Contact Us

By Jaime Maguire

As someone who has had an eating disorder, I know what it’s like to wake every day facing an internal battle.

Throughout my recovery, I had many relapses.

Early on, I would always tell myself, “this is the last time,” and I wouldn’t tell anyone what I was going through. I didn’t think anyone would understand, and I was afraid of being judged. I would try to forget, and move as far away from the event as humanly possible.

On one of these occasions I had a realization: that I had to own my actions and hold myself accountable for them in order to move forward and escape the cycle I was in. And so, I told someone. This person gave me some invaluable advice...

She told me to sit with how I felt. Observe exactly what I was thinking and feeling. Really think about why I would never want to feel this way again, and remember it.

We are forgetting that it’s actually okay if we are not okay.

The modern world is constantly telling us to “stay positive!”. Through social media platforms we are continuously bombarded with messages of happiness, perfection, and quick fixes to all of our problems. These messages are giving us the false sense that feeling bad is something we should be ‘getting over', something we should just ‘think positive’ about.

We are forgetting that it’s actually okay if we are not okay.

We are going to have bad days. Everyone on the planet is going to have bad days, despite the keyhole view of other people’s lives we may see online. We need to remember this.

For me, acknowledging those days and accepting them is actually something that helps me to move on from them. It gives me the space to reflect on what’s happening for me at that point in time – to sit with the feelings.

Something else I do when I feel those negative self-talk patterns coming on, is give myself permission to take a ‘mental health day.’ Now this doesn’t have to be a whole day, it could be a ‘mental health hour’, or whatever works for you! What I do on these days (or hours) is focus solely on self-care, and do only things that will nourish and nurture me. I let go of all guilt associated with not doing chores or other responsibilities (they can wait).

I allow myself the time to feel bad if that’s what I’m going through, and while this is happening I nurture and nourish myself. I do things like walk in fresh air, have a bath, listen to music, read, or watch something terribly corny on Netflix (Switched at Birth, anyone...?).

Then, we have the next step: forgiveness.

This is something I’ve found a little trickier to figure out. Yes, sitting with those feelings was difficult, but for me it was easier than the next part, where I actually had to forgive myself.

Forgiveness for myself and others is still something I am working on. But it does get easier. Small steps are important; I started by being more gentle with myself. Then I started taking note when negative self-talk patterns would emerge, and finally I was able to start changing those thought patterns to break the cycle.

The takeaway message is this: understand that it’s okay to feel low, to sit with a heavy or dark feeling, and to forgive yourself for those feelings (or actions). It may feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you haven’t explored the idea of self-forgiveness before, but it is an essential part of self-compassion, healing, and moving forward.

Remember that practice only makes us better. Over time, by adopting these new thought patterns of reflection, acceptance, and forgiveness, we will also develop resilience.

Resilience is a big buzz word these days, and sometimes its meaning gets a little lost. The basic Oxford definition of resilience is simply, “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

Being resilient does not mean that we do not face the tough times. We still face them. But, over time, using reflection, acceptance, and forgiveness as daily or even momentary practices, resilience does develop, and we are able to ‘bounce back’ from these times faster and stronger than before.

I’d like to leave you with some thoughts from writer Mark Manson about resilience in relation to emotional diversity, to help put into perspective why it’s so important for us to feel our feelings and practice becoming more resilient:

Researchers think that people who experience a wider range of ... emotions are more resilient in the face of adversity because they’re better at identifying what triggers those emotions. And thus, if you know exactly what’s making you feel the way you feel, it’s a whole lot easier to react appropriately to it.

People who practice a wide range of emotions are self-aware enough to know what triggers these emotions and then act accordingly. This makes them feel more in control of their lives, a huge factor in determining happiness and general well-being.

Showing yourself compassion through acceptance, self-care, and self-forgiveness helps to build up your resilience. Through these methods and actions, you contribute to your own well-being and happiness – and isn’t that exactly what we’re all striving to achieve?

1) Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

2) Photo by Yogui Guter on Unsplash

Jaime is a Clinical Nutritionist (BHSc) from Perth, Western Australia. She was led to study nutritional medicine following her own experience with bulimia, and now focuses on supporting her mental and physical health post recovery. Jaime loves morning rituals and going on adventures.

chevron-downchevron-down-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram