Change Takes Time

Transformation of common map (Cyrestis thyodamas ) butterfly from caterpillar

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Change takes time. Yet so many people give up before the change happens. This is one of the saddest realities I face in my work. Sometimes it seems that my clients’ eating disorders are much, much stronger than me, and that’s what’s winning: this disordered eating, dysfunctional eating, and distorted relationships with food, weight, exercise, and other people.

Yet the hope, confidence, and recovery I see in those who stick it out inspires me to keep going and to keep sharing my discoveries with you.

Whether you’re working with a therapist one-on-one, attending a therapy group, or joining a workshop or class, these outside solutions are always going to be just part of the story. You need self-activation to make changes internally, and make them last.

Self-activation is not easy or comfortable. You’ve been using the same behaviors and coping mechanisms for many years now, and even though they may be harming you, they’re what you know and that feels safer than doing something new.

It’s not easy to stay motivated to push past this discomfort, and keep doing the work while you’re waiting for results. Maybe it would be easier if this were a court-ordered treatment, or if your family was pressuring you to get help. But when it comes to food issues, family and friends are more likely to expect you to handle this on your own, i.e., “Why can’t you just stop eating/starving/exercising?”

You know it’s not that easy. You’ve tried. You know you need help. But until you make a commitment to change, it’s going to be nearly impossible to convince yourself or anyone else that you need to keep doing the work.

In 12-step recovery they talk about having the “gift of desperation.” That deep knowing that if you keep doing what you’re doing, you won’t be able to cope or even survive. When you have that gift of desperation, it can give you the willingness and the patience to wait for results and be content with small, steady progress. You may need assistance to cultivate this gift in order to stay the course.

Remember that therapy can be so much more than talk. If you don’t want to do the deeper work in therapy, try another type of support program. There are several 12-step options, including Overeaters Anonymous, Eating Disorders Anonymous, and Food Addicts Anonymous. If there aren’t any face-to-face groups in your area, try phone or online meetings. The important thing is to get support. Get started.

There are ongoing therapy groups, workshops and intensives, and many different types of therapy. At White Picket Fence Counseling Center, we customize sessions for each client. For example, I incorporate yoga-based therapy and SoulCollage®, while Jaki often meets her clients outdoors in a park or for a walking session. Georgeanne offers nutritional therapy.

We take this creative approach because we know that talk therapy only gets us so far. If a client needs another level of care, or a type of therapy we don’t offer, we’ll refer to another professional and help manage the process.

People can change. You can change. I’ve personally seen hundreds of people develop a healthier relationship with food and with people, become active, get better jobs, become happier in their work and personal relationships, and be better parents, friends, daughters and sons.

It’s such an honor to watch those beautiful changes, That’s why it’s so sad when people quit before they can really have that significant change. I know it’s hard. I know that the dysfunction pulls at you. There is help, but you have to pick up the phone, walk through the door, and take that first step (again). But once you’ve done that, we can help you take the rest.

P.S. Is there a workshop topic that would help you move forward in your recovery? We’re planning our next season of workshops right now and we want to hear from you! If money is an issue, we offer a limited number of scholarships or we can refer you to free resources in the community. There is no reason you can’t get help and make some changes.

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