By Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C
What if you viewed behaviors such as restricting, bingeing, purging, cutting, and/or using, as resilient attempts to try to regulate emotions, for some to cope with past trauma-as well as a way that you might be trying to communicate deeper messages.
Of course, these behaviors may seem helpful in the short-term, but in the long term they do not actually solve the underlying problems, make you dependent on them, and often make you feel increasingly anxious and unhappy.
However, when you shame yourself for struggling you typically only make things worse.
What if instead, you practiced applying compassion and a mindful curiosity to the behaviors that you are struggling with?
You are not ‘crazy,’ or broken, or screwed up, rather you are in pain and trying desperately to cope.
I created the acronym ASPIRE as one skill that you can use when you have urges to engage in restricting, bingeing, purging, self-harming, and/or using.
It’s important to practice using this skill when you are not feeling triggered, so that it is easier to access in those moments. Just like learning how to ride a bike or play an instrument, it will take practice in order for this skill to start to feel more natural and eventually even automatic.
Also, it’s important to note that even if you engage in a behavior after-the ‘win’ can simply be creating space (i.e. pausing) and using this skill beforehand.
Telling yourself that you are going to do this skill in place of the behavior will likely be a set-up. So, start by telling yourself that you will practice using this skill before using the behavior.
1. Alternate ways to communicate
3. Practice self-compassion.
4. Invite curiosity.
5. Respond effectively.
6. Enlist support.
1. Make a list of the behaviors that you are currently struggling with and next to each one write the functions or ‘what it does for you.’
2. Get curious about what the messages behind these behaviors might be-what do you think that you may be trying to communicate (to yourself and/or to others). Reflect on the details of your behaviors to see if you can find any meaning there (ie location that you are self-harming, foods you eating during a binge and ask yourself is physical or emotional restriction of those foods happening etc).
4. Next to each function, list at least one other more values-congruent way that you might be able to get that need met (if it’s not a self destructive desire).
5. Share this assignment with a therapist (if you are looking for support virtually or in Maryland fill out the contact form to schedule a free 20 min consult with a member of my team).
You can get your life back and you don't have to continue to feel so trapped.
Ultimately, you can find more life-affirming ways to get your needs met, gradually putting your eating disorder (or addiction, self harm, etc) out of a job.
Struggling with constant thoughts about food and your body is exhausting.
We can help.
Book your free 15 minute consult.
The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We also offer therapy for obsessive compulsive disorder. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.