I was talking to a new client recently who mentioned that she’d sought me out as an eating coach in part because of what she’d heard me say on a podcast: I attributed my success to the fact that I would have done anything effective and healthy to recover from my eating problems. Can you say the same for yourself?
Interestingly, I often run into clients who refuse to consider options I suggest which would help them progress in different areas—refuse as in adamantly reject an idea as soon as I say it or only appear to be mulling it over because they don’t want to offend me. When I ask their reason for declining a suggestion, they usually tell me they don’t want to be uncomfortable. Well, I can understand that. This whole thing of going from disregulated to “normal” eating, from an unhealthy relationship with food and body to a positive, functional one can cause a great deal of discomfort.
But what’s the alternative? If you’re not going to pull out all the stops to get better, maybe you’re missing the one or two (or 10) things that will heal you. How do you know which will and which won’t if you have a closed mind and won’t give them a try? How will you change all the aspects of self that need changing to become healthy and happy if you turn down options just because they feel scary or unfamiliar? The truth is that the people who succeed at anything put 100% of themselves into their efforts with no holds barred and they don’t let a little (or even sometimes a lot) of discomfort get in their way. Remember, we don’t change by remaining comfortable, but by being uncomfortable.
What limiting beliefs about discomfort hold you back? If you believe that you shouldn’t have to feel physical or emotional pain, that it will drag you down and keep you under, that it’s not fair that you have to experience it, or that it will hurt, rather than help, it’s time to work on reframing your cognitions. The idea is to use mild discomfort to stretch yourself little by little. You do this by encouraging and cheerleading yourself along a la “I can do this,” not by deciding what you can’t do before you try.
Take one small step forward and notice that you’re still alive, then take another step. Give yourself a huge pat on the back for each and every mighty effort, no matter how small. As you do this repeatedly, your thinking will change, you’ll feel proud, and you’ll recognize that discomfort isn’t such a terrible thing after all. Eventually, you’ll feel neutral about it or even welcome it as a sure-fire precursor to change. Remember this simple adage: no discomfort, no change. And no change means no recovery.