Time and time again, people come to A Place of Hope as a last resort for their eating disorder, many in and out of treatment programs for years. In these cases, the common thread seems to be a recovery philosophy with limited focus, isolating specific aspects of patients’ health and hoping for the best. On the contrary, in our experience, recovery from eating disorders is dependent on a whole-person approach.
From the very first day you enter this world, you have experiences that elicit emotional responses. Every one of them informs the next, not only in terms of how you feel, but how you subsequently react to circumstances and the people associated with them.
In other words, it’s possible to trace the way you feel about yourself today back to experiences in your past that shaped this perception. In doing so, you can get to the heart of core issues influencing your emotional life and, in turn, contributing to self-destructive behavior:
Eating Disorder Cycle
- Feelings of unease and dissatisfaction
- Desire to cover over those feelings
- Use of food as chosen method
- Feelings of guilt, shame, self-hate, and hopelessness after disordered behavior
- Renewed self-hatred over weakness
- Emotionally predisposed to repeat the behavior.
What you believe, about yourself and the world around you, influences every decision you make. Like emotions, your thought life is one built upon beliefs instilled in you since you were a child. But the connection between your emotional self and your intellectual self is even stronger than that. Thoughts influence emotions. Emotions reinforce thoughts. So when these thoughts are lies you’ve come to accept as truth — lies about your self-worth — you’re trapped inside the vicious cycle of self-destructive behavior.
Fortunately, it is possible to examine your negative thought life and consciously counter the lies with the truth.
The way you think and feel doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens within the context of relationships with other people. It starts as a child, when family members teach you the “truth” about yourself. When these early relationships are dysfunctional, it can affect your relationship choices in the future, allowing people into your life who only treat you as well as you believe you deserve to be treated.
Dysfunctional relationships can be what’s at the core of an eating disorder, so it’s important to look at all the significant relationships in your life, past and present. Some can be modified, but others may need to be let go. As painful as this may be, it is a necessary process that will help you recognize and cultivate genuinely healthy relationships.
The physical damage caused by eating disorders can be devastating. For this reason, immediate medical care is imperative. Beyond that, as explained by A Place of Hope founder, Dr. Gregory Jantz, in Hope, Help & Healing For Eating Disorders, “The whole-person approach will help you take an in-depth look at your own body and how it is working. You will look at how certain specific physical conditions can affect and contribute to your eating disorder.”
All too often, we blame ourselves for lacking the will power to make positive changes in our lives. But there is only so much we can do without help from a higher power. That’s why the whole-person approach to healing from eating disorders includes your spiritual self — the part of you connected to a higher power that offers limitless strength, purpose, and hope.