Coping Skill #47. Listening to and Obeying Support People

Mario and Anna Rose on the phone

On the phone with Mario copying me

Throughout treatment, people have told me to differentiate between my healthy voice and ED or the eating disorder’s voice. Separating the two helps you grow in strength and confidence. Yes, my thoughts may be screaming not to eat all day, but my body and true self really want to care for myself.

However, there are times when the voices in your head and urges to use unhealthy behaviors are just too loud. That is the point I was at for the past few days. In times like this, knowing how to act and finding the energy to do it seems impossible. Just breathing and staying alive is all you can manage.

During times like this, I  need to use the coping skill of listening to others and obeying them. Because I cannot rely on my own judgement, turning to my mother or trusted friends becomes the next best option. When my thoughts pressure self-hate, support people encourage self-compassion.

Allowing someone to tell you what to do is terrifying. Often, people discourage this. Blind obedience and never saying “No” is a problem. Yet, if you use discernment, following the directions of others is a great skill to have. Combine this with creative thinking and confidence in your own decisions, and you will have the best of both worlds. People often take obedience to the extremes; either they refuse to listen to anyone or agree with whatever the crowd chooses. Finding a balance is key as it is in so many other areas of life.

Thus, choosing support people to turn to that you trust is important. Once you find them and need their help, try to be explicit when you explain what you need. Do you want them to help you choose what to eat or would that only fuel your eating disorder? When they ask if you feel suicidal, does that make you feel loved or smothered? Is it helpful if they refuse to let you have sharp objects or are you able to keep yourself safe? Support people usually want to help but cannot do so to the best of their abilities unless you state how they can best do so.

Another important point to remember is that you are still in control of your recovery. Just because someone tells you to act in a healthy way does not mean they are forcing you. In the end, the choice is still yours. My mother and I have struggled with this a bit. For many months, I ate only for her. This works for a while, but soon resentment and lying begins to edge into relationships. Instead, my motivation needed to be internal. Recovery is nearly impossible if you do not want it at least a little bit for yourself.

So, I am going to continue using this skill until I feel a little less shaky on my feet. Doing it is embarrassing and annoying, but the best choice for right now. Obeying the truth others speak is not weakness but a great strength.

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9 thoughts on “Coping Skill #47. Listening to and Obeying Support People

  1. You are one the most self-aware folks ever! I am sure that this blog makes a huge difference to those who have ED and those who support them. Keep up the sharing. ❤
    Diana xo

  2. LindaGHill says:

    I know for myself that sometimes accepting help takes much more courage than being independent. There has to be a balance – and in that, knowing what you really need is so important.
    Very thought-provoking post. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  3. quirkybooks says:

    This is an awesome post. I think you are both a very brave and wise person. You know when to ask for help and take it. Good for you, for having the strength and courage to do what is right for you.

  4. I also think it is a good idea to talk to your chosen support people BEFORE you actually need help… when you are feeling clear-headed. In my experience, when I am “spiraling”, I find it really hard to communicate, or even understand, what would help me. Some people even put together a packet with information about what they most need, with everything from what you need the most help with, to what hospital you’d choose to go to and who will watch your children or pets if you are really in crisis.

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