The First Step to Self-Care
Contributed Article By Michelle Morand, MA, Director and Founder of The CEDRIC Centre
Once you start down Self-Care Lane you won’t be needing or wanting to return. Say goodbye to your old patterns of behaviour and start self-help for eating disorders. Say goodbye to harmful old relationships, places of work, and miscellaneous other people, places and things that undermine you and your sense of peace and happiness.
Put one foot, gently but firmly, in front of the other to create a life that is balanced, peaceful, and honoring who you really are and what you truly deserve in life.
Start by taking a few minutes to get clear on where you are now. Then we’ll take a look at where you’d like to be and fill in the spaces between step-by-step so you’ve got a clear path that leads you towards lasting change at a pace that is right for you. So, step 1. You can use your computer or a piece of paper/notebook/journal/toilet paper…anything will do, just get started!
- Make a list of the key roles you have in your life right now. What are the areas that require your attention or that you’d like to be able to give your attention to on a regular basis? My list looks something like this: Mother; Daughter; Partner; Counselor; Author; Friend/Family member; Musician; Individual; Volunteer; Community Member.
- Now for each of those key roles that you want to make space for each week/month, make a list of things you currently actually do regularly in those areas towards the maintenance of health in that area or that relationship. What do you do for your relationship as a parent, family member, friend, individual etc. daily, weekly, monthly to maintain those relationships and honor your values as best you can right now?
- Now make a list, for each key role, of what you’d ideally like to see yourself doing each day, week, month, year in order to feel that you were really living your life as you’d like to. What would you be doing in each of those roles if you were genuinely at peace and honoring your values in each of those areas?
- Now look again at the list of what you’re really doing day to day/week-to-week and compare that to what you’d like to see yourself doing if you were living your life to the fullest and genuinely proud of your life in all areas. There will likely be at least one point in each role (if not a few) that needs some attention in order for you to feel like you’re doing your best for yourself and the people in your life.
- These are your goals. Whether you knew it consciously before this moment or not, these are the goals you have in the different areas of your life that, until fulfilled (or let go) will prevent you from feeling truly peaceful. This is because whenever we have a goal or a belief in our heads that we need to be doing something differently or experiencing something other than what we are experiencing, we feel anxious; unsettled. I call it the Permeating Level of Anxiety (or P.L.A.). We feel like something’s wrong and we just can’t relax. It’s like we’re on guard for something bad to happen or to suddenly remember something important that we forgot. This sensation of P.L.A. makes us focus on food and body image if we aren’t aware of what’s really triggering it: A lack of integrity from our unmet goals or lack of follow-through on honoring our values. Getting clear on what you are telling yourself you should be doing differently (in the form of your ultimate goals versus your present day reality) is really the key step in beginning to replace your P.L.A. with peace and your use of food to cope with fulfilling, life-enhancing behaviours. So, now that you know how important it is to your overall recovery process, take a few minutes to pull out each goal from each role and clearly articulate it in the present positive.
**If you notice that in your role as friend, you don’t make much effort to call and stay in touch with people you genuinely like and enjoy time with. Right now, you might be calling them maybe once every other month, but your ultimate goal may be to see yourself making the space to call friends two times a week for half an hour each time (your goal may be more or less often and longer or shorter periods of time, really listen to what you feel is right). You would articulate your overall goal this way: I consistently and happily make space in my life to connect with my friends twice a week for half an hour.
**If you notice in your role as an individual, you would like to see yourself ideally exercising four times a week, and currently, you’re lucky if you go once, your goal statement would look like this perhaps: I consistently and happily exercise my body for half an hour or more four times a week in a variety of fun and enjoyable ways.
Initially, your task is to clarify where you are now; what your ultimate goals are in each key role in your life, and state them clearly in the positive present (as in the examples above).
Next you’re going to take your list of goals and your increased conscious awareness of where you are now in relationship to those goals and identify three steps that you will take to get from here to there. Take that ultimate goal and break it down into realistic, doable steps so that you can see very clearly how you’ll achieve your goal and when. After that start putting together a gentle schedule so that you can begin to see clearly where your time currently goes and how to begin to fit those pieces that are important to you into your already full life in a way that feels like it creates more space rather than asks more of an already-maxed-out you. This can be an important component of treating an eating disorder.
By Michelle Morand, Founder and Director of The CEDRIC Centre
Published Date: May 11, 2011
Last reviewed: By Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 7, 2016
Page last updated: June 7, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com, Online Eating Disorders Help