Stop Saying “I Can’t” in Eating Disorder Recovery
By Z Zoccolante
(This article first appeared on HealthyPlace.com)
Stop saying “I can’t” when it comes to eating disorder recovery. “I can’t” is a phrase uttered out loud or in the secret caverns of our minds. I can’t recover. I can’t eat that. I can’t stop exercising. I can’t stop throwing up. I can’t keep food down. I can’t love myself in the mirror. I can’t love the part of my body that I despise. I can’t be kind to myself. Eating disorders are filled with the words “I can’t,” but there’s one ultimate reason to stop saying “I can’t” for the sake of your eating disorder recovery (Why We Believe Eating Disorder Lies).
Stop Saying “I Can’t” to Identify Your Fears
Apathy is the belief that we can’t. It tells us that we are trapped in our situation and that we are helpless to do anything about it, and there is no one who can help us. On an energetic level apathy is very low on the scale, meaning that the energy vibration of apathy has less abundance, power, love, and a decrease in physical health.
Within the throes of an eating disorder, apathy is common. We often feel hopeless and immobilized, that no one cares about us, or that no one may even care if we die. Maybe we’ve even thought that dying would be easier. We may feel useless, lost, meaningless, and a failure.
The thing about apathy is that even though it says, “I can’t,” what it actually means is “I won’t”. Humans are capable and resilient so most times when we say, “I can’t” we are using the words to cover up a fear.
“I Can’t Eat That Pasta” Hides a Fear
Let’s look at a common statement – “I can’t eat that pasta”. If we dig underneath that statement, one possible fear could tell us, “If I eat that pasta I’ll get fat.” It’s not that we can’t eat it, per se, but rather we are terrified of the ginormous fat glob we think we will become by eating the bowl of noodles.
Stop Saying “I Can’t” to Deal with Your Fears
That simple process above which named “I can’t” and then dug to identify the fear underneath it has already shifted the energy vibration from apathy to fear. This is a good thing because fear is higher on the energy scale, which means that our energy can keep moving up. When we can identify the fear, it can motivate us into action in our recovery.
The way this worked for me was to ask myself, “Is this true? It is true that if I eat this bowl of noodles I’ll become a bloblet? What proof do I have of this?” Already I’d shifted out of apathy and had begun to get curious about my thoughts and beliefs around food and my body.
Stop Saying “I Can’t” — You Don’t Need Those Fears Anymore
The important thing to remember is that fear serves a purpose. It’s been there to protect us from something at some point in our lives. In eating disorder recovery the fear will tell us that we can’t recover, that we shouldn’t even try, that we’re not worth it, that we’re just going to fail in the end so why bother. Fear tells us that we are failures, but fear lies.
When we question fear it often doesn’t have a response. It throws us the same arguments, “Because you’ll get fat.” It’s not very creative but instead recycles the same garbage it’s told us since the disorder started.
“I Can’t Recover” Means that We Fear Recovery
“I can’t” recover is a belief based on the fear of recovery. Most people who begin recovery don’t think that they can recover, at first. This is a normal place to be. Keep moving forward, taking the steps even when you don’t want to, even when you’re eating disorder is screaming you can’t, even when you are afraid. At some point, the scales will tip and you will go from thinking you can’t recover, to thinking maybe it might be possible, to thinking that you can (no matter how long it takes).
The reason to remove the word “I can’t” from your eating disorder recovery is simple. “I can’t” is based on fear. Recovery is based on courage and the belief that you can recover in your time, with consistent steps in that direction. And you can.