Try reframing for changing your attitude toward almost anything. Reframing is like putting a new frame around a picture—it can entirely change the look of something. Changing a belief goes like this: making, “I can’t bear feeling uncomfortable,” “I can manage discomfort without abusing food,” or “I have to exercise more if I overeat,” “I can exercise my regular amount even if I overeat.” By now, those of you who’ve read my books probably know a lot about reframing beliefs.
You can reframe emotions and view them in a new, healthier light. Instead of considering feeling frightened of new people as childish, think of it as a way of protecting yourself from getting hurt. Rather than look at feeling helpless when someone yells at you as being oversensitive or weak, take the attitude that you’re trying to avoid pain. When you get angry at yourself for letting guilt maneuver you into doing something you don’t really want to do, remind yourself that you’ve been well trained and were a good learner. I can’t think of an emotion you can’t reframe.
The same is true of behavior. You can take any “bad” behavior and make it all right. Say you ate too much at lunch and feel stuffed. Instead of coming down hard on yourself for having been out of control, consider that you won’t be hungry for a while and will have time for other activities, that is, think of overeating as a time saver. When you allow yourself to be unhealthily dependent on family, rather than dump on yourself for not acting grown up, think of it as not having been taught the skills for independence. If you purge, it’s not self-destructive, but the best way you know to manage distressing feelings right now. Next time you make a poor choice due to acting impulsively, tell yourself that being a risk-taker can be a wonderful quality if only you can add some good judgment to it.
Reframing works wonders because it puts a positive spin on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It gives you a healthier view of yourself: you’re not defective, you’re a late bloomer or a person who learned her lessons early and well. It increases self-compassion and decreases self-hate and remorse. Moreover, it gives you a chance to step back, objectively reflect, and ask if you’re really such a terrible person (You aren’t!). Last, reframing makes it clear that what you think, feel, and do are not cast in concrete but can be changed for no other reason than that you want to view everything about you in a better light. How we view things is one of the few things we can change in life and that new slant can make all the difference in recovering from eating problems.