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The Strategy That's Helping Me Stop Negative Behaviors


Recovering from self-harm, eating disorders and alcohol abuse can be a weird process — because while it’s not an individual’s fault they struggle with these things, they still have to want to get better in order to stop using the negative behaviors. They have to have some level of desire to give up their “crutch” and replace it with something healthier.

For a while, I didn’t necessarily want to give up my negative behaviors. I wanted to be better, but at the same time I didn’t want to let go of what had become familiar for me. These things had become routine, comfortable, habitual, compulsive even. Not to mention, they existed for a reason — to help me deal with difficult mood swings, anxiety and trauma.

So how have I managed to stop in the past couple of months? The eating disorder required hospitalization a couple of years ago, but the other two behaviors were more recent. I continued to seek therapy and really make an effort to work at the underlying issues (as well as make sure I was on the right medication for bipolar disorder), but additionally, I had to make a contract with myself.

This contract is mostly internal, although on my birthday I decided to get a tattoo with words that were meaningful to me as a means of making it more permanent.

I’m not saying everyone who wants to stop a negative behavior needs to get a tattoo. Not at all. But for anyone who’s struggling, I think it’s important to keep in mind that although your struggle/addiction/eating disorder is not a choice, you can choose to make a contract with yourself to try your hardest to stop a negative behavior. And therapy can truly make a difference; you never need to do it alone.

You may be surprised how much power you have to make your life better. I’m not saying it’s easy — it’s often incredibly hard. I just think sometimes we need to hear someone else believes we can do it. To anyone who is reading this with a similar struggle, whether it be alcohol, self-harm, or negative behaviors surrounding food, you can do this. I believe in you.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.