Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses. Week-on-week feelings changes, people progress in their recovery and specific topics emerge that reflect that progress. We acknowledge this by adapting the contents of our treatment programme to address the themes that crop up. This week, we’re covering the topic of ambiguity.
What is ambiguity and what role does it play in our lives?
Ambiguity is defined as “the quality of being open to more than one interpretation”. It’s an acceptance that there may not be one answer or result to a situation, and allows the opportunity of change. Ambiguity may be defined a “quality”, but it certainly something one feels and has to sit with.
You may feel ambiguity within relationships (see our recent blog on mentalizing) or towards big life decisions (“which course should I study at university?”) or smaller decisions (“what should I wear today?”).
Being curious about it
Often, eating disorders thrive off a misguided feeling of control. Change, or the prospect of change, can be very scary and anxiety-provoking. Because of this, ambiguity may feel quite threatening to someone suffering with an eating disorder.
When ambiguity arises, take time to notice the different parts of yourself that rise up in response. For instance, we may welcome ambiguity and feel open to change, or, we may shy away from ambiguity in an attempt to protect ourselves from negative feelings or uncertainty. By taking the time to acknowledge and forgive how we feel, we can take steps towards undoing ingrained patterns of behaviour that keep us locked in the illness.
What it takes to accept ambiguity
Courage. It takes courage to accept that we cannot control how things turn out. Take things one step at a time and acknowledge that some days it may be easier than others.
Why you should welcome ambiguity
Change happens everywhere in eating disorder recovery. The illness has an impact on someone’s mind and physical body, meaning that there are many things ‘in flux’ as someone progresses in treatment. To address this, we encourage our clients to communicate during times of ambiguity so they can receive the support they need to get through change and continue on their journey.