For the past month I have been participating in an ACT therapy group, which stands for Acceptance Commitment Therapy. This particular group is geared towards helping those who suffer from eating disorders by teaching means of acceptance coping, how to be more flexible, and also how to address and think about uncomfortable feelings in new ways. In the group we are trying to create new relationships with our negative thoughts and feelings.
One specific concept that we focus on learning to accept is how living in our eating disorder has a constant, and completely negative, affect on every aspect of our lives. When we are not fighting our ED it becomes our everything, our whole life, and it is as if we are trying to stand amidst 90 mile an hour winds. We are in a battle just to remain upright during these extreme and all consuming emotions, but it is important to know that they will eventually pass, and we will become stronger once we are able to deal with them, as well as recognize them. This is not easy, and a daily, even minute to minute, battle, that takes a lot of effort, but it is beyond necessary to tolerate the negative stuff in order to get what we want, recovery. It doesn’t mean that we want these thoughts, but that we are willing to accept them and deal with them in order to get better. Once we learn to accept our thoughts, even when we feel like we are fighting to stand in 90 mile an hour winds, we will be better suited to move forward and deal with them in constructive ways. Fighting them and pushing them away will not work, they will come back and probably be even stronger. “The importance of living a life we value is why we need to be willing to sit with our feelings. If we use ED/other strategies to avoid our thoughts and feelings, it will continue to hold us back from living a life we value.”
So even though I feel like I am standing in the middle of a tornado, consumed by negative feelings and thoughts, if I can garner the strength to sit with them, accept them, and see them in a new way, the storm will pass and my life will be better and more fulfilling. This is a hard thing to practice, but the outcome is definitely worthwhile and will be life changing.