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Treating Eating Disorders Through the Lens of Internal Family Systems (IFS)

danny-g-528854-unsplashOne approach that I use in working with eating disorders is Internal Family Systems (IFS).  IFS holds the belief that within each person there exist many “parts” of self or sub personalities and that each have developed over time as a way to try to help manage the system as a whole. This might sound crazy or very far fetched, but in looking at one’s own experience, it’s often very easy to see this in play.

An example of this in eating disorders is the part of the person that wants to restrict food in order to change their body and then, often at the same time, another part of them that wants to binge on food.  This experience is often very confusing for clients: why they binge when they so desperately want to stop. In using IFS, I help clients identify the different parts of themselves, and understand what that part’s intention is, and what it’s needing in order to stop engaging in its problematic behavior. Having insight into these questions can have a profound effect on one’s internal state and actions.

Another goal of IFS is increasing compassion for ourselves and our various parts.  When we understand the positive intention of one of our parts (the bingeing part for example is often a way to numb and distract people from uncomfortable feelings), we can then have more compassion for it instead of hating it (and ourselves). IFS can also be helpful in exploring painful past experiences and increasing compassion and understanding for ourselves. When we visit these past experiences from our adult loving presence it helps us see our past differently which affects how we see ourselves today. IFS can be very helpful in understanding and shifting eating disorder behaviors, whether restricting, binging, purging, or anything else that gets acted out in the course of an eating disorder.

Written by Anna Clark, LMFT

Learn more about Anna here.

A Client’s Experience

“I’ve had very mixed feelings about my eating disorder. It has ranged from making me feel powerful to completely hopeless and desperate. At one point I remember being terrified of how I could continue living my life with such a huge burden, and I wasn’t sure if I could.

It was my drug and I was so addicted. It would lift me up so high and make me feel special, and then it could drop me so low and make me feel powerless and alone. I wasn’t sure if I would have the strength to rise above it. Especially because I wouldn’t admit it to anyone. Looking back I should have asked for help much earlier, but I didn’t want anyone to take it away from me.

During my college years I found some sort of way to cope with in a healthier way and was able to live normally with it. But the eating disorder was always in the background of everything I did. It was this annoying nagging force that would drive me to do things I didn’t want to do. I had to run every morning and never eat more than one sweet thing a day. And if I did, I could barely deal with all the torment and mean things the eating disorder would scream at me. I’d be running double the time the next day and barely eating anything.

This whole cycle wasn’t sustainable, and on top of having a job I hated after college and living in a new city I did not like, my life was miserable. I felt that if this was how the rest of my life was going to be, I didn’t want it. Everything seemed so bleak, dark and unhopeful. My demons seemed bigger than me and just the thought of waking up another day and living the same life seemed unbearable.

Things were messed up and I knew something had to change. But I didn’t know where to begin. I had seen a few therapists in the past and none of them really understood or helped at all. I felt like they were pointless, didn’t get me and were wasting my parents money.

At this point my mom intervened and told me that I needed to give therapy one more shot because I could not handle this problem alone. I needed to believe and have faith that this time it could be different. I was extremely skeptical but agreed to go to a therapist that she had found that she thought was the right fit for me.

That was when I started seeing Shrein and things slowly began to shift. It was very hard at first because I was still so wrapped up in the eating disorder and would get angry with Shrein. She wanted me to do things that I definitely did not want to do and would disagree with things that I thought were very important. But she started breaking through to me and kindly helping me untangle from the eating disorder. She would keep reminding me of the importance of the work we were doing and would gently keep me on the right path. It was definitely hard but amazing change did take place and I would not be so close to recovery and living the life I live now, if I had not continued on this path.

I am not fully recovered and my eating disorder still affects me sometimes, but it doesn’t control me at all. I am much better and I am so much happier. I am working on my body image and on creating a healthy relationship with food where I really listen to what my body wants and eat until I am satisfied. Shrein has also helped me realize that I need to find a different way to live my life and find happiness and fulfillment. Happiness and love need to be cultivated inside of yourself and you won’t find it in external things.

What I have found is that I need something that gives me an internal fortitude. Life throws so many hard things at you all the time, that I needed something that made me strong inside to deal with all of this. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually strong. And that would only come from doing internal work and I am so lucky that I have realized this and am now on the right path.”

The Imagine Journal

33For many of my clients, knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel is crucial to staying on the path to recovery. Some have been struggling for several years and cannot imagine what life without the constant negative thoughts and judgments would be like.

A significant part of my job is to regularly remind them of what they are working so hard for and normalize how many bumps in the road there will be.  It can often feel like it is one step forward, two steps back and they question whether it is worth it. I will often share articles or recommend books written by women who have recovered, like Carolyn Costin or Jennie Schaefer, to help them trust in the process.

Yet, I wanted to be able to share something with them that was even more tangible, especially for women just realizing that they have an eating disorder. That the idea of letting go of such long held beliefs could be done. And that the treatment plan I was recommending of self-care, mindfulness and the intuitive eating approach does work.  I knew it would make it so much more meaningful if they were able to see it, in someone’s handwriting, and know that the writer had sat in the same spot on the couch in my office so ready for change, but unsure at one time how it would ever happen.  photo 2

I began asking clients who were at the end of their recovery journeys if they would be willing to anonymously share their story. Without hesitation, they filled the journal’s pages with their own unique experiences; the highs and lows, the rock bottom and aha moments and the tools that helped them make it through. They were happy to be able to give back in some way and inspire someone to stay committed to recovery. I am immensely proud of this journal; of the diverse stories in which healing and transformation took place and the amazing women who courageously fought for the lives they were meant to live.



Understanding ADHD

I think that many of us are aware of and have some understanding of what ADHD or ADD means or looks like.  Usually it conjures up images of young children, often boys, who cannot sit still and require medication such as Ritalin.  Unfortunately, this generalization leaves many girls undiagnosed and thus not able to receive the support they need.  As they continue to grow into adulthood, this lack of understanding by themselves, teachers and family members creates an environment of judgment, pain and confusion.  Often, women who struggle with ADHD or ADD are very intelligent and creative, but struggle to handle daily tasks such as running errands or staying organized.  To fend off this image as someone who is lazy or disorganized, they will keep their struggles a secret and work twice as hard to accomplish certain tasks, inevitably leading to intense fatigue, stress and burnout.  Additionally, in order to keep it a secret, they will refuse or not ask for support; leaving them feeling alone and intensely self-critical.  Further, they often struggle with verbalizing their needs and boundaries and often taken on more than they can handle.

In the text, ‘Women with Attention Deficit Disorder” by Sari Solden, the author shares her struggle with ADD as well as her work as a therapist with ADD/ADHD clients.  Solden provides an eye-opening account of what it is like to go through life feeling like an outsider, and ultimately her own healing journey towards self-acceptance.  She also includes stories from clients of the impact of their ADD on everything from their careers and relationships to co-occurring struggles with other mental health issues such as depression, eating disorders and addiction.  

stressed-woman-cartoon-2-tinyAt the outset, Solden addresses the misconceptions.  “ADD is not just for kids, not just for boys, not just about being hyperactive, not about a ‘deficit of attention’, and not about being irresponsible or having a character flaw”.  Further, she clarifies that it is “a neurochemical disorder (not a psychological one) … it is extremely important to understand that while ADD is a serious disorder, it is not characterlogical or psychological, but neurobiological.  Neurobiological or neurochemical means it’s not your fault, and it means it’s the way your individual brain works.  It does not mean you have brain damage”.  

Learning the above is such a critical part to one’s own process of understanding and healing, not only for the person suffering, but for their loved ones as well.  Removing the blame and guilt around this disorder can free the person to begin to accept support in various ways and allow them to succeed with their disorder instead of in spite of it, burying it with shame and secrets.   

So how does someone treat their ADD or ADHD?  Solden breaks it down into the three R’s: Restructure, Reintegrate and Redefine.  To restructure means to take account of current strengths and look at what has been working thus ar.  Then, taking account of their own needs  and of those around them (family, boss, etc).   Lastly, clarifying or identifying what they are passionate about or how they include fun in their lives.  The next “R”, Reintegrate, addresses how to go about applying this restructuring to their lives.  It can often be quite tricky as family and friends may be very supportive and understanding at first, but unprepared for the fact that they will have to make some changes as well.   When there is any change in a system, the effects are felt by all in the system (i.e. work, home, extended family) and some members may be more ready or accepting of change than others.  Believing and trusting that ultimately this change is best for all involved will sustain you through this phase of reintegration.  

It is critical at this juncture to put in place as much support as possible to keep the motivation and hope alive.  As mentioned previously, setting limits with others and asking/receiving consistent support can be very new and difficult.  Working with a therapist could help you determine the best ways to address these changes with those close to you as well as persevere through the self-doubt and fear when times get tough.  Joining a support group is another great option that will provide you with a sense of community.  Further, witnessing how others succeed or struggle can significantly decrease the isolation this disorder creates.

After the restructuring and reintegrating of the important ‘outside’ components of healing, the final step goes inward.  Redefining is about looking at your self-image.  How have you been talking to yourself and how do you really see yourself?  By becoming more aware of the disorder,  knowing that you are not alone and finding a sense of community are  all tremendously helpful ways in which to develop a greater sense of self-acceptance.

I hope this brief summary of the text inspires you to continue your own education and understanding of ADD or ADHD.  If you do not struggle with it personally, most likely you now someone who does.  Through awareness and support from friends, family, support groups and/or individual therapy; shedding the cloud of secrecy around this disorder can lead to life changing transformation!   

 Check out the book on here.


Mastery of Transformation

How often do you find yourself thinking if I could only change (fill in the blank) about myself, life would be better?  Have you been successful in significantly changing something about yourself or the way you live your life?  The text, ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz, is a summary of the mastery of transformation.   The reward of this life changing knowledge is to transcend the human experience of suffering.  It does not infer that transformation is something that occurs overnight.  Instead, it supports and encourages that when you do fail in following the agreements, it is important to not feel sorry for or judge yourself, but to just keep going.

The First Agreement – Be Impeccable with Your Word

Consider the power your words possess.  They have the ability to create, significantly impact and end every relationship you have.  The use of the word impeccable here addresses how we use the word towards ourselves.  “Impeccable comes from the Latin pecatus, which means ‘sin’.  The im in impeccable means ‘without’, so impeccable means ‘without sin’.   A sin is anything that you do which goes against yourself.  You go against yourself when you judge or blame yourself for anything.  When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.”  When we blame ourselves over and over again, our self-esteem lowers and results in self-rejection.

If you attack someone verbally, you are sending all that negativity to yourself.  Gossip is another form of this we have learned since childhood.  Gossip is our point of view that we are trying to impress upon others to affirm we are right.  This often will just transfer the negativity and judgment we are feeling to those close to us.  Instead, how can you use your words to share your love?  To practice this, you must begin with how you speak to yourself.  Imagine how you would feel at the end of each day if the majority of your thoughts, words and self-talk were based in love and acceptance.

The Second Agreement – Don’t Take Anything Personally

Start by becoming aware of how you take in the words and actions of those around you. What makes certain words or behaviors linger with you versus others?  “You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said.  What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance.  Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about ‘me’.  Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you.  What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.”  Even when someone says something kind to you, do not take it personally.  Why?  Because often we will do anything in our power to prove it to them or ourselves for whatever they gave you praise.  If you are loving to yourself, you will know this about yourself no matter what others have to say.

“When you make it a strong habit not to take anything personally, you avoid many upsets in your life.  Your anger, jealousy, and envy will disappear, and even your sadness will simply disappear if you don’t take things personally.”

The Third Agreement – Don’t Make Assumptions

Again, awareness is key here.  How many times do we take assumptions as fact?  By doing this, it creates the painful cycle of taking it personally, gossiping to others and creating drama and hurt all based on an assumption.  To avoid making assumptions, we must communicate, clarify and be curious instead of rushing to judgment.  It takes vulnerability to ask what someone meant by what they said or why they said it, but doing so will avoid much more headache and heartache down the road.

Another assumption is that the people closest to us should know what we are thinking or feeling and we shouldn’t have to ask or say what we want.  “We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.  We assume that others think the way we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge, and abuse the way we abuse.  And this is why we have a fear of being ourselves around others.  Because we think everyone else will judge us, victimize us, abuse us, and blame us as we do ourselves.”

The Fourth Agreement – Always Do Your Best

This last agreement relates to the above three and your intention of implementing them in your life.  This by no means is intending to encourage you to strive for perfection.  Understandably, the ease in which applying these agreements day to day, minute by minute, will be strongly impacted by your mood, physical health, stress level, etc.  And as you continue to do your best, your best will transform as you deepen your practice of separating yourself from false beliefs and unhealthy influences from others.  “Just do your best- in any circumstance in your life.  It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself.  And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment.  By always doing your best, you will break a spell that you have been under.”


If this book summary inspired you, I encourage you to read the text in it’s entirety and  journal about how implementing it has impacted your life.   Also, in whatever way you can, find a way to remind yourself of these agreements; either by reciting them in the morning, writing it down in your day planner, or post-it note on your mirror.  Making a commitment to applying them and simply trying your best will begin the transformation towards self-acceptance and love.  





5 Tips on How to Simplify Your Life

Simplify-Your-LifeNo matter how much technology has helped us to to accomplish a majority of our communication, shopping, paying of bills, etc. from the comfort of our home or while standing in line for your morning coffee, life has become busier and more attention stimulating than ever.  Below are a few techniques to bring about a sense of calm or peace to your daily life.  Yes, it is another few things to add to your to do list, but they will be so worth it when you are done!


Get organized by creating a plan of attack.  Determine how much time you will need.  If it feels overwhelming, start small, i.e. 10 minutes for one drawer.  Clear out the space, and for each item ask yourself 1) Do I want or need to keep this? 2) If so, where should it be stored?  Grouping like things together is a great way to stay organized and save time frantically searching for things.

Get rid of what you don’t need!  Letting go of belongings can be very hard as often we may think, “Well I don’t need this now, but maybe later or I could give this to my cousin.”  Yet, the clutter that it is creating is ultimately not worth the holding on.  Donating to The Goodwill is a wonderful thing to do.  Collect at least a bag of items and take them to your closest donation center; you will feel great for helping your community and you will not give a second thought to those items again!

Revise your Routine

How much time are you spending getting ready in the morning?  Are you constantly wasting time hunting for things? Organize clothing by color and by work or leisure.  Every six months, go through your closet and anything you haven’t worn since your last clean out; donate.  This creates space for new items and makes opening your closet door a much less overwhelming ordeal!  Also, could your bathroom cabinet use a quick reorganization?  Dispose of old/expired products and experiment with possibly finding new products that can provide multiple benefits, i.e. a tinted moisturizer with SPF, to decrease your prep time.


This can often range from obsessive cleaning to total neglect.  If you live with your family, roommates, etc. spend time creating a clear schedule that everyone can agree upon as fair.  If you live alone, determine which chores give a result that really matters to you.  And regularity always helps, it cuts down on time doing major cleaning jobs as well as negates the nagging voice in your head.  Write it in your calendar (preferably the same day each week) as one hour of cleaning/straightening and blast some music, for the rest of the week you can relax and enjoy your clean home.

Slow the Flow

Do you feel like you are overloaded with information?  The news, our email inbox or a chatty friend can produce sensory overload on a daily basis and often first thing in the morning.  Begin to be selective of what media you take in.  Take ten minutes to go through your inbox and unsubscribe from newsletters or shopping sites.  If you want the information, you can always find it.  Take a TV, Netflix, YouTube  timeout, choosing a day to be media free or an evening cutoff time.

Work life balance

Give perfectionism the boot.  Does this sound like this should be applied to other areas of your life instead of work due to the fact that it is one of the few, if not only, places we are compensated monetarily for our efforts?  Yet, because of this, we may find ourselves dedicating more and more of our time and thoughts in striving towards perfectionism in our work versus high standards.   If it is hard to determine within which belief your expectations lie, ask yourself whether you engage in these perfectionist behaviors:

1) Excessive checking of work; not knowing when to quit

2) Repeating or correcting your work or that of others

3) Constantly seeking reassurance from your coworkers or supervisor

4) Difficulty making decisions

5) Giving up too soon due to anxiety

6) Avoiding tasks because you fear you’ll be inadequate

Being aware of and trying to avoid these patterns will not only increase your efficiency, but your mood and thus the relationship you have with your clients, co-workers and loved ones.   Looking at how these patterns got started or why they might be so hard to break may take some self reflection on issues around self doubt, having a pessimistic outlook or need for control.  Look to those who seem to be more confident yet balanced in their work, surrounding yourself with people who are successful can be a major source of support and guidance.

All in all, simplifying your life does take some time and effort.  Begin with small steps and share your hard work with others.  Enjoy the feelings that will surely arise as you are able to begin life in a more present and grounded way!


The above are just 5 ideas that were simplified & summarized from the book, “The 50 Best Ways to Simplify Your Life”, by Fanning and Mitchener.  Purchase it today to create even more simplicity and zen in your life! 

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

How to Eat Mindfully

Eating mindfully can transform your life in many ways.  It will allow you to truly be present to the meal experience, to honor your authentic hunger and fullness cues as well as enrich the taste of the meal.  Below are the ‘Three A’s”  to begin eating in a more mindful way.


Arriving at food means that you become aware before a meal or snack that food has come into your personal space.  This practice helps you transition from life’s distractions, slow down, and become more mindful before the meal begins.

Prior to eating, take 30 seconds to consider the following in silence:

  • Take a close look at the food- notice colors, shapes and arrangements.
  • Name all the foods you see to yourself.
  • Name all the plants and animals that are represented in the food to yourself.
  • Bring your face close to the food and detect all the odors in the food.  Move your nose above each food and mindfully enjoy the aromas you sense.
  • Think about the human effort it took to get the food to you.  How many people were involved in the production and preparation of the food?
  • Imagine yourself eating each food attentively and on purpose.


Awakening to food means that we pay attention to all aspects of the food.  During your meal, pay particular attention to how fast you’re eating.  It takes about 20 minutes for food to begin to work its way into the blood and change the levels of sugars and other nutrients there.  If you slow down your eating and extend your meal past the digestion point, you will better determine how full you are.

During your eating experience:

  • Insert pauses between bites by putting silverware or remaining food down.
  • Concentrate on the taste of the food and the act of eating.  Simply chew and pay attention.
  • Keep chewing until the food is uniformly smooth.  Use the consistency of the food as a signal to swallow.
  • After you swallow, but before you bring more food to your mouth, rest for a few seconds, thereby inserting a pause into your eating.


Once you are finished eating, be mindful of the other activities that surround food and eating. Putting away the dishes and food as well as cleaning up are opportunities to be attentive.

Take 5-10 minutes of silence to journal the following:

  • Notice how you are feeling physically.  Rate your fullness using the hunger/fullness scale.  How does this compare to how you rated yourself before starting to eat?
  • Notice any thoughts you have about the meal.  Did you eat without judgment?  Are you having guilt or anger about how much you ate?  Do you have an urge to eat more?
  • Notice how satisfied you feel.  What did you enjoy about the food you ate?  What challenges or discomfort did you notice?
  • Express gratitude for the meal, the people you shared the meal with, and the opportunity to honor your body and give it fuel.



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

Creating a Vision Board

This is the artist view of writing out your goals and in many cases far more effective.  Imagine you have the power to create what you want your life to be.  You are creating the story and you have the ability to make anything happen!

This is your vision.  Creating a dream board or vision board is very similar to writing out your goals in life, except a vision invokes more emotion then simply writing out your goals.  This difference adds an interesting element that has proved to be powerful for me and many others. There is however some important factors you don’t want to skip.

Requirements: Have fun!!! This is really important. You are now taking an exciting step towards seeing and feeling the life you want.

  • First Step:  Get a large board like paper. Poster paper is perfect. You will need glue or two sided tape and scissors.

  • Second Step:  You will need lots of different types of magazines. You are going to look for pictures that either show how you want to feel, where you want to go or want you want to have. Go crazy here; really go out on a limb.  Look for pictures that really light you up inside when you look at them.  If you want to travel, cut out pictures of the places you want to go.  You can cut out words or sentences as well. Anything you cut out is great as long as it inspires and motivates you.  If you want to write a book, look for pictures of a computer with someone typing.  If you can’t find the pictures you are looking for in a magazine you can do an image search and find the pictures online and then print.

  • Third Step: Get a picture of yourself you really like, where you are happy and feel good. You are going to paste this in the middle of the board.

  • Fourth Step: In the middle of the vision board on the bottom write in black, “This or something better now manifests for me in divine and appropriate timing” or an affirmation such as ”I Am RENEWED”, “I AM RELAXED”, “I AM CONFIDENT”, “I AM UNSTOPPABLE”, “I AM FOCUSED”, “I AM SELF AWARE”, “I AM CALM”, “I AM ENRICHED”, “I AM PLAYFUL”.

  • Fifth Step: You are now ready to start creating your dream board by pasting your vision (pictures) on the board.

When you have completed the board, there are a few action steps to take.

Essential Action Steps:

  • Put this dream/vision board somewhere you will see it every day.  Spend at least five minutes every morning and five minutes every night before bed looking at your dream board.

  • Take your time and feel the emotion the picture is invoking in you.  Notice the type of colors that are on your board, they should inspire and stimulate your creative center.  Take in the energy you feel when you look at all the wonderful places you will be traveling to.

  • Now…expect these wonderful things or something better to happen in the appropriate time.  Happy 2014!

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

The Ego’s Tricks

Your ego has been hanging out with you for so many years that eventually it’s the only voice you hear.  The ego scalestuffs you into a box where you only feel safe living in fear and playing small.  Therefore, whenever you step outside the box and shine light on the darkness, the ego freaks out and amps up its game.  Remember, the darkness of the ego cannot survive in the light of your inner guide.  So as the light slowly begins to brighten, the ego gets scared and begins pulling out all the stops to put the light out.

Trick One: Dredging Up That Old Fear Talk

One of the ego’s favorite responses to the light is tons of fear talk.  When your healthy voice gets strong, the ego will dredge up any old fear from your past to turn down the light.  Ego will clutch on to fears of people, money, romance, self-image, being alone, you name it.  It will taunt you with warnings like, “this happiness cannot possibly last”, “This relationship is too good to be true”, “You’d better get a job and let go of those entrepreneurial visions”, “Get back together with that guy who hurt you because you might not find someone else.”

Trick Two: Guilt

Choosing to identify with the ego’s backlash always results in feelings of guilt.  You experience this guilt because you’ve turned your back on your healthy voice and chosen the ego’s fearful attack.  Whether you know it or not, you feel as though you’ve committed a crime against your healthy voice by turning your back on it.  Then, unconsciously, these negative thoughts are reflected in nasty feelings and beliefs about yourself.  There is an overarching sense of unworthiness.  The guilty, unworthy feeling then leads you into self-sabotage mode.  The ego will convince you of that because then you’ve denied your healthy voice for a hot second, you’ve lost touch with the light entirely, the journey is over, and now you have no choice but to surrender once again to the ego’s darkness.  Your negative thoughts will escalate, bringing you back down.

For instance, if you do not follow your meal plan 100% and overeat, your ego may say, “Well, you failed.  Your meal plan is over for the day, might as well go for the gusto!” The guilt about slipping on your meal plan can spin into self-sabotage.  To clarify, the guilt is not about not following the meal plan.  Instead, the guilt results from unconsciously denying the peaceful voice of your healthy voice.  Your ego can grab on to the slightest missed step and amplify it further, which takes you further from your healthy voice.

Trick Three: Denial

Left with anxiety and guilt over turning your back on your healthy voice, your only recourse is to return to the ego for help.  The ego makes you think you can be ‘saved’ from this guilt by simply denying it.  In order for the ego to survive, it has to convince you that your healthy voice isn’t real and that you must deny feeling guilty over leaving it behind.  If you address this guilt, you’ll go back to your healthy voice.  Therefore, the ego will start to rationalize your guilt.  For instance, the ego rationalizing about not sticking to the meal plan inevitably leads to getting sucked back into restricting, binging or overeating.  John Assaraf, author of the best-selling book Having It All, breaks the word “rationalize” into two words to get “rational lies”.  The ego is telling you a bunch of rational lies to keep you from staying close to the light.

Trick Four: Attack

Finally, after the ego’s convinced you to deny the guilt of separating from your healthy voice, it will take its tricks one step farther.  The ego takes your guilt and projects it onto others.  This is a cheap trick because instead of looking inward for a sense of relief, the ego turns our guilt toward other people.  This is what is referred to as “magic”.  The ego thinks that if we project our guilt onto others, we’ll magically be free of it by unconsciously placing it outside ourselves.  This is when we go into attack mode. The ego will begin attacking others in an effort to sabotage your happiness.  The ego disguises these attacks as protection.  These attacks are merely projections of your own fears placed on the world in an effort to keep you in the darkness.  In addition, the ego will attack you.  The ego’s perception of you is that you’re unloving and unforgiving.  Therefore, when you bring any kind of loving thoughts into your life, your ego will become ‘suspicious and vicious’ and attack.  This attack will play out with thoughts like, ‘You can’t love your mother, she totally ruined your life.”  You will be made to feel wrong for choosing love because that is not the perception of the ego.  The ego will attack anything and anyone in its effort to avoid the light.

By choosing to think with your healthy voice over your ego, life will begin to get better.  But, the ego will freak out because it knows it cannot survive in the light of your healthy voice.  It will rev up with nasty fear talk.  The fear talk will be uncomfortable and will possibly lead you to act out in some way directed by the ego.  Then that leads to even more discomfort because you are pushing farther away from the healthy voice in favor of the ego.  At this point, the ego knows that the guilt you feel about turning your back on your healthy voice will guide you back to the light.  Therefore the ego makes you deny this feeling of separation from your healthy voice by ‘magically’ projecting your negative feelings onto others.  Then you go into attack mode by placing all of your fears onto others rather than letting your healthy voice clean them up.  The ego makes you attack others with your own fears so that it can keep you stuck in the box of living fearful and small.  The attack keeps the fear story going rather than allowing our healthy voice in for cleanup.  By this point you’re sucked back into the dark hole of the ego and have turned off the flashlight your inner guide would have used to lead you out.

Support for Family & Friends

“What Therapists Do That Is Helpful To My Recovery”

Below are a few responses made by clients in regards to positive support:holding_hands

v They allow all feelings

v They speak in the moment

v They tell the truth without judgment

v They ask specific questions and draw out information

v They don’t assume things

v They acknowledge our fear and our ambivalence regarding getting better

v They know that it takes time

v They validate and acknowledge our experience

v They are not emotionally connected to our behaviors

Examples of specific questions and statements you can ask or make:

v “Is your eating disorder self giving you a hard time right now?”

v “I know part of you sees it that way, but is there another part of you also?”

v “Is your eating disorder voice saying something?”

v “Maybe I can help you not listen to that part.”

v “What would your healthy self say?”

Possible statements made by someone with an eating disorder and suggested responses:

v “I am a vegetarian.”

Instead of: “Being a vegetarian is a form of food restriction that serves your eating disorder,”

Try: “That is your choice.  I would like to help you learn to be a healthy vegetarian.”

v “I don’t want to talk about my binge.”

Instead of: “It is important for you to talk to me about it if I am going to help you.”

Try: “I will accept that, can you tell me why you don’t want to talk about it?”

v “I don’t want to gain weight.”

Instead of: “You have to gain weight to get better.”

Try: “I would like to understand what that would that mean for you, gaining weight.”

(this can help the person discuss the purpose of the low weight and its pros and cons)


Taken from The Eating Disorder Sourcebook