One of the biggest frustrations I see in people with Eating Disorders is the lack of long-lasting success in recovery, which is long, tiring and slow. I remember feeling frustrated that I was still felt controlled by food and I was still relapsing. I remember thinking; “why can’t I beat this?”, “why am I not strong enough to do this?”.
Does that sound familiar?
Traditional recovery approaches
Traditional approaches such as counselling, CBT and Psychology involve analysing, reasoning and rationalising our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Ever heard of the phrase; ‘you feed what you focus on’? Consciously bringing attention to these aspects means you can end up feeling more consumed, obsessed and stuck than ever before! This is long, exhausting, drains your resources and is often ineffective long-term.
Traditional approaches only target 10% of your Eating Disorder- so what is going on with the other 90%?
The sabotaging subconscious mind
When there’s something you desire, like freedom from your ED, but can’t seem to make it happen, chances are that your subconscious mind is preventing you from having what you want.
What is the subconscious mind?
We can think of our mind as an iceberg.
As the iceberg floats in the water, the huge mass of it remains below the surface. Only a small is visible above the surface. The conscious mind is what we notice above the surface while the subconscious mind, the largest and most powerful part, remains unseen below the surface.
· Our conscious mind is responsible for our logic, rational thinking and willpower
· Our subconscious mind contains our survival instincts, emotions, beliefs, identity and habits.
The power of the subconscious mind
Our subconscious is a million times more powerful than our conscious mind.
We operate 90% of our lives from subconscious programmes.
So, just think about your daily ED behaviours. 90% of this is being driven by your subconscious mind without you even realising! Because it is 1 million times more powerful, it will always win. This is why you may be wondering; “why can’t I control my eating disorder?”, “why am I not strong enough to beat it?”.
This has nothing to do with you as a person, your strength, or ability to cope. You have an invisible subconscious ED programme that’s sabotaging you, which cannot be accessed with conscious thought and traditional treatment approaches.
This may explain the reason for the following disappointing traditional recovery stats:
· Full recovery: 30-50%
· 50% of those relapse within 3 months of treatment
After 1 year:
o 33% daily relapse
o 33% once a month
o 33% in-between
Just imagine what you could achieve if you were to influence your subconscious mind in your recovery journey. Targeting the unconscious with Hypnotherapy has been shown to be 15x more effective than willpower. How much time, energy and resources do you waste trying to control your Eating Disorder, when there is something out there which is 15x more effective?
Your subconscious and conscious minds must agree
If your subconscious mind says; “I’m ready to recover and feel safe to do so,” you most likely will find recovery easier. However, when your subconscious mind holds fear and doubt, chances are you’ll have a harder time and may sabotage yourself despite your best intentions.
The 3 elements for successful recovery
You may already have 2 out of the 3 required elements for success:
1. conscious thought (i.e. wanting to recover, and making a conscious effort to plan what to do)
2. conscious action (i.e. going to see a therapist, starting a new eating plan etc.)
BUT you are missing number 3:
3. The support of your subconscious mind
Deep down there may be negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, and negative patterns of behaviour sabotaging your progress. You feel stuck because you have not made the changes in your subconscious mind to support your conscious recovery goals.
This is something that happens to us all to some degree, it is part conditioning, part formation of habits, and part defence mechanism. For example, if you have suffered with an ED, it didn’t just happen overnight. EDs can take time to surface, usually as a result of long established patterns of thinking, behaviour around food and exercise and your beliefs and values.
What is causing your self-sabotage?
To begin, you need to find out what is causing your subconscious mind to disagree with your conscious desires to recover.
This all comes down to whether your subconscious mind truly believes that recovery is possible.
“How do I find out what my subconscious believes?” 1 simple question.
When you look at your Eating Disorder and all your struggles and problems, ask yourself this;
“If there was something I believed about myself that is at the root of all my Eating Disorder struggles, what would it be? Beginning with I or I am”.
For me, it all came down to this; “I am not enough”. My subconscious believed that I was not enough and was driving my Eating Disorder to hold onto that belief as long as it could!
As with everything it is helpful to know what is currently keeping you stuck, but you need to be clear on where you are headed.
Ask yourself this; “if my Eating Disorder were gone for good, what would I believe about myself that I don’t currently now? Beginning with I or I am”.
We are all fed the ‘traditional approach’ to recovery and this is just accepted as the norm. Whilst it may work for some, if you are fed up with struggling and fighting then it may be time to at least be open to something different. Would you continue going to see the same doctor if their treatment wasn’t working? There is always another way if your current approach is not helping you in the way you would like.
These traditional approaches are also based on theory, not fact, as there is no current consensus. They also tend to address food and behaviour first. Unfortunately, without resolving what is driving that behaviour you will likely become stuck. You need to address the internal struggles first and learn emotional management from the inside-out not the outside-in.
If you are frustrated with your slow progress, the daily battle and feeling like something is holding you back from conquering your Eating Disorder, then it is time to try a different approach.
Rather than targeting just 10% of your ED, how about influencing the remaining 90%? It is likely that your subconscious mind, which is 1 million times more powerful than your conscious mind is sabotaging your progress.
You need to work out why your subconscious disagrees with your recovery desires through this simple question; “If there was something I believed about myself that is at the root of all my Eating Disorder struggles, what would it be? Beginning with I or I am”. Focusing on the internal drivers of your ED first is essential for long-lasting recovery.