In EDA, our aim is balance: a balanced perspective, and a balanced life. We are comfortable with the knowledge that our ideas will grow and expand as we go through life. We strive for progress, not perfection.
We find it helpful to think of balance like the legs of a chair. We need to maintain strength and stability in four areas of life to stay in balance: physical (nutrition/sleep/exercise), mental/intellectual (stimulating/challenging work), emotional/social (strong relationships), and spiritual/purpose-oriented (Higher Power/higher purpose). When any one of these “legs” becomes weak, we are at risk of losing our balance. When we use the tools of recovery – especially Steps Ten through Twelve – on a daily basis to strengthen all four “legs,” we can be at peace with ourselves and others: we are at low risk of imbalance.
Balance is different for each person, but we know we are in balance when we are free from obsession with food, weight, exercise and body image. We take care of ourselves because we know we need to be as alert and well-balanced as possible to be of maximum service to those around us. We eat when hungry, stop when moderately full, and resolutely let go of thoughts that get in the way of what really matters.
Recovery is flexible and resilient. When we have established a solid foundation for recovery through working the Steps of EDA, we are able to do all sorts of things that used to “trigger” our obsessive thinking and eating disordered behavior. We can go anywhere and do anything that normal folks do, without reengaging our eating disorders.
Once we have developed manner of thinking that enables us to live without our eating disorders, we know we need never return to our old, damaging and limiting patterns of thought and behavior. When troubled, we take stock, seek to understand where our thinking has gone awry, make amends where needed, and immediately turn our attention to how we can best serve the greater good and those around us.
We find joy and delight in maintaining our balance every day. It is a pattern for living that works in the long run!
If we have worked the Steps and still find ourselves vulnerable to “triggers,” we usually find we have fallen down on one of two key aspects of the EDA program of recovery: either we have not put service to others ahead of our own interests, or we have not fully relied on our Higher Power or higher purpose to provide the needed guidance and security. When this happens, we usually find that some form of self-concern – self- centered expectations of others, fear of losing what we already have, fear of not getting what we really need, resentment or self-pity – has overwhelmed the peace that comes from reliance on our Higher Power or higher purpose.
When we start to feel ill at ease, we restore balance by putting first things first. We re-establish trust with ourselves, taking responsibility to ensure that our basic needs are met. Taking care of basic needs can feel uncomfortable but it is essential. When hungry, we eat. When angry, we find a safe outlet. When lonely, we reach out. When tired, we sleep. If ashamed, we talk about it. When anxious, we get active: we get in touch with our physical senses, get outside, pray, and/or meditate.
Once our basic needs are addressed, we again pick up the tools of recovery, focusing especially on what we can do each day to be of useful service to our Higher Power, higher purpose and those around us.
It is by working to help others that we maintain perspective and gratitude for what we can do. It is by seeking to contribute to the grand adventure of life that we find joy and meaning. In recovery, we find that all our experiences can serve some good purpose. It works for us. It can work for you, too.