Checking The Facts Of Comparisons In Eating Disorder Recovery
Comparisons are instinctual. It’s part of our human nature to compare things we see and experience, including ourselves. Couple this with a society obsessed with diet culture, appearance, and thinness, and you have a recipe for disaster. How can someone recover from an eating disorder and heal their body image struggles when it’s in our instincts to compare?
Throughout my struggles with anorexia, I have struggled greatly with comparing myself both to others and my past self. When I see another person or an old photo of myself, my first response is to think about how my appearance is worse. I jump to thoughts like:
“That person’s body is so much better than mine.”
“I wish I had her legs.”
“Wow, I could look like that again if I go back to restricting.”
“My body used to be so much better.”
HOLD UP. These thoughts are far from constructive, and they can lead to slips in eating disorder behaviors or even relapse. So, what do we do? How do we reframe comparisons and check the facts so that we don’t get so twisted up in these unhealthy patterns?
One of the most helpful tools for me in beating comparisons is a DBT skill called “check the facts.” This skill is all about separating facts from interpretations so that we can find the reality and truth in a situation. For example, let’s say you’re walking down the street and see someone and have the thought “Wow, their body looks so much better than mine.” The facts of the situation are that you were walking down the street, and you noticed that someone’s body was different than yours. Your interpretation of the situation was that the person’s body was better than yours. By sticking to the facts, you’re able to stay grounded in reality. Yes, that person’s body was different than yours, but that has no bearing on your individual worth.
It’s natural to compare. However, by checking the facts, we’re able to stick with what’s real, instead of falling victim to cognitive distortions. The next time you find yourself having unhealthy thoughts after comparing, try checking the facts and see how it can make a difference in your recovery.
Colleen Werner is a writer, dancer, and future therapist from Long Island, NY. She’s studying Psychology at SUNY Old Westbury and plans on going to graduate school for Mental Health Counseling. She aspires to start an eating disorder treatment program for dancers. Colleen’s experiences in recovery from an eating disorder and anxiety disorder have inspired her to share her story in an effort to help others, end the stigma, and create a sense of community. She is a National Ambassador for Project HEAL, a Campus Editor-at-Large for HuffPost, and a contributor for HerCampus and The Mighty. Colleen’s Instagram, @leenahlovesherself, inspires thousands every day with her posts about authenticity and mental health.