Benevolent smiles in your environment support eating disorder recovery

Barack Obama crawling with Ella Rhodes
Loving, smiling encouragement that reaches your authentic sense of vulnerability and fear can help lead you to your true worth.


Eating disorder thinking sets up a cascade of self doubts, insecurities and anxieties. You feel worthless despite what others may say to support you. You know in your heart you have tricked others into believing you are competent, confident and have value. You need compliments so you know your false facade of worth is intact while you feel worthless to yourself.

Moving toward recovery takes trust and courage. The judgments you make based on your distorted perceptions of yourself are not sound. You need to move through what you dread (change in eating patterns, giving up secrets) to reach a different way of living that you can't see or believe from where you are now.

In this video, created as part of Joseph Campo's work in infant research at UC Berkeley you'll see a baby negotiating something similar to your situation. He knows where he is safe. The baby's perceptions tell him where danger exists. He won't go there. But with encouragement from a trusted and loving figure he will ignore his fears and move through what he considered dangerous to get to a worthwhile prize. For him, the prize is a toy. For you, the prize is your life.

When you are afraid and reluctant to move toward your recovery, imagine a smiling, loving and encouraging face urging you on.

Put people who have these qualities in your life. Seek these faces out in museums, art galleries, magazine, websites and in your day to day encounters with real people. If you look you will find them. Hang pictures and place figures or sculptures in your environment that have such faces.

Give yourself the opportunity to experience a smiling gaze. Let your unconscious take these smiles into your psyche and help nourish your hungry mind and soul.

*pix June 4, 2015 "At the President's insistence, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes brought his daughter Ella by for a visit. As she was crawling around the Oval Office, the President got down on his hands and knees to look her in the eye." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

This image is a work of an employee of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Joanna Poppink, MFT, Los Angeles psychotherapist specializing in eating disorder therapy for adults.

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