** Originally written for and published by Recovery Warriors **
Eating disorder recovery is hard.
Really, really hard.
There are days that make you feel empowered and fearless and totally in control… and then there are days where you feel like giving up. Days where nothing seems to work, days where you doubt yourself and days where you feel the voice of your ED shouting in your mind louder than ever before.
In those moments, you need to find the strength to keep choosing recovery.
And that’s one of the hardest parts about recovery – continuing to choose it, even when it feels totally hopeless or it doesn’t feel right.
In my own recovery from anorexia, I first heard about affirmations as a powerful tool to aid in developing a positive mindset – I practiced them religiously on my hardest days, and I continue to practice them to this day.
If you’re not familiar with affirmations, they’re short statements that you can repeat to yourself, with the aim of changing your unconscious beliefs. Affirmations are simple to use, but can have a profound impact on your wellbeing. They’re short and powerful statements that enable you to shape the reality in which you live by directing your conscious thoughts towards a particular mindset. And to understand why affirmations are important, we need to understand why thoughts are important.
Take a look at my quick guide on getting started with affirmations here.
At first, affirmations can feel a little strange.
It can be difficult to know what to expect to feel, but the trick is not to expect anything at all. Saying an affirmation once won’t instantly silence the voice of your ED, nor will it magically transform you to fully recovered, or prevent those negative thoughts from ever creeping in again.
They’re not a magic pill and they don’t work miracles, but if you use them in combination with your other recovery strategies, they can be immensely helpful on those days that you’re struggling to find your strength.
Below are 30 affirmations to help you during your recovery – use them when you feel down, when you’re struggling or when you want to build yourself up. Pick a few that you like, and repeat them to yourself several times each day.
- I am not a burden when I ask for support.
- My body deserves my love.
- My body needs me to nourish it so that I can live a happy life.
- It’s okay for me to love myself!
- I am enough, just the way that I am.
- I respect my body, and I’m going to give it the nourishment that it needs from me.
- My body is my home, and I’m going to take care of it.
- Food is not the enemy. It is nurturing and healing.
- The voice of my ED does not represent how I feel about myself.
- I will not listen to the negative thoughts. I CAN beat this.
- I am strong, fierce and brave.
- I have everything that I need to take care of myself inside of me.
- A goal weight is an irrelevant number, and doesn’t speak of my health.
- I do not compare myself to others. We are all unique.
- I am my own best friend, and I’ll be the best friend that I can be to myself.
- It’s okay for me to feel down sometimes. This doesn’t mean that I can’t get back up.
- I am worthy of love from myself and from others.
- It’s up to me to define my own beauty.
- Relapses and negative thoughts are just minor setbacks, not failures.
- I eat for energy and nourishment.
- I want to be a positive and happy person.
- My body gives me so much, and keeps me alive.
- Balance is important, and I will respect my body by giving it balance.
- My health is an investment in my life.
- I feel amazing when I’m happy and healthy.
- I deserve not to obsess about food and weight.
- My worth comes from inside of me, and I am inherently worthy.
- I am not afraid of making mistakes.
- I will not punish myself for making mistakes or feeling down.
- I am learning and growing and loving myself more, every single day.
Did any of the above affirmations stand out to you?
If you find an affirmation that really resonates with you, it’s helpful to let yourself hear, see and feel them at the same time. You can say them however you like – write them on a sticky note that you put on your mirror, say them to yourself in the shower or even sing them out loud in the car. You can even come up with your own!
Step 1 is to identify when you’re having a negative or toxic thought. It can seem tricky at first, but the trick to spotting your negative thoughts is all in the language they use. Negative thoughts will follow patterns such as “I can’t” or “I don’t” and will leave you with emotions of doubt, fear, insecurity, sadness or anger. When you first start trying to do this, you’ll catch yourself immediately after you’ve had the thought – but as you get better and better, you’ll learn to stop them in their tracks.
Instead of completing the thought, all you need to to is try to pause, acknowledge that you’re having a negative thought and then not allow yourself to finish it. This process is aptly known as ‘thought stopping’.
Step 2, once you start getting good at stopping the negative thoughts and cognitive distortions is to replace them with positive thoughts. Some of the positive thoughts or affirmations might feel a little awkward to use, but that’s okay. Just run with them!
Using an affirmation simply involves breathing slowly and repeating a statement to yourself (either in your head or out loud, whatever you feel comfortable with). You can repeat it to yourself a few times or you can say it just once.
As you continue to use your affirmations, you’ll start to change your emotions and mood; clearing out the negativity and paving the way for new behavioural patterns.
The important thing is that you positively empower yourself every day as part of your recovery journey.
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Recovery is a choice and it’s not always pretty but the more you choose to keep recovering, the stronger you get.