As a counselor, I deal with thoughts, feelings, and mostly the client’s inner world, which is his/her truth. With an eating disorder (or any mental health concern), there are the accompanying thoughts, which at times, can be scary, and most times, definitely negative. Here is the funny thing about thoughts: thoughts are just thoughts. They do not necessitate action or mean that they will become reality. Our minds are very powerful and can conjure up wild fantasies which can be found in books and movies but do not necessarily represent reality. To each person, destructive or seemingly “abnormal” thoughts can be threatening, disturbing, or a sign of a detour on his/her mental health journey.
So, what can be done when these thoughts, eating disordered or otherwise, pop up and instead of disappearing, persist? Recognizing the inevitable nature of thoughts and maintaining a relaxed stance is key. Next, comes the hard part: allowing these thoughts to be temporary and pass without judgment. Choose a passing image to assign your most bothersome thoughts, whether it be a leaf floating down a stream, a cloud cutting across a windy sky or a long string of boxcars passing in front of you at a railroad crossing … noting the thought, allowing it to pass and then letting it go. Try it. It might be the ticket for you.
Adapted from Mckay, M., Wood, J.C., & Brantley, J. (2007). The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook.