10 Recovery Mantras
Here are 10 super simple and effective affirmations to remember on the difficult days in recovery.
Repeat as needed. Stick them on your fridge. Tattoo them on your hand. Whatever helps them stick - no judgement here.
1. This feeling will pass
No feeling lasts forever. No pain is unmanageable. However difficult things feel right now, however unbearable the sensations in your body or the thoughts rushing through your mind: it will pass, it always does.
This is a useful one to keep in mind when sitting with difficult feelings after a meal, feeling sad and hopeless, or when trying to resist engaging in an unhelpful behaviour. The difficult feelings always pass. The only thing that risks being permanent is your eating disorder, if you don’t allow yourself to feel what you need to feel.
2. Eat and forget
This one’s courtesy of the wonderful Tabitha Farrar.
It takes work, but recovery is so much easier if you are able to put a meal (or binge) behind you and move on with your day. A food challenge doesn’t really count if it’s followed by compensatory restriction, and regular eating in recovery is made so much harder if each bite is tracked and regulated.
Of course, when you have an eating disorder, food comes with a lot of feelings which can make it difficult to ‘forget’. However, the more you can train yourself to put the last meal behind you, through distraction, cognitive rewiring, or simply repeating this mantra, the easier it will be.
3. Thoughts are not facts
Just because your brain is telling you something, that doesn't mean it's true. In fact, if you have an eating disorder, there's a very good chance it's not true.
Your thoughts aren't you. They're a reflection of the beliefs you hold about yourself, the messages you have internalised, and the forces acting on you in that moment. And they might also be a product of your eating disorder.
It can be helpful to remember this when your thoughts are encouraging disordered behaviours, or when you find yourself getting self-critical. In these moments, it can be useful to check the facts: does this belief align with external evidence? Would you apply it to your best friend?
4. Nothing changes if nothing changes
We often hope for a better future for ourselves, but struggle to make a connection between the acts of today and the possibilities of tomorrow.
The only thing that's going to get you where you want to be is doing the thing that scares you, and doing it today: not tomorrow or next week. Very quickly, days become weeks, weeks becoming months and suddenly time has moved on and you haven't.
Ultimately, change requires action - even if it just starts with one small step. Recovery is made up of small, incremental acts that together grow into a freer and richer life.
5. Different bodies, different paths
In recovery and in life, comparisons won't get you anywhere. What anyone else eats, weighs or does has nothing to do with your journey. We're all different: our bodies are different (and would be even if we all ate and exercised the same) and our life paths and experiences are different. What's right for them won't necessarily be right for you.
Keep your eyes on your own plate, stay focused on your own goals and live life according to your own metrics of success.
6. A full life requires a full recovery
Lots of us get stuck in quasi-recovery: a kind of in-between place, where you're not quite unwell enough to require urgent medical attention but not quite well enough to be truly free. Functioning, maybe. But living your best life? Maybe not.
So long as you're still engaging in disordered behaviours, serving rituals and food rules, or suppressing your natural body weight - you're not living the life you deserve. And you're only one slippery slope away from going back to a place where you really, really don't want to be.
Recovery might feel terrifying. The process may feel exhausting. But trust us when we say that there is no fight more worth fighting.
Full recovery is always possible, and it's always worth it. Don't stop halfway. Keep going. You are so much more than your eating disorder, and you have so much living to do.
7. You've got to nourish to flourish
Beneath all the decisions you make each day is a fundamental choice: to feed your eating disorder, or to nourish the part of yourself that wants to get better. The more you nourish that part, the stronger it becomes.
Just as we need oxygen to breathe, we need food to live. Not just a minimal amount that will get us through from one day to the next, but enough to feel truly nourished. To fuel adventures and share experiences with those we love. To feel truly satisfied, so we're not thinking about food all the time and can get on with our plans and live bigger, richer lives.
Reframing food as nourishment, rather than something to earn or burn, can be a valuable tool in recovery. But nourishment - and recover itself - is about much more than just food. It's about engaging in all the forms of nourishment that make us feel fulfilled and alive: social, mental, spiritual.
You can't live a full life when you're running on empty. Only when we truly nourish ourselves, in all ways, can we flourish.
8. You can't heal what you can't feel
Eating disorders are an excellent coping strategy (until they're not). They keep you numb: protecting and distracting from pain that feels intolerable.
But life lived under anaesthetic isn't really life. Beneath the numbness, the feelings will still be there, the trauma unresolved. To move on, to fully recover, requires letting go of the behaviours and working through the pain.
9. Do something today your future self will thank you for
Recovery is an investment in your future. Probably the best one you'll ever make.
What small step can you take today towards a richer and freer life? It doesn't have to be something big: the smallest of changes can grow into something transformative if you're consistent and don't give up.
10. Remember why you're doing this
Everyone has their own motivations in recovery, whether that's career goals, life ambitions, opportunities, relationships. Whatever yours are: try to keep them in mind when you find yourself slipping backwards. How is this behaviour serving your wider goals? Does it align with your values?