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This last year of my life, I have been dedicated to healing and recovering from my history of disordered eating, anxiety, and toxic patterns.
Recovering from trauma or any type of emotional or mental challenge is possible, but it takes work. It takes constant effort.
If we want to create a completely new mental landscape, then we have to be willing to do the garden work. Ripping out the shrubs, weeds, and toxic behaviors of the mind that have been so easily grooved into our consciousness.
We need to plant new seeds of thought through writing, visualizing, cleansing the body; we need to create a strong support system around us in the form of friends, therapists, family, treatments; we need to create our personal oasis with the right tools, people, and atmospheres in order break free of the parts of ourselves that have been limiting us for so long.
It’s possible. For years, I told myself and wrongfully thought that I would be doomed forever to be stuck in these toxic ways. I didn’t see the potential in myself to actually recover or change my ways of living.
Body Acceptance and Rewiring the Brain
It’s called radical acceptance because it truly does feel radical and wild and so out of sorts. Our minds are so used to the habitual patterns and cycles that we become addicted to the thought processes that are telling us we are fat or not fit enough. It can become muddy, especially when we are dealing with emotional turbulence or mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or eating disorders.
The psyche will find ways to self-sabotage and create false perceptions of self. It will come up with reasons why we are not good enough, and our toxic habitual cycles can leave us feeling trapped and not in control of our emotions. Once these grooves are so deeply engrained, it truly takes something like radical acceptance and surrender to switch out of the self-punishment mindset we are in and anchor into santosha, or contentment from within.
This is something I am trying to practice even on the days I feel physically unwell or uncomfortable with lots of autoimmune or hormonal symptoms. It feels radical and so unlike myself to, even if I have a laundry list of symptoms, surrender and accept the way I look or feel—to be able to look in the mirror and say, “This is how your body looks and feels today.”
You can choose to tap into radical acceptance or you can literally fight and struggle and energetically freak out, which is going to cause more stress and inflammation to the body anyway.
Overriding and Separating Self from the Toxic Part of Self
Overriding old ways of living and parts of ourselves can be daunting. It’s an internal battle of new thought patterns and old, toxic cycles trying to make an appearance over and over again.
Overriding the old thought loops takes radical acceptance. Even if it feels insane and so unlike myself to truly find peace with my body, even on the worst of days when I feel swollen, puffy, or “gross,” I have to come to a point in my mind where I can separate myself from those thoughts because they are not mine. They have just been a part of my conditioning for over a decade—a lot having to do with my background in dance, which shaped my low self-esteem as a young six-year-old girl.
But those altered and untrue perceptions of myself that followed me all these years? That part of my psyche is no longer welcomed or enjoyed to be here.
So when I find myself stuck in a toxic cycle of self-detrimental body image thoughts, I quite literally imagine myself in my mind’s eye stepping in front of that part of myself, pushing her aside, overriding her, and making amends with my body. Or I step in front of her, and I separate myself from her, in order to evolve and transcend into a new way of being.
It takes practice, and a constant anchoring into knowing internally that 99 percent of my thoughts toward myself are wrong and untrue. “It’s all in my head” is a simple and cliché mantra that I use every day. Body dysmorphia is a real mental illness and it’s strange to navigate through. But it’s about catching those toxic thought loops, acknowledging them, and releasing them because you know deep down they are not true.
So the un-brainwashing continues, my friends. I struggled immensely for over 13 years of my life. Every time I looked in the mirror, I hated what I saw. I felt trapped in a body I perpetually hated, and for what? The cause of the self-hatred is a channel and a way for us to take out our emotional pain and trauma on ourselves, to soothe ourselves away from the pain by self-punishment and self-sabotage.
So if you have been suffering from an eating disorder, addiction, or any type of mental health issue that is body-related or correlated with self-esteem and body image, you are capable of healing. It is possible. If I can do it, so can you.
For guided meditations and a plethora of writing prompts, check out Gab’s Modern Meditation and creative writing course.
If you enjoyed this article, You can tune into Gab’s podcast, “The Vibe Within” where she interviews psychologists, holistic healers, tarot readers, and spiritual leaders in the wellness space.