Today’s post is about how to reframe your negative thoughts. It’s a simple but efficient way to start working on your mindset in eating disorder recovery.
As you probably know recovery brings up a lot of self-critical and negative thoughts – “I’m just bingeing and out of control!”, “I will just gain and gain and it will never stop!”, “I’m fat and disgusting!”.
It’s important to recognize that just because you may think something doesn’t mean it’s a fact. Our thoughts are most often irrational and untrue. And much more importantly – most of our negative thoughts are not helpful!
And you are not a victim to your thoughts. You don’t have to take them as facts and then react and act accordingly. Instead, you can start to actively question, challenge, and reframe your thoughts to something more true and helpful. And this can make such a difference to how you feel, what action you take, and how your recovery will progress.
What is reframing and why it’s important?
Thought reframing is a way to look at any thought, experience, or situation in a more positive, helpful and rational way.
Most often the thoughts we struggle with are very negative and critical. The thoughts are likely blown out of proportion and are very catastrophizing. Our thoughts create this extreme case scenario and we tend to think of the worst possible outcome. But all of this can be very far from reality and not true at all.
But when it comes to your brain then your brain doesn’t understand if something you say is reality or is just a made-up scenario. It will take it as a fact and will react accordingly.
So if you are telling yourself how you will “just gain and gain and it will never stop”, you that some “foods are toxic”, or that “nobody will love you if you gain weight” then your brain will generate very intense feelings because it assumes it must be a fact. But its not a fact, its just a fiction of your mind.
So if you have a lot of extreme fears and feelings around recovery you must start looking into your thoughts and what are you saying to yourself. Likely you are repeating some version of an extreme case scenario that is simply not true or helpful. So if you want to stop sabotaging your recovery this way you must start working on your thoughts. And one good way is to learn how to reframe them to something positive, more realistic, and helpful instead.
How to reframe thoughts?
So how to reframe thoughts? You can follow this simple 4-step process.
1. Become aware
Firstly, become aware of your thoughts. Especially the negative and critical ones.
Or notice whenever you feel any fear, shame, guilt, worry…then ask yourself – what am I thinking, believing or telling myself right now?
2. Write it down
Next, write down the thoughts or the critical self-talk you notice.
For example, you may have thoughts like:
“If I would be thinner I would be happier”
“I’m just bingeing and out of control”
“Everybody is judging my eating”
3. Challenge the thoughts
Next step is to start challenging the thoughts by asking yourself – “What is a more helpful and positive way to look at this?”
“If I would give advice to a person I love who’s in the same situation then what would I say?”
4. Write out the reframe
The next step is to write out the positive and helpful reframe.
I will give you some examples:
If I would be thinner I would be happier
When I was thinner I still hated my body and wished I was even thinner. I wasn’t actually happier, as it was never good enough. Happiness is a mindset, not a number on the scale.
I’m just bingeing and out of control
I’m going through recovery and it is extreme hunger, it is normal and it will pass. Eating a lot of food is a normal reaction to the past of restriction and food deprivation.
Everybody is judging my eating
It is very likely that nobody cares. And even if they do its a reflection of their own diet mindset, its not personal. And I can work on letting go of my own judgment towards myself first.
This is the basic process you can use to reframe your negative thoughts.
I recommend doing this as a daily practice as I know the critical thoughts can be a daily thing for most people in recovery.
Find a journal and use it for reframing so you can work on rewiring your brain and the negative thoughts.
Also you can check out my video about recovery journaling if interested.
If you want to learn more about recovery and how to do it step by step then please read my book “BrainwashED”
You can check out my recovery online courses HERE.
Or you can book a one-off coaching call with me HERE.