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Basics of Prioritizing

How often do you wish for more hours in a day? There is always so much to do. Another room to be cleaned, another deadline to be met. It never stops. 
 
Unfortunately, more time in the day would only make the problem worse. You would just take on more responsibility, expect more if yourself and others.
 
The only way to effectively have more time is to have less stuff to do. 
 
Answer this question: “If there were only 18 hours, how would my day be different?” What about 12 hours?
 
Those things you would be forced to put first are your priorities. Those are the things that matter to you.
 
Now, the real question is are those the things you want to be important?

 

Who likes “the process” of change?

No one.
 
The answer is no one.
 
Change is a huge, time consuming, emotionally draining process that everyone hates and no one wants to see.
 
We want a magic trick. We are all supposed to change and grow effortlessly and seamlessly. Whenever a problem arises, we are supposed to disappear into a cocoon somewhere and emerge perfectly transformed. This is true of so many things in life. 
 
Think about it. What does society, your family, or you expect? Poor people are supposed to just have money. Fat people are supposed to just be thin. Those with mental illness are supposed to just be fixed.
 
It’s an absurd standard and one that we should reject thoroughly. The process of change, especially purposeful change, takes a while and is very messy…but it’s a mess in which we should see beauty. 
 
We have to give others and ourselves time. We have to trust that they want to be happy and healthy. See absurd expectations for what they are and let yourself have your process. It is your right.

 

To be the last therapist

This article was supposed to be about how to be “the last therapist a client needs” but I have realized that there is no way to define that mystical creature.

Therapists always dream of being the last one. We want to be the one who solves the problems and helps healing happen. How many of my clients have seen multiple therapists over their lifetimes? How often do they have less than flattering things to say? I can’t tell you, except that the answer is most! (Of course, why would they becoming to see me if they had great feelings about their last therapist?)

Perhaps, the crux of the problem is in the mandate to be genuine. All therapists have a style and way of interacting. We can alter that to some degree and find ways to maintain unconditional positive regard. However, no particular style works for all clients. If you want to be the last one for all clients, you are doomed to fail.

Being a therapist is often very emotionally difficult but so is being a client. Clients must expose deep emotions and dark secrets and the therapists must bear witness and provide healing. There is a vulnerability and a tension that exist between clients and therapists. Sometimes is provides a way to heal and sometimes it doesn’t.

I am desperately afraid of the “doesn’t”. I remember being a client that hated my therapists, at least as a child. It’s a strange irony that I went into the profession, for sure. My parents send me to therapists left and right, and I hated all of them.  The idea of being one of those therapists kills me.

 I am desperately afraid that I will somehow make things worse for a client; that I will unknowingly harm them because I miss an important context clue or do not conceptualize the problem correctly. Obviously, I continue my work. I stay educated and get all of the proper supports. I do everything I can but that fear stays with me.

Research suggests that a therapists ability to apply an evidenced based therapy is the best predictor of client improvement but the best therapies still only have a have a success rate around 60%.  What about the other 40%? What makes the difference?  It’s those clients that I have been and am so interested in. It’s those clients for whom we want to be the last therapists.

Clearly, this will continue to be a struggle for me and for other therapists until we have more research. Until then, let me ask you. Have you found your last therapist? What do you find helps you the most?

 

 

The relief of commitment

There have been two commitments I have made in my life. The first was too recovery and the second was two my husband. Both were utterly terrifying but both have made me feel more secure than I ever dreamed possible.

I have always been an anxious person and for many years used the avoidance behaviors of an eating disorder to control the anxiety. Now matter what happened, as long as I used a behavior I was going to be ok. Losing that one, reliable thing in my life was so scary. However, it was consuming me. It was ruining me and every hope and dream. It had to go and when I finally decided to reject the eating disorder, something magical happened.

I found out that I could survive anxiety and still be ok. It turns out there is no other choice but to be ok. None. No other choice. In discovering that lone fact, the resistance to recovery I had always felt transformed into a resistance to the eating disorder.

That abusive, horrible voice in my head started to fade. It became the enemy it always was. As I fought, it faded and as it faded, I fought. Commitment to recovery, in the end, relieved me of that burden.

Committing to my husband was a similar process. I had a deep, overwhelming fear of marriage. From my experience, marriage only led to suffering, heartache, and anger. I wanted to part of it. Event e positive marriages I saw, I considered flukes and time-bombs. Eventually, those people were going to destroy each other.

My perceptions started to change after a conversation about children with my now husband. We had been dating almost 2 years. You would think that I would have begun to see the light at that point but I’m stubborn, apparently. I had asked him about having children and he brought up marriage. I told him my opinion of marriage. The look on his face was heart-breaking. He said “You would want a child with me but you wouldn’t make that commitment to me?” I dropped the conversation at that point but it made me think.

Long story short, we did end up getting married. It was a traumatic experience for me. We had a small ceremony because I couldn’t handle a bunch of people watching me jump of a cliff. Sadly, that’s what it felt like. I was hoping against hope I would find out I had wings but had no faith that it would happen. I simply loved my husband enough to try.

We’ve been married two and half years now and for most of that, I have not believed we would make the long haul. Somewhere in there though, I started to take the end off the table. The D word isn’t an option. How that happened is a mystery to me but it did. And guess, what…I feel alot better…about everything. I trust myself, my husband, my life more than I ever have. Turns out, I do have wings. Or rather, we have wings.

What positive risks have you taken in your life? What has brought you long lasting relief? What holds you back in recovery?

Tips for supporting someone with an eating disorder

Family members and friends always wonder how to help their loved one who is suffering with an eating disorder.  Here are a tips.

Tip 1: Express love unconditionally.
 
The impulses of a loved one is typically to express love and concern in the same breath. It’s natural and understandable. It’s also risky. Concern often comes across as controlling and directive. Instead, try just saying “I love you” without anything else. Don’t say “I love you and I’m worried.” or I only say this because I love you.” A simple “I love you” will suffice. 
 
 
Tip 2:Reflectively listen.
People with eating disorders sew routinely invalidated and misunderstood. Don’t continue the cycle. When that someone speaks, don’t respond with an suggestion or advice. “Reflect back.” Say what you think they meant or identify the emotion they are feeling. 
 
For example, if your person says “I hate food,” respond with “Eating makes you feel pretty anxious, huh?”
 
By reflectively listening, you communicate that her experience is real and that you understand. Feeling understood is invaluable!
 
Tip 3: Don’t ask questions about weight or meal plan.
 
This seems pretty obvious but please, leave weight and meal plan questions to the professionals! Even if you are an ED professional, do not counsel your loved one. Leave it to her team. Let her interactions with you be a place of calm normalcy. Grilling her about what she ate today is counterproductive and often, just plain rude.
 
 
 
 
Have you ever had a loved one with an eating disorder or are you struggling? What’s the best way to support recovery?

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