply something you make mental notes of at the end of the day, can change your outlook drastically.  The idea of having more gratitude is often mistaken for meaning to just suck it up and appreciate what you have, or to put on a Pollyanna smile and not admit to being affected by the negatives that happen in our lives.  Gratitude is more about making sure we don’t discount the better moments of the day, especially if they are outnumbered by worse moments.

It can be eye-opening to reflect at the end of your day and see what things made you smile, no matter how small.  Maybe a new flower is budding in your window box, you had a great phone call with an old friend, or your normally aloof cat let you snuggle her.  Those are gratitude journal worthy moments.  You can also note things you accomplished, even if they were difficult to do.  You might write “I am grateful I had the energy to tackle cleaning out the hall closet” or express gratitude for the box of old photos you found when you were doing it.  Look for moments to see an activity or a conversation or a moment in time as positive and you will find your whole perspective on life changes.