Having motivation for recovery can feel backwards at times. Walking away from what’s familiar to you and stepping into the unknown of what life might look like on the other side is scary.
For so long the “voice” in your head (the eating disorder, the chronic dieter in you, diet culture, inner critic..) has told you everything you need to know regarding food and your body. It’s common to think that you’d be even worse off without it and really out of control.
Many struggle to find motivation for something that can seem like an uphill challenge. The good news is that no one has ever regretted choosing recovery once they’ve reached the other side.
Discovering your motives and recognizing what inspires you to recover is extremely important in keeping your mind and heart focused on the positive that recovery brings! Let’s take a look at what motivation is, all there is to look forward to, and useful tips to keep going.
You Need Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation For Recovery
Motivation is what holds the “why” behind recovering and what drives you to make choices towards healing your relationship with food and your body. It forms your determination and carries the reasons you have for continuing to choose recovery.
Extrinsic motivators come from outside of yourself, like going to your therapy appointment because you want to avoid paying a “no show” fee. Intrinsic motivators come from within, like going to your therapy appointment and engaging in therapy because you want to heal.
You need both types of motivation since your desire to recover will ebb and flow with good days where you can see why recovery is amazing and bad days where it feels so difficult you want to throw in the towel.
You don’t necessarily need motivation to start recovery. Your ambition might be low in the beginning, which is very normal. That’s when you can rely on extrinsic motivation such as following your treatment team so you’re able to stay in college or keep the job you love. Outward reasons can simply steer you in the right direction and anything moving you towards healing is a win.
However, the key to a full, lifelong, and secure recovery is intrinsic motivation. This type of motivation is deeply rooted inside of you, where you’re making the choice to recover because you want to fight for YOU.
Intrinsic motivation results in wanting to live in agreement with your values, which then builds you up to do whatever you can to achieve long lasting recovery, even when it gets tough. You truly know that your goals are only possible when you’re free from the bondage.
Having a list of reasons to recover serves as a constant reminder of the wonderful benefits recovery brings to you!
Reasons to Choose Recovery
Food is enjoyed without worry, fear, or guilt. You can order a meal off a menu that genuinely sounds good to you in the moment.
The medical problems eating disorders and disordered eating cause such as a weakened heart, gastrointestinal issues, and disturbed hormone levels are majorly resolved. Your body functions at its best again.
Your energy levels increase, you’re less fatigued, and you sleep better at night because you’re nourishing your body AND mind.
You can focus during school or work because the obsessive thoughts about food, body, and weight no longer take over your brain space.
Relationships in your life become more authentic because you have the ability to be present with the people surrounding you.
The future feels more exciting to you because you can see all that you’re able to accomplish and become without food and body troubles holding you back.
You’re interested in connecting with people and having fun at social events, like family gatherings or parties, because you care about the purpose of the event MORE than the food at the event.
Simple hobbies make their way back into your life because your free time is no longer wasted on unhealthy behaviors.
You recognize your worth and discover what makes you YOU.
Exercise now means moving your body in ways that feel good. Movement is more rejuvenating than exhausting.
You take part in the “little things” with joy like licking the spoon after serving ice cream or happily accepting a yummy latté your coworker surprised you with.
The number on the clothing tag doesn’t control your mood for the day. You get dressed and move on!
Your overall quality of life improves!
You’ll have moments in recovery where you’ll stop and take in the fact that you’re doing what you never thought was possible. As you experience more of what recovery so beautifully has to offer, it’s reassurance that the hard work is worth it.
Tips for When the Going Gets Tough
Put Your Trust in Others
When it’s difficult to see the worth you hold and the value you have, it’s helpful to rely on those you trust and love. Trust their judgement above your own in this case, believing that your brain will catch up soon with time.
Use Personal Statements to Motivate You
During an overwhelming moment or day speak supportive statements out loud. Stop, center yourself, take a deep breath, and say “Just for today I’m going to choose recovery, feed my body, and treat it kindly. Just for today.” This is useful in taking recovery one day at a time. Repeat this statement to yourself as often as you need to.
Write a Letter to Your Future Self
Write a letter for your future self to read when you need an extra dose of strength. Include a list of the reasons you have to recover and what your future self would like to hear if urges arise. For example, “I know you feel like restricting right now but remember that restriction will push you further away from your goals.” When the time comes, pull out your letter and read it to get you through.
You’ll never know what recovery truly has to offer unless you try.
Understanding what motivates you is vital for recovery and living a life that you value, filled with purpose and meaning. Take what you’ve learned in this post and put it into action. Use extrinsic motivators if you can’t muster the intrinsic motivation just yet. Think about what you want your life to look like and keep moving towards freedom!
If you’re looking for someone to walk alongside you in finding motivation for recovery, send me a note, I’d love to chat! While you’re at it, share this post with a friend in recovery too. Lifting each other up goes a long way!