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How do you boost self-esteem when having a ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ day? -C
Boosting self-esteem in eating disorder recovery can be challenging if we focus on the areas our culture and our eating disorder say are the most important parts of ourselves (i.e. our appearance).
If we feel “fat” or “ugly” and try to boost our self-esteem by telling ourselves that we’re beautiful (physically) or concentrate on our appearance, we will always lose.
First of all, it’s important to remember that the voice that’s telling us we’re fat or ugly is our eating disorder voice (ED voice). One of the key things in recovery is to identify when it’s the ED voice and when it’s our true or authentic voice. Once you identify which is which, you can begin talking back to it and disagreeing with it.
Typically the ED voice sounds like a bully and will say really hurtful and harmful things.
The ED voice loves to attack appearance, don’t fall for this trap. Instead, focus on the qualities you like about yourself that have nothing to do with appearance and share them with your eating disorder when you’re having a moment when the ED voice is trying to tear you down.
It may be helpful to have a list of things you like that you’ve put together either with your therapist or by yourself so that you can have them ready to go when ED strikes. Even if you don’t fully believe in everything on your list, it’s important that you have something you like about yourself that is not appearance related in order to fight back against the ED voice.
If you feel like you don’t have anything that you like about yourself, then you may want to find ways to practice qualities you deem as admirable on a consistent basis.
For example, you may sign up to volunteer through a non-profit, you may choose to take on a hobby that you enjoy, or maybe find ways to help others that boost positive feelings.
There are usually a variety of ways to be a part of your community and help others; if you search for them, you will find them.
I hope this helps! Don’t forget to join our group on Facebook if you’re looking for community and support!
Robyn Baker, CPT, RYT, BS
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Disclaimer: This column is meant to serve as a safe place to ask questions and get opinions from educated professionals; but please always consult your own team before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Although our Experts are certified professionals in their area, their advice may not be suitable for your situation, and thus is not to be taken in place of that given by your recovery team and/or family doctor or personal therapist. Please use your own good judgment, and consult a licensed mental health practitioner for specific treatment. In the case of a crisis, please do not rely on this column, as answers may take several weeks to be published, and not all questions will be addressed. Please contact one of the Helplines listed in our Resources section if you feel you are a harm to yourself or in need of emergency support.