These are not linear phases, we tend to experience them as a spiral revisiting them as we continue to learn and grow. You may be anywhere on the continuum, you might skip some entirely or go through them in a different order. There is no set order or length of time for each phases.
At this stage you are likely to have come to a realisation that what you have been doing for possibly quite a long time is no longer working for you. You are looking for something different. You discover a new approach. You have an opportunity to explore, experience, talk about your relationship with food and your body.
You realise that this is not a quick fix and that it challenges many long held beliefs and patterns of behaviour. You may experience resistance to some or all of the concept and principles or to change itself. This can be overt resistance or it may just seem to you that there are many obstacles in your way. You believe that there are valid and concrete reasons why you cannot implement this approach. You may feel rebellious, angry, frustrated, despondent, disinterested or scared.
Doing it like a diet
You start to experiment with this approach, using the tools in your daily life. Many of them are liberating and empowering and you feel positive and hopeful. You transform the actions and tools into rules and stick to them rigidly, you may feel in control. May may be losing weight, which reinforces the idea that you need to keep going as you are. You think of success in terms of following programme as much as possible. When you slip up or don’t do ‘it’ properly you feel guilty or anxious. You may begin to feel that ‘it’ isn’t going to work or that you might not be able to do ‘it’.
Curiosity and Self Awareness
You start to ask questions and become interested what you do and how you do it. You observe your process with curiosity and start to make connections. You pulse in and out of using the tools, sometimes you manage them, sometimes you don’t. You know that you are doing the best you can. You treat yourself with gentleness, compassion and trust. During this stage you may experience the pain or discomfort that you have been pushing away and you may feel fearful and confused. You know that you need support and you find it as well as creating ways to support yourself.
You realise that the process is complex and slow and sometimes painful. You accept that what you do, you do for a good reason, and that it’s ok. By now you have discovered through your own experience that nothing lasts for ever, no feeling is final, no decision set in stone, no dream is binding. You know that you have the tools you need and you trust that as you are ready you will use them. You no longer feel ashamed or guilty of your eating, your body or yourself.
You no longer have to remind yourself to take action and make it happen. This approach has become effortless and instinctive. Your relationship with food not longer feels like a struggle. When you overeat it is a choice and don’t phase you. You are not relying on a body size for your self esteem or happiness. You know how to cope with the difficult moments and the crises. You have made some changes in your life, without waiting to be slim. You feel more confident. You continue to be supported and to support yourself, you may even be supporting others.