Updated: Nov 20, 2020
For the past several months, I’ve been sharing excerpts from the memoir I’m writing, titled Digesting Life. The story of my struggle and recovery from an eating disorder is the basis for what led me to create the KARMA Method, the signature coaching and therapeutic method used by Bespoke Wellness Partners. My hope is that maybe some of these stories will resonate with you or make you more aware of where you are on your specific journey with whatever struggles you may be facing. Today, I want to talk about Acceptance—and what a difference it can make in whatever it is you’re going through.
“I am happy to see you again.” Dr. Stein smiled at me. “How are you doing?” I responded, “Well, as you probably heard, I am not doing that well. I find myself sad a lot and all I do is obsess about working out and regimented eating. It feels like I am going crazy and that I have no one who loves me and cares for me.“
“How does that make you feel, thinking that no one loves you and cares about you?” Dr. Stein commented. “I feel very lonely and sad,” I felt the tears pouring down my cheeks. “I can see that it makes you very sad. I am sorry to hear that you feel that way. Do you really believe that no one loves you or cares about you?” Dr. Stein seemed curious. “My sister might love me and maybe the counselors at the kibbutz and my foster family,” I answered in uncertainty. “So what you are saying is that what you are telling yourself might not be true?” I paused to think about what Dr. Stein just said and I realized that I couldn’t trust what I was telling myself. That terrified me and I felt as if my world was crashing.
“Where did you go Limor?” Dr. Stein asked. I wasn't sure if I could tell her what was really going through my mind, but I decided that I had nothing to lose anymore. “I am realizing that I can’t trust what I think and tell myself and it scares me.” I started to cry and it felt very good to just cry. Dr. Stein didn’t say anything for a few seconds and then said, "We all tend to tell ourselves stories that are not always true and you are very brave to acknowledge that and share that with me. Thank you for trusting me.” I smiled, but the tears kept running down. “I guess my mom also loves me in her own special way…” I wiped the tears and was silent for a few seconds. I felt as if a huge weight came off me and a sense of relief.
For the first time, I actually felt excited to come back to speak with Dr. Stein. Maybe that therapy thing works, after all, I wondered. I left Dr. Stein’s office and headed back to the kibbutz. I was forced to see Dr. Stein twice a week and while it was an hour away from the kibbutz, I started to learn more about myself, and after each session, I hated myself a little less.
The realization that my sadness and insecurities result from what I was telling myself and that what I tell myself might not be all that truly provided me with a sense of hope. The more I shared with my therapist, the more permission I gave myself to eat. I was determined to triumph my disease and was looking forward to graduating and to someday have children.
Allowing yourself to truly feel what it is that you are feeling is a big step on any journey to recovery. After you gain knowledge about your problem (the first step in the KARMA Method), it can be easy to become frustrated about your challenge, where it stems from, and its overwhelming presence in your life. We often confuse thoughts and feelings and in order to understand our feelings, we have to first identify the thoughts that contribute to those feelings. In my personal example, it took a while to let myself feel the sadness I felt because I was too busy trying to manipulate my thoughts. So then what?
Have you ever thought about what it means to “accept” and how to even go about doing it? Acceptance is the second step in my KARMA Method, which is a very important step that we have to go through in order to feel better and more empowered. Feelings… There are SO many feelings—some are negative and some are positive—and dealing with negative feelings can be extremely uncomfortable for some of us. We all have different coping mechanisms that can help us deal with our feelings, but I want to introduce you to a crucial skill that can help change your life and make you feel so much better. Are you ready for that?
How many times do you find yourself feeling something that is so uncomfortable and so excruciating and painful and the result is feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and angry? We often end up being stuck in a cycle of negative feelings that leads to more and more uncomfortable feelings. Let’s take an example of feeling sad and angry about this whole COVID situation that has put so many of us in very uncomfortable situations. How different do you think you would feel if you simply accepted that this is the current situation and there’s not much that you can do about it? In any situation, only with acceptance will you be able to truly grow and change.
Do you often find yourself trying to change things that you have no control over? When we cannot change the situation, the best thing that we can do is to learn to accept it, and the following tips will help you do just that and lead a happier, healthier life.
Tip #1: Learn the benefits of acceptance.
Acceptance has several important benefits including less worry and stress, a more positive attitude, and expending less energy that is wasted on trying to figure things out and changing situations you cannot control. With acceptance, there is a greater ability to appreciate things and be grateful. It is important to understand that when we learn to accept something, it doesn’t mean that we are being passive. It means that we have done the reflection and realize that there’s not much else we can do about it, which can also lead to having compassion and understanding. In my personal example, I had to accept that I was living away from my family and that I grew up around a lot of dysfunction, which contributed to a lot of my problems.
Tip #2: Let go!
The magic question that I always tell my patients to ask themselves is: “Can I do anything to change the situation?” If the answer is no, then they have to let go of whatever it is they’re trying to change. This step can include letting go of past experiences that you are holding onto that are a burden and create stress and anxiety in your life. There is nothing much you can do about your past except reflecting and learning from it, and the best thing that you can do once you have digested the information is to just let it go and focus on things that you actually can do going forward and accomplish.
Tip #3: Learn new coping skills.
Part of the acceptance process is learning to cope with the thoughts and emotions that come along with that. There are tons of simple skills you can practice like redirecting your thoughts to a more positive place that will produce a more positive emotion. Or, even a more simple skill like identifying and naming the emotion can be very helpful and empowering.
Tip #4: Learn psychological flexibility.
While this might sound complicated, all it means is that you have to be able to be more open to different kinds of thoughts and not just attach yourself to thoughts that you are used to. Also, this means that you have to be open to having a range of feelings without trying to suppress them or push them away. Results of various studies demonstrate that the single most important predictor of psychological outcomes was psychological flexibility processes. In other words, the most resilient people you know have a great deal of psychological flexibility.
Tip #5: Write Down Your Thoughts & Observe them
This one sounds super easy, but I promise that it actually works! Let’s try that with one thought. Write down a thought that causes you anxiety or stress on a piece of paper and read it out loud. Take a deep breath and tell yourself to read it again and then fold the paper. Now repeat the following to yourself “For the next 5 minutes (or as long as you choose), I will not think about this…”. In order to do this right, you must accept and practice what you just told yourself. Remember, in order for this to work you will have to practice this for a couple of weeks so go ahead try it and keep a positive attitude!
While these tips sound easy, acceptance isn't ever simple. If you’re looking for additional help, it can never hurt to reach out.
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With much love,