“What worked for you?”
I’m often asked this question by other people going through recovery. The answer is always simple – “I don’t know.”
I answer “I don’t know” because I really just don’t know. If I look back and say what I’ve done with my therapist in the past, I could tell you several things we’ve tried (like the really annoying “responding to ED” with feelings), but I can’t tell you all that we’ve done; all that works. I sometimes write down notes and thoughts after sessions, but I don’t have a detailed record of all of it.
My answer is vague because I’ve come to realize that therapy just becomes a part of you. It becomes a part of your everyday life when you start making the changes that are suggested. Really, we are all in therapy because we have to change something, so to think that we don’t have to work for it, is absurd. When you “work” in therapy, the discussions, strategies etc. merge with who you are and who you will start to become.
I really don’t think there is one specific thing that will work for anyone. There isn’t one “ah-ha” strategy, or one thing that makes the big difference. Eating disorders are complicated illnesses to overcome, so to think that one thing will work is just asking to be frustrated – and it’s sending you on a hunt down a rabbit hole for something that is non-existent.
I remember walking into the treatment program at Hershey talking to my assigned therapist there. I said, “I want to recover. How do I make the best of being here and get the most out of it?” Her answer was so simple that it seemed like it wasn’t enough. She said, “Just be present – in all groups and discussions, be present and try to learn.” Admittedly, I walked out of her office saying she was a quack and that was the crappiest answer I’ve ever received…. but her answer was right on target. Let’s be honest, we hate to admit it, but it’s rare for your therapist to be completely wrong. Her answer sticks with me today, in therapy, and in everyday life. We are such busy people in our world today, and we learn to do so many things at once, we forget how to be present. There is always something else to worry about or something else crowding our mind.
Being present might be somewhat of a good answer to “what worked for you?” I’m constantly working on being present in everything I do. When I sit in church, I work to be there, in that moment listening to the Word and enjoying that experience. When I’m running or doing yoga, I work to use the time for myself; to enjoy that I can still do those activities and to not think about the other worries or obligations I have.
If there is anything that is easy and could work for everyone – it’s being present. Being present in all therapy, group, medical or dietary discussions. Being present, and a participant in discussions. I have noticed that this process goes faster when you are an active participant. Note that when I say “faster” I really mean that it goes at “normal speed” because when we aren’t active, we only slow ourselves down.
Truthfully, any person in any walk of life could work on being present. Happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a state of being.
Think about it —- where do you stand when it comes to being present and in the moment?