Recovery Journal

A critical part of recovery is doing the work.  Making it happen for you.  You've taken your first steps by admitting you have a problem.  Take a step further by doing these exercises.  They will help you to understand yourself better and take charge of your recovery.  

After doing one of these exercises, go to our Mind and Body section and try one of the mind body exercises - yoga, breathing, meditation.  Then give yourself a break and do the next journal exercise on another day.  Give yourself time to reflect and use that mind and body combination.  It's a powerful combination. 


We strongly advise starting out with the Happiness List regardless.  
And please read our Recovery Commitment.  It will help give you a goal.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: It is important to realize that the information contained in the Recovery Journal.....click here for more.

Exercises

  1. The Happiness List  

  2. Healing the Origins of Eating Disorders*

  3. Healing Movement

  4. The Power of Thought

  5. Letting Go of Fear

  6. Finding Your True Self

  7. Letting Go and Welcoming Your True Self

  8. Connecting to Your Worth

  9. Family Dynamics

  10. Life Map

  11. Collage

  12. Dreams

  13. Eyes of Innocence


The Happiness List - Sarah Mason

I try very hard to stress that we are all individuals with our unique stories and feelings and emotions.  We share commonalties which bond us together and help us support each other.  But it's crucial that we remember the self.  The self comes first.  It must.  And so often those of us suffering with eating disorders have a almost a splitting of the self.  In particular those of us who are bulimic.  Our self splits into two sides, the self and the bulimic self.  And we start to identify solely with that bulimic self.

The two selves represent the extremes of the bulimic pattern - feast or famine.  When you feel the urge to purge, your bulimic self is taking over.  Reacting to being restricted.  The bulimic self is our unhealthy side taking care of our needs in an unhealthy and extreme way.  It's our protector, our defender but in reality, it does not represent who we really are.  

Somehow our self, gets buried.   We lose who we are as defined by our hopes and dreams and desires and needs.  We carry on through our daily lives on auto-pilot.  Doing all the things we are supposed to.  Being good little girls, and boys.  And whenever that unique voice starts crying out to try to express itself and boldly ask for something, our bulimic self takes over.  We revert to that feeling of unworthiness and restriction.  We suppress our needs.  But take care of them secretively and dangerously. 

It is crucial to continue to work toward nurturing the self and bridging that gap between the two selves. 

My first step solution is the Happiness List.  Make a list, of any length, of all the things that make you happy, all the things that you love, that inspire you that you want to be and do.  

As simplistic as this sounds.  It helps.  It reminds us that we have so much more to us than a disease.  And although it's therapeutic to talk about the problems we face, sometimes we've got to take to focus off the misery so that we can remember how rich our lives truly are and can be.    


So grab a paper and pen, or open a word document or email and make that list!

Don't know where to start?  Take a look at our Wall of Happiness for examples.

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Letting Go of Fear - Jennifer Campbell

What is fear exactly?  Is it a pounding heart beat, a frantic binge, a gasp of breath, a frozen stare, a muted cry?  Fear is all of those things and then some. Fear is that underlying wave of anxiety- that fight or flight response. Fear is also, as I have come to know it, an illusion, a haze that seems to conceal life and the truth that resides there.  To say that however is not to diminish the very real and powerful hold that fear seems to have over us.

An eating disorder is a very grand and very graphic display of fear on many levels.  On the surface, fear can seem to only reside in the areas of the physical, fear of food, of weight, of fat…but, when a person looks deeper, it is there that the true fear lies.  Fear of experiencing true happiness, fear of one’s emotions, fear of loving and being loved, fear of one’s true power and it is, and at its most basic state for some, myself included, it is a  fear of living…of being.

Letting go of fear is only possible when a person can embrace faith.  Now, what faith means depends on the individual.  It is up to you to decide what faith is.  For me, faith means trust, trust in my self and in my higher power (God).  Faith for me is about trusting the process of life and knowing that each experience is neither “good” nor “bad”, but an experience, plain and simple.   Now, easier said than done of course.  To live in fear is a learned behavior based on life experience and how one was taught and how one reacts.  For many of us we were never shown the “good” that can lie in a “bad” situation.  All we were shown was that “Oh…this is painful and hard so it must be bad and there is only suffering that can come of it.”  That belief is what instills fear and it is that belief that feeds fear. 

When beginning to face your fear the key things to remember is the need for gentle loving support.  It is helpful to have a support system around you, but the real support and love needs to come from within.  In order to begin to heal and let go of fear, the first step is to identify and understand your fear- its purpose and its lessons.  Here are some questions that can help in uncovering ones fears to then be able to process them.

These are very open-ended questions.  Try not to think too hard when you answer them.  Let it be more “stream of conscious” writing.  Whatever pops into your head, write it.  Try not to analyze or judge your answers.  Each question could be read and interpreted in many different ways… so there is no “right” or “wrong” answers.

Also if you are able, try to stay away from areas regarding food and ED behavior.  Its important to remember that an ED is about deeper issues than the physical symptoms of food and weight.  However, having said that, if that is the area you feel most compelled to look at and begin to understand further, then go for it.  Like I said, there is no right or wrong.

 1. Without thinking too much, write down what I am afraid  of.  
 2. When was my first memory of this fear?  
 3. What was happening in my life at that time?  
 4. What has fear brought to my life? (try to comment on every area, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual)  
 5. What would need to happen for me to be able to let go of my fears?
 6. How can I start to bring in some of the things mentioned in # 5 into my life?
 7. What is the illusion behind my fear?  (I realize this question is very vague, but it is purposely that way.  “Illusion” may mean something different for every person.  What does it mean for you?  Let the answer to this question just flow… try not to analyze.)  
 8. What is the message my fear is sending me? ( ask it- you’ll be surprised at the answers you get Remember, don’t think too hard…let it flow)  
 9. What would happen if I were to release my fears right now?  How would my life change?  What would my feelings be?  
 10. What qualities do I possess or want to posses, which would override my fear?  How could these qualities be nurtured and cultivated?

Draw your fear (use magazine clippings, or paint or markers or objects)…what does it look like (colors size etc.)  Does it speak?  Try to see how much information you can get out of your artist interpretation of your fear.

How was the process of looking at your fear?  Did you uncover any new and interesting thoughts?  I encourage you to begin to look at other emotions (guilt, anger, etc) in the same way.  The more you can understand who you truly are and the more you can begin to see what is truly behind your pain…. It is then that you can let it go and begin to heal.  

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Finding your TRUE SELF - Jennifer Campbell

To live authentically is to live from our core, to honor ourselves completely and to follow our heart.  When we try to live our life by others needs or expectations we are slowly burying and denying our true self.  When our life is lead by “shoulds” instead of the call from our heart, we are living a false life and trying to be something we are not.

How often have you been in a relationship or work environment or social situation that just didn’t feel right, you knew it wasn’t “you” but you continued trudging along…trying to keep others happy, or do the “right thing?”  When we disregard our spirit and true essence so deliberately, we are slowly disconnecting from ourselves.  

When a person is in recovery and trying to heal from anything, in this case an eating disorder, I can not think of anything more important than that of honoring ones TRUE SELF.  What is your true self?  It is your wishes and dreams, your likes and dislikes, those things that you find pure joy in, those things that resonate with you, those things that fill your soul and bring contentment into your life.  You true self is the real you…the “you” you were born to be, minus the expectations of our society and our inner critic.  How do you connect to your TRUE SELF after all these years?  You must dive into your dreams, and open up your heart.  

This exercise is about getting reacquainted with your TRUE SELF.

Part 1

If you could wake up tomorrow and be living your fantasy life, what would it be like?  Let go of all restrictions in this exercise.  Nothing is too extreme.  Let go of words like “practical” and “realistic.”   There is no holding back in this exercise.  Let your heart speak to you.  Let your wishes and deepest dreams come forth.   If your fantasy life includes you living in Paris, writing trashy romance novels and wearing pink fuzzy slippers, than honor that!  Or if your fantasy life includes you being a hermit in the mountains at one with nature, carving wooden figures out of bark...than honor that.

Be as specific as you can…where do you live, what does your home look like, what is your profession, what kind of people do you surround yourself with?   What colors do you surround yourself with, what feelings do you have on a daily basis, what objects are around you?  Do you have pets, certain talents, kids or no kids?  Are you single or married, rich or are you living simply?  Try to get as detailed as possible

What you just wrote, is who you REALLY are, minus the “shoulds” and “can nots”.  All of those fantasies are parts of your true essence shinning true.  Look how marvelous and spectacular you are! That is how you were meant to be, living fully and honoring yourself completely.

Part 2

The next part of this exercise is to try to bring some of your fantasy life into your reality. The important part now is trying to integrate your true self back into its full beauty.  So, looking back over your fantasy life, how can you start bringing some of that life into this one?  If, in your fantasy life you lived in Hawaii, maybe think about bring some pictures and objects that make you think of Hawaii, into your home.  If in your fantasy life you were a singer, maybe start taking voice lessons.   If you lived near a valley of wildflowers, trying keeping fresh flowers in your home as often as possible.  If you wore designer clothing, maybe decide to but yourself a beautiful piece of clothing every month.  The changes can be as dramatic as quitting your job and moving to Europe, or as simple as just filling your home now with things that remind you of Europe.

What is the point of all this you ask?  Well, how can a person be expected to heal when they are living a life that they do not enjoy and feel fulfilled in?  Who wants to be “recovered” when so much of life is still so unpleasant?  When we are in negative or unfulfilling jobs, relationships etc. we need so much energy to just keep from sinking.  How can a person recover when all their energy is going to trying to sustain themselves in these situations?  We need fuel to fight our demons.  That fuel comes in the form of bringing some of our true self back into our life.   So, start as large or as small as you like...bringing your true self back into your consciousness.  Be led by your heart, and your dreams.   You deserve nothing less than pure joy!  Embrace your uniqueness, your inner beauty, your true essence…let yourself go and embrace the YOU that you were meant to be!

 

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Letting Go and Welcoming Your True Self
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Jennifer Campbell

There is a grieving that accompanies the letting go of old behaviors and beliefs. Even in their most difficult and painful nature, these behaviors and beliefs are still part of us, so to let them go can feel like letting go a part of yourself and can leave you full of unanswered questions. 

  1. If I am not bulimic, who am I?
  2. If I don’t believe I need to be perfect, then won’t I be a failure?
  3. If I let go of the need to punish myself, won’t that make me selfish?
  4. If I don’t have an eating disorder, then what?

There are so many questions that come up as we begin to try to change our thinking and begin to heal. What I have found is that there needs to be the ability to grieve for the parts of yourself that you are ready to let go of. Like saying goodbye to a friend, there may be pain attached with her departure, but that is okay. The important thing is to allow yourself to feel the pain and sadness.

I always describe recovery as the death of the “old self”, all those toxic beliefs and masks that we wear, fade away leaving us to, in away, become reborn as the “true self” we were meant to be. The difficulty can arise when we have stripped away all the layers of old and painful feelings, memories, beliefs etc. and are left feeling very naked, without something certain to hold on to. That can be a painful and scary place to be, but at the same time it is an amazing place to be because it’s almost as if you are starting fresh. The decks have been cleared and now your true spirit is ready to flourish.

In this exercise allow yourself to grieve as you say goodbye to the parts of yourself that no longer “fit” you and the person you were meant to be. You may find a lot of sadness or old pains begin to emerge. Be gentle with yourself as you loving let go.

Part I

  1. What parts of my “old self” do I want to let go of?  (By parts, I mean old expectations, feelings, beliefs, behaviors etc.  Whatever is in your life that you feel not longer serves you.)  
  2. What purpose have these things served in my life up until now?  
  3. Am I ready to let these parts go?  If no, what needs to happen before I can let go  
  4. What parts of my “true self” do I want to begin to flourish? (By parts I mean, new feelings, beliefs, behaviors etc.)  
  5. What purpose will these things serve in my life?  
  6. Am I ready to let these parts flourish? If no, what needs to happen before I can?

Part II

Write a goodbye letter to the parts of yourself you are ready to let go of.  Thank them for serving their purpose, but remind them that they are not longer needed.  Reflect on the feelings of saying goodbye.  Allow yourself to just write, without too much thought, about the process of letting go.  Sign the letter and then bury it, burn it, mail it, put it in the ocean...whatever feels most cleansing to you.

Part III

Write a welcome letter to the parts of yourself you are ready to embrace.  Thank them for now entering your life.  Reflect on the feelings of welcoming in new parts of yourself.  Allow yourself to just write, without too much thought, about the process of bringing in parts of your true self.  Sign the letter and mail it to yourself.  Keep it with you to reflect and reread often.  

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Connecting to Your Worth - Jenn Campbell

Each of us is born worthy. It is how we enter the world, as worthy beings. It is only as we grow that our worth for whatever reason slowly gets chipped away. What was once something that was definite and ever present, becomes something based on outer accomplishments and exterior forces. To reclaim one’s worth fully, there needs to be an understanding that worth is not “got”…it is not something you “earn.”

This next exercise is about going back to our childhood, the place where and when our worth was in its full embodiment before our environment or society told us other wise. 

This exercise may seem trivial or unimportant, but it can be VERY powerful.  

Part I

Find a picture of yourself as a child, whatever age you are aware that you still possessed the ever-present self worth that you were born with.  Maybe you were 6 or maybe you have to go back even further to when you were an infant. Take that picture and everyday look into the eyes of you as a child, at that time when you were fully embodying your worth. Allow yourself to FEEL that worth, to experience it. Take in the innocence and purity of YOU as a child.  

Part II

The next part of this exercise is to write a letter to yourself as that child.  Looking at the picture when you were fully connected to how worthy and valuable and precious you are, right a letter expressing that worth to yourself now as an adult.  *Let the words flow, without thinking too hard about it.  Know that whatever is written is what was meant to be! 


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Identifying Anger - Jennifer Campbell


Anger is a natural, healthy emotion that we all experience, but for many people it can be a powerful and overwhelming emotion. For the majority of us, we were never told nor shown by example how to process and express anger in a healthy way. As woman, anger has seemed to be a taboo emotion, one that can not or should not be expressed or acknowledged. Therefore instead of lashing out, we turn our anger inward, imploding on ourselves and turning our anger into self-punishment. Our behaviors, in this case eating disorders, becomes the way in which we try to express or repress our anger. 

In this exercise let’s take a look at anger. Try to not censure your writing or your thoughts.  Allow whatever to come into your head and on to the paper be your truth in this moment. These question are very open-ended and can be interpreted and answered in many different ways. Try not to think to hard about the question.  Let go and allow yourself to just write. 

1.  When I hear the word anger what are the first thoughts that come into my head?
2.  How was anger dealt with in my family?
3.  From what I witnessed or experienced in my childhood, how has that impacted my relationship with anger today? 
4.  Do I find myself expressing or repressing my anger? 
5.  How do I express anger?
6.  How do I repress anger?
7.  How does anger play a part in my eating disorder?
8.  How would I like my relationship with anger to be?
9.  What steps can I take to begin to form a healthy relationship with anger?
10. Reflect on anger and how it has impacted my life. How I feel about it. How I respond to it. How it helps or hurts me in the way I cope with it.

Allow yourself to just write- stream of conscious – without judgment or holding back. Take your time and just let it flow!


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Family Dynamics - Jennifer Campbell

Eating Disorders are a very personal struggle.  However their effects extend beyond the individual, the family is  interwoven into the complicated world of eating disorders as well.
 

I have read and heard many say that the eating disordered person is, in a way, the physical display of the dynamics happening with the family.  This is not about blame or fault however.  It is merely stating the important role that family plays in the recovery and in understanding the issues that reside deep within the root of the eating disorder. 

It is important to note that this is not about pointing the finger at anyone.  Family is not the cause of ones eating disorder, in fact ask any child within a family system and each will have very different experience.   Every person interprets and experiences and feels things on a very personal and unique level.  Therefore, it is not so much as what was done to you, but how you, as a child, interpreted and absorbed your experiences.

These exercises are more about understanding ones emotions, and where they may have stemmed from.  It is about honoring ones feelings exactly as they are experienced, yet knowing now that as adults we have the choice to let go and heal.

Take some time before answering these questions to connect to your “child self” and to HER experience.   

  1. Without thinking too much, write stream of consciousness about the feelings I  recall from childhood. 

  2. What messages where regularly spoken verbally or non-verbally during my childhood? 

  3. How were/are emotions dealt with in my family? 

  4. How was/is the idea of achievement and perfection dealt with in my family? 

  5. How was/is self-care and self-nurturing looked upon in my family? 

  6. What was/ is my role within my family system?  How do I feel about this role? 

  7. From my “child-self”, reflect on the relationship with my mother.  What needs where met or not met etc?  Be aware of what feelings may arise. 

  8. How has my relationship with my mother changed over the years, if at all?  How do I feel about these changes? 

  9. How, if at all, is my eating disorder an issue within my relationship with my mother? 

  10. How would I like my relationship with my mother to be?   

  11. What steps need to be taken (from my part and hers) for my relationship with my mother to be what I wish it to be? 
    *Repeat question 7-11, this time with your relationship to you father. 

  12. Write a letter to your mother from your “child-self.”  Do not censure or think too much about what is being written.  Let whatever is expressed be okay. 
    *Do the letter to you for your father 

  13. Write a letter to you mother now as an adult.  Do not censure or think too much  about what is being written.  Let whatever is expressed be okay. 
    *Do the same latter for your father.

  14. Create a collage that portrays your inner- strength and freedom.  Reflect on your inner strength and ability now to choose to let go and heal. 

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Healing Movement - by Jenn Campbell

Movement is an essential part of our humanness. It keeps us healthy, centered, happy and connected. With an eating disorder, however, movement can become compulsive and lose its healing and positive qualities as we push our bodies beyond their comfort zone, and try to force them into unnatural shapes. We detach from what they truly are which is just a home for our soul, and instead we see our bodies as the enemy that needs to be battled and over thrown. Women especially have come to see the body as a separate entity, something unruly, shameful, and something not to be trusted. It is important that women are able to heal the disconnection between body and soul and allow for the natural power and grace that is inherently feminine to emerge. The female body holds within it tremendous power and beauty. There is a sensuality and a strength that is constant in a women, when she is fully connected to herself on all levels. 

An eating disorder is the greatest form of rejection of the body and of the innate power and wisdom that the body possesses. To disconnect from the body is to disconnect from the Self. To return to the body, and to bring oneself back into balance and harmony means that there must be a reintroduction to the physical body. A person can’t begin to reconnect to their True Self if they are not even able to connect with the vessel (the body) that houses it. Movement is an effective and powerful means to bringing awareness back to the body and is a healing way to begin to find acceptance and peace within one’s own skin. 


I have heard many people say “Well, I workout regularly so I am connecting with my body.” This is true, exercise can be a great way to rejuvenate and really feel the body working. It can help to center the mind and is a healthy addition to any lifestyle. But it is important to notice the reasons behind exercising. If the sole purpose of working out is to be “skinny”, to burn calories and to somehow try to manipulate and go against the bodies natural shape and weight, then it really isn’t serving a positive purpose. Honesty is key in really looking at exercise and the role it plays in your life. As a former compulsive exerciser, I have had to be very real about my reasons for exercise. I tried for a long time to convince myself that the hours spent working myself to exhaustion was for my “health.” “I’m working with my body” was the excuse I used. The truth is that I was working against my body, and my motives were far from “healthy.” Exercise, which for me meant an all consuming obsession full of Stairmasters, stationary bikes, weight rooms and wall to wall mirrors which I used to dissect and critique my body, was a far cry from an activity that supported my recovery. 

Movement is something different than the rigidity of EXERCISE. Movement allows your body to speak to you. It gives your body the opportunity to let its wants  and needs be met. Movement connects you to a very primitive and internal sacredness that is as old as time. It gives you a sense of your body on an intimate level as you become aware of the sensation of movement in relation to yourself in space, thereby helping with body distortion. It connects you to your breath and most importantly brings you joy and a sense of harmony and balance. 

Some ideas for movement work are:

  1. Yoga - There are many styles of yoga all offering benefits.  It’s a good idea to shop around to find a style and a teacher that feels right for you.  (Having experienced first hand, with myself and with clients and students, the powerful changes physically, emotional and spiritually that yoga has help facilitate, I am a firm believer in its gentle healing power.)  See our Mind Body Section for an Intro to Yoga
  2. Dance - Belly dance, African, Modern, Free Form, Hip-Hop - whatever inspires you.   They all help in reconnecting to the body and experiencing freedom. The added benefit of music can offer another level of healing, as music is a powerful way to invoke and attune to ones self.
  3. Walking -  there is nothing simpler than the act of walking, yet its meditative and introspective quality can be centering and healing. By walking in nature you also add another level peacefulness and centering. 
  4. Other forms of movement: jogging, swimming, karate,  etc.   - They are all good.  It is important, however, to tune into your body.  If you feel like you want to jog, ask yourself do I want to jog to connect with myself, to feel alive, because I enjoy it and it feels like it will help me come into a place of peace within my body?  Or are you jogging for an external reason, compulsions or fear?  

    Let your body speak to you what it needs from you, something gentle and relaxing, something invigorating, something grounding, or something fun.  Listen to your body then respond with love and compassion.  

    The journey of finding peace within yourself takes time, allow yourself to MOVE with gentleness and patience as you slowly reconnect to who you were meant to be. 

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The Power of Thought - by Jenn Campbell

In the world of eating disorders it is common to see the world in back and white. “If I am not perfect, I am a failure.” “If I eat one cookie, I might as well eat a box of cookies.” If I am not in total control of my surroundings, I am completely unprotected and out of control.” This dramatic pendulum of thinking keeps a person in a state of Ping-Pong, constantly jumping from on extreme to another. A person is never able to experience a sense of peace because they are always at war with the thick wall of their concrete thoughts.

The goal of healing and recovery is to come into balance. To merge the extremes, and allow for a blending and integration of Self. It can be difficult to try to change such extreme thinking after years of it being the norm. It takes gradual, yet persistent challenging of these thoughts to eventually reverse them.  

It is important to note that thoughts have power. Whatever you think, you create. There is an energy to thought. What you put out into the world is what you will receive. If a person is only thinking negatively it is inevitable that negativity is what they will experience whether it manifest in their relationships, work environment etc. If a person thinks positively, they will inevitably attract positive situations and circumstances. Many people aren’t even aware of the onslaught of negative and back or white thinking that they have running through their mind on a daily basis, much of it is unconscious and habitual. However it does not have to be permanent. 

Our thoughts are our greatest gifts and weapon in recovery. As we consciously start to become aware of the thoughts that pass through our minds, we can begin to gently challenge them, changing our thinking and in a way canceling out the negative energy created by the negative thought. As we begin to blend the black and white thinking, freeing ourselves from the confines of extremes, we can begin to relax enough to center ourselves and begin to learn self-nurturing and self-compassion.

How does one begin to change their thinking? The first and most important piece is awareness and observation. Before something can be changed it needs to be identified. For example, say you eat a cookie you feel guilty and right away your negative and black and white thinking begins “oh no that’s it, I ruined it. I’m gonna gain so much weight now. I screwed up now, might as well forget it and eat the whole damn bag. I am a failure.” To gentle try to challenge that thought would be to, in a way, talk back to that negativity and try to compassionately rationalize what  is going on. “Yes, I had a  cookie. I am not a failure for eating one cookie. It does not mean my whole day is ruined or that I am now going to blow up like a balloon. I deserve to be able to enjoy food, without having to punish myself for it.” 

Or for example say you are late for work “Oh my God, that’s it. I am so incompetent. My boss is going to think I am so irresponsible. How could I be so stupid to let myself get so late?” To challenge that negative thinking would be to say. “Okay so I’m going to be late. In the grand scheme of things being late one day does not mean I am a horrible person or a failure as an employee. This is just one day out of many days. This does not have to ruin my day. Just let it go and move on.” 

The reversal of negative and black and white thinking takes time and work. It takes constant compassion and reinforcement of positive thoughts to override old thought patterns. Would you speak to a friend the way you speak to yourself in your head, in a frantic barrage of negativity? When we change what is going on internally, we can’t help but change what is happening externally. The world we see around us is all based on how we perceive it. You hold the power to change what may seem like a terrible situation, or a failure or a road block, into a learning experience and even a positive situation. By choosing your thoughts and by gently beginning to blend the black and white you can’t help but effect your day to day life, not to mention the day to day life of those you encounter. 

It seems almost too simple, that by changing your thinking you can change your life, but it can happen. By bringing awareness and a desire to experience joy in your life, healing can begin both inside and outside. It is a process and an ongoing one at that, but each of us possess the strength to take responsibility for our thoughts and choose to see the world in a rainbow of colors instead of black and white.
 

 

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Life Map - Jennifer Campbell

Each of us has traveled a unique path with many twists and turns. We all have goals and dreams of what we want our life to be. As we search for what we want our lives to be about, what our heart is asking for, it can be helpful and powerful to do a life map. A life map is a record of where you have been and where you want to go. It is a visual picture of your life.  Making a life map can help to give you a clear picture of what has taken you to this point in your life and  allow you to dream and put on paper what you want in your life from this point on.  


1. The first step in making your life map is to decide what your map will look like. Do you want to use the image of a path with a starting and ending point, or maybe a tree from the roots to the top branches? Whatever image allows you a clear way to map out your life thus far from beginning to now. 

2. The next part of your life map is to sit down are write down the major events of your life starting from birth. Write the significant or perhaps insignificant events that have lead you to this place in your life. 

The next part of this step, if you’d like to continue beyond the present, is to imagine where  you want your life to go from here on. How would you like the rest of your life to look like? 

This is where you can let your heart speak and your imagination guide you. Try to get as specific as possible in terms of all the steps and experiences that will take you to your desired end result. 

3. Now get creative! How would you like to put your life experiences on your map? Do you want to cut our words or pictures from magazines, paint or color, or use photographs as a visual diary? Use your creativity to make your life map as personal and as individualized as possible. 

4. Use your life map as a healing and informative exercise to give you a greater understanding of your own personal journey. Feel free to change and expand on your life map as your goals and dreams change and grow.

 

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Collage - Jennifer Campbell

It can be easy to get caught up in negativity.  With the daily struggles and difficulties of an eating disorder or any life stress, for that matter, it can be hard to remember that there was once a time when life was joyful.  

Think back to your childhood.  Many of us will automatically remember those times in our early years when we experienced pain, or any negative emotion or situation that we have not yet healed.  If you were to look beyond that for just a moment and begin to recall the positive memories of your childhood, it can be an enlightening and healing way to help bring some of that joy back into your life.  

We are all born innocent with a curiosity for life, a vivid and wild imagination, with an openness and a fresh and optimistic outlook.  Where did it go?  It is so important that we recall and begin to embrace the childlike aspects of ourselves for it is that innocence, imagination, and openness that can aid us in the healing process. 

Think back to your childhood, to the memories that bring a smile to your face, that resonant in the deepest part of who you are, that fill you with joy. 

 

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Dreams - Jennifer Campbell

What were your dreams as a child?  What did you want to be when you were little? What ever happened to that dream.  How did you envision yourself as an adult when you were little?  How can you begin to incorporate some of those dreams back into your adult life? 

Often times are dreams from our childhood are really the voice of our souls.  When we reconnect with our childhood dreams, we are reconnecting with the very core of who we are, before we were bombarded by the worlds “should” and the roles we thought we were suppose to play. 

In your journal take some time to reflect on your childhood dreams.  On what you, as a child, wished your adult life to be.  Where have those dreams gone and how can you begin to make those dreams a reality?  

Let yourself just write.  Uncover the joyful memories of your childhood dreams. 

And check out the BFC program for a continuation of this exercise. 

 

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Eyes of Innocence - Jenn Campbell

Children have a constant gleam in their eyes, a constant curiosity and innocence as they look out into the world with wonder and eagerness.  As we grow up it can be easy to develop a narrow view; a view clouded by outside forces and negative beliefs and thought patterns.  

It is time that we wash away those clouds that are preventing us from seeing the world as a child does: with love, with innocence, with joy, with imagination, with amazement. 

 

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***It is important to realize that the information contained in the Recovery Journal is not meant as replacement for proper care from a doctor, therapists, nutritionist, support group, etc.  It is also not advised for individuals who are actively contemplating suicide or are suffering from a severe eating disorder or mental/emotional disorder.  If this describes you, please contact your local crisis hotline and/or seek treatment from a  mental health professional. Minors should consult with a legal guardian or other adult when considering treatment and providers.  Children under 13 years of age must have parental consent to use the resources on this site.  For more information go to Legal Info and Disclaimer.

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Website designed and administered by Sarah Mason. Website Logo and  Graphics Designed by Tahara Hasan. Payson Road was created Copyright © June 2, 2000.  All rights reserved. Copyright © 2005 [Payson Road].  All rights reserved. Revised: November 18, 2005 .

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