Making Is-ness (& Recovery) Your Business

I just finished reading a very fun yet meaningful book written by Marie Forleo, a business, relationship and self-acceptance guru for women.  Her book, ‘Make Every Man Want You’, provides more than just guidance on how to meet someone.  It offers wonderful insight into how you can be present in your life and to enjoy it!  Forleo calls it making is-ness your business and many of the tips and self-reflection exercise can also be applied to the recovery process.

In the chapter titled, Irresistibility 101, she states that to foster your irresistibility, you must take personal responsibility for your life.  Honing this responsibility will allow you to acknowledge the fact that you have the ability to respond to your life instead of automatically reacting to it.  She states that “many of us behave like robots, mechanically acting out habitual thought patterns of self-pity, overwhelming resentment.  Rather than discovering who we are now or who we are with now, we re-act, or act again, based on how we reacted to similar events in our past.”

Many of my clients sought therapy because they realized that their way of reacting to life’s stressors or challenges with the ‘support’ of their eating disorder no longer worked for them or was not working as well as it had in the past.  By acknowledging that the eating disorder thoughts and behaviors were actually getting in the way of allowing them to be present in their relationships or attracting new relationships, they were ready to begin the journey of recovery.

Per Forleo, “Being personally resinspirational-quotes-large-msg-133224814478ponsible allows you to dissolve old programming and start responding to your life appropriately rather than mechanically re-acting like you did in the past.  This is an incredibly exciting place to live.  With personal responsibility, you gain a tremendous amount of control in your life.  You can free yourself from cyclical life patterns and proactively impact the quality and existence of your relationships.”

Often, eating disorder behaviors are about gaining a sense of control.  Unfortunately the control is unrelated to what the stressor is actually about and instead turns it into a problem with your body image or weight.  Therefore, the ‘responsible’ actions are instead around food and exercise versus handling the stress or conflict in a productive and healthy way.

So how do we stop these patterns?  Forleo believes that the first step in personal responsibility is by facing the reality of how you operate in your life.   But this does not mean you should beat yourself up about it! “When you judge, berate, criticize, complain, or otherwise add commentary to your self-observations, you actually cement undesirable behaviors in place.  The challenge, of course, is that our minds are automatic judgment machines.  They instantly evaluate everything we do as either good or bad, right or wrong.  Thankfully this isn’t a problem.  The trick is to simply notice the judgment and then not judge yourself for judging yourself and if that doesn’t work, take one step out and don’t judge yourself for judging yourself for judging yourself.  At some point, you’ll reach a state of neutrality.  There’s a law in physics that states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  In other words, what we resist persists.  Judging, berating, criticizing and complaining are all forms of resisting.”

Here is your assignment:

For the next 24-hours, make is-ness your total business.  No matter what happens- your printer breaks, your date cancels, or the plane is delayed for two hours- pretend that you wanted it to happen.  You can even say, “And this is what I want!” after any circumstance that your mind wants to resist.  While this may feel odd, it will help you become aware of all the ways you resist your is-ness and unwittingly create misery, frustration and upset in your life.


Shrein Bahrami, MFT  |  2146 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123  |  415.595.8963