Rewrite Your Story
One of the biggest struggles when it comes to maintaining recovery from binge eating is trying to sustain your new behavioral change and overall transformation for the long term. When you’ve spent years–or perhaps even the majority of your life–living a certain way and identifying with certain stories and beliefs, as well as the resulting coping mechanisms, it can be difficult to change that way of being. But it is possible. The key to maintaining your recovery is this: you must rewrite your story.
Before you can rewrite your story, you must first discover what it is. What is the number one story or belief that is holding you back and creating a struggle around your recovery? Dig deep and begin to reflect on what you’ve always told yourself about who you are and your behaviors. Our stories are hidden deep in our subconscious, and we are always reinforcing them, so you must really peel back the layers to discover what lies beneath. You can discover your story by asking yourself these questions:
– What are my stories around food?
– What are my stories around my body?
– What are my stories around my weight?
– What are some of my behaviors that I don’t like and what are the stories associated with those behaviors?
Take some time to hone in on the stories that feel most debilitating for you. These will be the stories that are always bouncing around your head – so pay attention to negative self-talk in particular.
It’s likely your stories don’t even belong to you. They are probably beliefs that you picked up along the way, most likely when you were a child. We are prone to adopt the beliefs, thoughts, and stories of our parents, family, friends, and society in general. In fact, we sometimes don’t even know that these (often false) stories exist within us. For example, perhaps your mother would always complain about being overweight and would say something like, “To be successful and appreciated, you need to be skinny.” And then maybe you took on that belief, and it’s the underlying story that has fueled your battle with food and body for years.
When you begin to discover your own stories – question them. Identify a story or belief, and then ask yourself, “Is this story really mine? Who did I learn this from?”
Remaining trapped in stories that are not true for you can be a hurdle to maintaining your recovery. Your brain and logic can actually be a hindrance, as part or our wiring as humans is for our brains to find evidence to support our beliefs. This evidence then fuels our behaviors. For example, if you’re trying to implement a new workout regimen in the mornings, but you’ve always struggled with waking up early, and you have a story that, “I’m just not a morning person and I won’t be able to stick to this type of practice,” your brain will recall all of the times you failed at this type of change and this story was actually true for you. You may get stuck in this onslaught of past failures, which leads to you giving up on your new intention. Because your brain went into “seek evidence” mode to illuminate this old (and untrue) story, it turns into a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.
This can be a sticking point when it comes to your recovery, for most of the evidence you have will align with your old stories, which can make change and long-term transformation seem fruitless and even impossible. But you must remember – you can change. You can rewrite your story.
How to Rewrite Your Story
1) Start with curiosity: You can combat your old story with curiosity. Refer to the questions noted above to really figure out if the stories you are holding onto are really yours.
2) Observation vs. identification: Know that you can observe your stories, thought patterns, and experience without identifying with it. For instance, just because you are feeling lonely doesn’t mean that you are alone, it means that you are experiencing sensations of being lonely.
3) Shift the belief, not the behaviors: Successful recovery isn’t about managing your behaviors (like when and what you eat or how frequently you exercise), it’s about shifting the core beliefs that fuel your behaviors. That’s why rewriting your story is so important – your beliefs drive your actions, so once you can change your beliefs, your actions will shift as a result.
4) Write your new story: Once you’ve identified the stories you want to shift, it’s time to create your new stories that align with your recovery and transformation. For example, if your old story was, “I’ll always be addicted to junk food,” your new story could be, “I’m learning how to be intentional with my food choices and use food for health and hunger.”
Rewriting your story takes time. It’s likely that you will feel resistance to shifting your story, because we often find our significance within our story and false identities. However, it’s important to remember this truth: you are the creator AND the destroyer of your experience. You are free to destroy all that is not serving you on the highest level. So what is the new story that you can write that will enable you to maintain your recovery and live a life that brings you joy and ease?