Smiles of encouragement are essential in building self-respect, self-worth and self-confidence. Eating disorder thinking sets up a cascade of self-doubts, insecurities and anxieties. You feel worthless despite what others may say to support you.
You know in your heart you have tricked others into believing you are competent, confident and have value. You need compliments so you know your false facade of worth is intact while you feel worthless to yourself.
Moving toward recovery requires you to develop the ability to tap into your personal courage and determine who or what is trustworthy. Judgments you make based on your distorted perceptions of yourself are not sound. You need to move through what you dread (change in eating patterns, giving up secrets) to reach a different way of living that you can't see or believe from where you are now.
In this video, created as part of Joseph Campo's trust walk work in infant research at UC Berkeley you'll see a baby negotiating something similar to your situation. He knows where he is safe.
The baby's perceptions tell him where danger exists. He won't go there. But with encouragement from a trusted and loving figure he will ignore his fears and move through what he considered dangerous to get to a worthwhile prize. For him, the prize is a toy. For you, the prize is your life.
When you are afraid and reluctant to move toward your recovery, imagine a smiling, loving and encouraging face urging you on.
As part of your work in overcoming eating disorders put people in your life who are encouraging and who bring you smiles. Seek out smiling and encouraging face in museums, art galleries, magazine, websites and in your day-to-day encounters with real people. If you look you will find them. Hang pictures and place figures or sculptures in your environment that smile at you and each other.
Give yourself the opportunity to experience a smiling gaze. Let your unconscious take these smiles into your psyche and help nourish your hungry mind and soul.
Written by Joanna Poppink, MFT. Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disorder recovery, stress, PTSD, and adult development.
She is licensed in CA, AZ, OR, FL, and UT. Author of the Book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder
Appointments are virtual.
For a free telephone consultation, e-mail her at