Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of people with eating disorders. Although every person with an eating disorder is unique, I notice that these folks often share certain personality traits. They tend to be sensitive and creative people who experience life intensely. This can make them susceptible to emotional wounding when life becomes stressful, or when hurtful comments are made by others. Eating disorder behaviours tend to reduce emotional reactivity, relieving anxiety that can feel overwhelming.
Having a sensitive nature can be difficult, yet it is also a gift. Many folks who seek out Body Brave’s services are very creative, with talents in art, music or writing. Their creative gifts can be a source of comfort at times of stress and can also lead to insights in their recovery journey. Eating disorder treatment programs that tap into those wellsprings of creativity can be powerful. Healing from an eating disorder needs to take place at many levels, using a cognitive “left-brain” approach as well as a creative “right brain” approach. Art and music therapy are both wonderful ways of harnessing creative energy to promote healing. Many clients at Body Brave also enjoy journaling or writing poetry as a way of self-expression.
But creativity is not only about producing works of art, creating music or writing a journal. Psychologists have found that creative thinking involves particular neural circuits in the brain. When studying a problem, creative people look for solutions that may not be obvious to others, and they are willing to throw out old strategies to test novel ideas. They have a high tolerance for ambiguity and complexity. People with these abilities can often lead the way to new discoveries in science, innovations in technology and solutions to complex social problems.
At Body Brave, we highlight these gifts of creativity with our clients, helping them re-build a sense of self-esteem that may have been badly damaged by the eating disorder.