How to be accountable and take responsibility in eating disorder recovery 

Eating disorder recovery requires individuals to Be Honest – to be honest of their needs and thoughts; to be honest to others and how they can support; and to be honest on how recovery is going, even if it feels difficult. We share a few reminders on why honesty is vital in recovery.

Throughout May, we are focusing on the importance of honesty, communication and maintaining boundaries, and how these are essential for a sustainable and collaborative eating disorder recovery.  

Honesty. Truthfulness. Sincerity. These are important in recovery, but they can also be hard. 

In the context of eating disorders, honesty is the skill of recognising what our needs are and being able to take steps to ensure those needs are met, either by ourselves or others. 

That said, being honest can feel hard because it requires a level of vulnerability… and making contact with vulnerability can feel, well, threatening. We explore how our bodies respond to threat and stress with use of the poly-vagal theory. 

Feelings and needs are sensitive and confusing at times. It might feel easier to pretend they’re not there, or to minimise them. Similarly, voicing it – to ourselves or to others – can make it (whatever “it” is) suddenly feel very *real*, or out of our personal control. 

It might feel too much, and we might notice a resistance towards letting that guard down. This ok. We see this as coming from a protective intent. For, you’re only human and we have to make sure we feel safe.

“By being honest with yourself, you can gently call out the eating disorder when it shows up in the way you think and act. Practicing self-compassion here is so essential, as it allows you to offer understanding towards yourself that this eating disorder isn’t your fault. Recovery is something that you do get to choose.” 

Sophie Killip, Orri’s Online Eating Disorder Therapist

Honesty intertwined with self-compassion can provide you with space to accept your past and use your experiences to create a future where you have freedom around food and can confidently practice self-love. 

Self-love is more in depth than what we often see on social media. It is an embodied practise, and one that requires time to nurture. It might start as small gestures of kindness and gentleness to ourselves. 

In eating disorder recovery, self-love can look like challenging the eating disorder and letting yourself feel those uncomfortable emotions. Self-love is also showing up for therapy or your treatment programme, even when you don’t always want to. 

Honesty is deeply supportive of recovery. If we hear the call to courage and decide to answer it, being honest can help us: 

  • Be accountable for our journey 
  • Take responsibility for our needs 
  • Assert boundaries 
  • Not feel so isolated in our experience 
  • Open doors to support that maybe we didn’t know were there 

Here are three ways to support this practice… 

1) Give your thoughts and needs room to breathe.

You, like everyone else on this planet, are a beautifully complex human being with shifting feelings and needs. Keeping track of all these things is tricky if we’re just holding it all in our minds. For those prone to over-thinking, we might find our minds offering narratives around how we feel, and muddying the puddle.  

Journal – get it out, on paper, and allow yourself to make sense of all the pieces. You are welcome to share your recovery thoughts and experiences in our Blog. Find out more here. 

2) Treat yourself with tenderness.

Connecting to our needs and sitting with vulnerability is exposing and hard work – and might not be possible some days. Don’t judge yourself for not being 100% all the time. Life events can happen that make us want to retreat for a while and protect ourselves. That’s ok. Keep enquiring into what is happening for you: 

“Am I feeling open or closed to the world today?” 

Remember, tomorrow is a new day, and every day is a day that you have never seen before. 

3) Say how you feel.

Perhaps it feels uncomfortable to ask for your needs to be met. Maybe this becomes a barrier to you getting the support that you need and deserve. 

If that’s the case – name it. It’s all welcome and all feelings are valid. Showing up authentically allows the possibility of being truly seen by another human being. 

“It feels hard to ask for this, but can you help with X?” 

“What do I want to communicate today? What do I want heard?” 

“What do I do if the conversation doesn’t quite go to plan?” 

Honesty can mean that you need to make changes today, and this takes courage. We are here, right beside you. 

Looking for more on honesty in recovery? Join Orri’s online community in a confidential explorative space. 

Our Nurturing Hope event will explore the theme of honesty in recovery; how honesty can offer both challenges and opportunities for our growth in our journey. Honesty can mean coming to terms with what we need, and this can take courage. Orri is here to walk alongside you in that process. 

Find out more and register for your ticket, here:  

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