Practical Help 1: Yep, I actually like Affirmations Now
If you had told me one year ago that my walls are now covered in my best attempts at of making an artistically designed affirmation, I would likely have scoffed. You mean those little “inspirational” quotes you see posted on Instagram sometimes? They’re cute, but… do they really help anyone?
And yet, lo and behold, here’s a picture of one of my favorite affirmations hanging up on my wall.
(A reminder that it is my choice, my responsibility, and something to be proud of.)
What happened? During my time in treatment, we were required to memorize and repeat whichever affirmations, Bible verses, or “healthy truths” we found most helpful. We picked one to say aloud at the start of each meal, and were asked to announce our “daily affirmation” in our first therapy group each day.
Again, I thought it was silly at first. Why am I just saying these words, even ones that I don’t believe? “All exchanges are equal to my body,” I would say whenever I was feeling anxiety over a food my eating disorder found “unhealthy” or “fattening”. (This phrase is supposed to mean that Nutella is no better or worse for your body than almonds or butter; all three are considered a fats, equal in grams and calories, and contribute to the same functions for your body.) But this didn’t help at all; I could repeat it all I wanted as I sat down to a bowl of cereal, but nothing could convince me that oatmeal wouldn’t be healthier. All the artificial ingredients and sugar in that cereal!
But then, one day, it did help. There was a day where I sat down to a snack of a granola bar with Cookie Butter spread on it- got annoyed that it couldn’t just be peanut butter- and heard the words “all exchanges are equal” in my head. And suddenly, the cookie butter was just as acceptable (and actually, yummier!) as peanut butter.
And now, after repeating them countless times, they have become automatic thoughts- just as powerful as the damaging “anorexic” thoughts once were.
Last weekend, I had an hour-long breakdown over a homemade family meal. Exhausted later that night, I glanced at the night sky above me and was suddenly captivated by the stars; I laid down and observed the expanse- just a tiny part of God- and knew I would have the strength to go on joyfully tomorrow. “He refreshes my soul,” I thought.
I might whisper “eat it to beat it” (rather aggressively) to myself when confronted with a bowl of ice cream; as silly as the rhyme is, it’s a reminder of my goal.
I glance at the following verse (which I took forever-and-a-day to design) every day as a reminder to monitor my thoughts to keep them as God commands.
While in treatment, my therapists would tell me nearly every day to repeat it until you believed it. They were right. Take the time to memorize them- it’s worth it.
What are your favorite affirmations? Tell me and I’ll edit this post to share below!