At some point in your life, you probably heard the famous line spoken by Thomas Edison; “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This was, of course, referring to his attempt at creating the very first lightbulb. As you hopefully know by now (if you look around and have lights around you), he ultimately succeeded.
What does this have anything to do with Eating Disorders? Good question! I don’t believe that failure exists in the recovery from Eating Disorders. Perhaps, you set out to do something in favor of your recovery and find yourself unable to complete the task. You have not failed, you just encountered a learning opportunity. This can apply to any area of your life. We all have had misfortunes in our lives and can look back and identify mistakes in our past that we would like to correct. However, if you didn’t make those mistakes, you would never be who you are today. Those mistakes, even though they may have stunk, they made you grow as a person.
I typically assign “homework” to my clients to do in between sessions. Sometimes, they come in the following week and shamefully tell me they were unable to do it or that they didn’t even try to do it. Right off the bat, I emphasize that their honesty in that is appreciated, and that they never ever need to feel shame or guilt for not being able to “achieve” the goal. Instead of beating yourself up about it, ask yourself what got in your way of being able to do the task? Was it a feeling or a situation? Was the goal that was set achievable?
You can imagine that all the answers to all these questions offer us learning opportunities. You may find that it was a rough week which made it difficult to complete the task. Or maybe you found that the goal was just too much to do in just 1 week’s time. What can we learn about this? You may learn that some weeks or days are harder than others and that you need to learn forgiveness for yourself and acceptance. Or maybe you learned that the goal was too big. No shame in that! I always say how much I LOVE baby steps! Baby steps are not something to feel ashamed of, they are steps! Any step is better than no steps. So forgive yourself and view your perceived failures as learning and growth opportunites, because that really is what they are.
I hope you found this post useful! Please share with anyone else who could benefit from it. If you have any questions, concerns or requests for future posts, please leave a comment or message me privately.
I wish you many learning opportunites on your journey to finding your State of Balance!
Binge And Restrict Cycle
Eating Disorder Specialist
Healthy Self Vs. Eating Disorder