Body Image & Recovery

Building the Support Team in Mentoring

Recently I received a question (I answer questions each month via Good News for Eating Disorders Recovery, MentorCONNECT's monthly community ezine) that struck me as one that is particularly relevant for mentoring teams.

Here is the question: I have been seeing my therapist for almost four years and it would devastate me to lose her. I have been able to open up and tell her things I have never ever been able to tell anyone before as I have so much trust in her. She is the first person to ever show me they care. Now I worry about the fact that I could lose her sometime too. I don't think I would be able to open up to anyone else like I am able to with her. I am very afraid of losing her.

My response at the time I first received the question was to simply encourage the writer to focus on building her relationship with her therapist now, and all the while to remember that if she had the skills to build a trust-based connection with one supportive other in her life, she has the skills to do it as needed throughout her recovery journey.

But now it occurs to me that this is just Phase One of learning how to let supportive others into our lives to stay.

In Phase Two, it is time to branch out.

Shannon Cutts

Self Compassion in Mentoring

Recently my mentor sent me an interesting article called Self Compassion: The Most Important Life Skill?

Of course I had to read it right away.

This urgency comes from the fact that I have quite literally lost count over the last few months of the number of folks who have responded to some random comment or other that I have made with the words, "You are too hard on yourself."

I know this.

But somehow being reminded doesn't make it any easier to stop.

I don't know if being too hard on yourself is a learned trait, a genetic trait, or (most likely) some combination thereof.

What I do know is that, once begun, it becomes habit-forming.

Body Image & Recovery

Party in My Head

When I first heard about the APA's (American Psychological Association) Mental Health Blog Party, I thought, "Wha?!?"

A blog party. That part was confusing enough.

About mental health?

And I thought there was bickering in my head about meanings before.


A Mental. Health. Blog. PARTY.

I decided I had to check this out.

I learned that apparently, some folks still don't feel comfortable discussing mental health.

I guess, moving in the circles I do, I find it all too easy to forget this.

Body Image & Recovery

Acting as if

There is an often-quoted Twelve Step principle that I have not paid much attention to....until recently.

Recently, while reading a book my own mentor recommended to me (Marianne Williamson's "A Return to Love") I stumbled across it again (my mentor's a subtle gal, let me tell you!)

"Acting as if."

As Marianne explains it, I am starting to understand the importance of this principle for the first time.

For instance, when we see our fear - of socializing, food, intimacy, growing up, being responsible, whatever it is - we can acknowledge that it is there.

We can say to ourselves, "Wow - I learned something new about me today. I never knew I was so scared (of whatever it is)."

What comes next is the critical mass point. Because we then face a fork in the road. Option A - we can then proceed to wallow in the experience of the fear (I am very, very good at wallowing).

Or Option B - we can "act as if" we are not afraid - now, today - and just go and do, say, or become whatever it is we now know we've been so afraid of.

Body Image & Recovery

The Big Deal About the Smaller Scale

There is a dialogue in Byron Katie's book, "Who Would You Be Without Your Story," that just fascinates me.

She is talking with a gentleman who has arrived at her workshop bearing a particular - and particularly common - issue. Especially in recovery circles.

He doesn't feel good enough. Or enough. Or all of the above.

He is courageous though, and has volunteered to share his story with Katie in front of an audience of hundreds, hopeful that it might help.

The gentleman begins to share, explaining that he simply does not believe he is living up to his full potential. This is Katie's response -

If I'm good at something, I don't give it to the world....I give it to the one in front of me, because I've received it myself. If I have the most sweetheart thing in the world, it's not for everyone. It's for the one in front of me - it's for me first and then you. That's all. That's all that's required. No push, no pull. It's not a grand scale. It's just for this, the one in front of you. That's your job.


She has just described the essence of mentoring, in one short paragraph.

Oh, and summed up the essential existential struggle raging inside my being since, well, birth.

That, I think, was a bonus.

Body Image & Recovery

Who Would You Be Without Your Story

Right now I am reading my way through Byron Katie's "Who Would You Be Without Your Story?"

It is an interesting question.

Who WOULD I be?

This identity I have - as me, with my foibles (uncoordinated, can't cook), hang-ups (socially anxious, too serious), phobias (roaches, knives), talents (music, hopefully writing!), interests (recovery, birds), etc etc etc....

Is it really "me"?

Who is me?

Who am I?

This concept of "us as story" gives me a whole new perspective on these age-old profound questions.

I might be all of the above. None of the above. Somewhere in between. Or nowhere I've ever been before. Or everywhere.


Body Image & Recovery

Impatience, Recovery and Ed

Do you want to know what Ed (for "eating disorder") adores above all things?


Today, I thought I would share an excerpt from a recent letter I received in the hopes it might be helpful for those of you who are having trouble making peace with the pace of your own recovery progress.

The writer shares:

When I was first diagnosed with my eating disorder, I saw people on the unit that told me, "I have been struggling for 3 years .... I have been struggling for 5 years .... I have been struggling for 10 years...."  My first reaction (internally) was, "Heck, that's never going to be ME.

Yet, here I am, nearly 8 years after I first started struggling with eating issues, and I can't help but think to myself, "What on earth HAPPENED??"  I am now "one of them."  So now I’m also struggling with keeping the light at the end of the tunnel in sight.  If I can't keep it shining for myself, if I can't keep it in sight, how else will I EVER recover??  I'm struggling a lot with just wanting to give up.

I know recovery is has to be.  After all, you were entrenched in your Ed for what??  15 years?? I just have trouble acknowledging that it's possible for ME.

Byron Katie says that we will know we are ready to do things differently when we do. I love this. To me, this feels like walking hand in hand with the present moment, knowing in the depths of my being that I am in good company, and that patience is becoming my best friend.

It is so reassuring.

Body Image & Recovery

Loving What Is, Take 2

A few posts ago, a reader named Karl asked a most excellent question about an experience I shared from my attendance last month at Byron Katie's School for the Work.

Here it is, for those of you who may have missed it:

Hi Shannon, one observation about the above post: it seems to me that to say that what is “should be” is an interpretation that is added to reality. For instance, if an earthquake happens and people die, do you just rejoice in it and go, “Great! People are dying!!” Is that loving what is?? It seems to me that loving what is means taking appropriate action when life demands it. Some of BK’s [Byron Katie's] concepts just occur as very confusing for me and I’m trying to understand.

We also had several caring readers post wonderful responses, so just take this for what it may or may not be worth - my 2 cents as a School for the Work rank beginner, and coming simply from remembering Katie's own words on this very subject.

When I arrived at the School, I had no idea what to expect. I had seen Katie speak all of once, for a good solid hour, and was flying in on fumes of fear and hope. I had arrived bearing a particular struggle in tow (as had many of the attendees, I later learned), and was there because - quite frankly - nothing else I had tried to fix it had worked.

Body Image & Recovery

Would You Like My Advice?

Before I attended Byron Katie's The School for the Work last month, if someone had asked me this question, I probably would have responded with a knee-jerk "yes."

After all, it's the polite thing to say.

Even if someone had decided to hand over some unsolicited advice, I probably would have gamely tried it on for size, wriggling and scrunching in whatever way I could to reassure them that their words were both welcome and helpful.

Today, I have a slightly different perspective.

Have you ever stopped to really notice just how often you are handed advice you did not ask for, and do not want, which is not helpful (or often even relevant)?

After attending Byron Katie's School, I began to notice.

In the School, we were taught how to listen.

I mean really LISTEN.

Celebrity Mentors

What to do with the “Shoulds” and “Shouldn’ts”

I don't know about you, but I have a list of "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" that grows longer every day. For instance -

He shouldn't have cut me off on the freeway.
She should be a better listener.
He should pay me more for the work I do.
She should exercise and eat better.

There are plenty more where those came from too.

Until I attended Byron Katie's The School for the Work last month, I thought this list was actually helpful.

I thought it was a useful exercise to re-script the daily activities and choices of others.

I quite naturally - without ever once questioning myself - assumed that if others would only seek out my input, their lives would instantly become so much more productive and enjoyable.

I also assumed that if those around me understood that what they were doing was something they shouldn't be doing, or that what they weren't saying was exactly what they should be saying, then my life would become more productive and enjoyable too.

Neither, I have discovered, is even remotely close to the truth.