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June 9, 2017

The Body Acceptance Series Part II: The WIIFM of Healing & Recovery

woman on mountain with sun shining

What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)?

WIIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me”. And it’s most notably referenced in the marketing and selling of a product or service. But in Part II of this Body Acceptance series (click here for Part I), I’m borrowing the WIIFM phrase to explore the deep-seeded reasons why someone seeks healing and recovery. I’m particularly drawing on my presentation last month at the NEDIC conference “Moving Body Acceptance Off Of The Mat & Into The World”.

WIIFM is a marketing approach to highlight the key selling features that will attract consumers to buy what a business is selling. It drives the promotion strategies used. And, if done well, continually focusing on the consumer benefits when advertising brings higher sales.

However, the “buying and selling” of eating disorder treatment is not easily strategized or packaged. Healing and recovery on this front is deeply personal, with umpteenth reasons for seeking it out. There is no cookie cutter approach. But, getting a clear understanding of the reasons why you are starting on the ED recovery path can:

  1. Help articulate your recovery goals and intentions going forward
  2. Be an anchor to what keeps you going, especially when the changes you’re making feel difficult

What am I longing for?

Selling anybody, on anything, is not the way I operate. The resolve to heal has to come personally from within. And no amount of persuasion or marketing tactics is going to sell you on the need/desire for healing.

Instead, when clients start working with us, the suggestion is that they ask themselves why they are here in this stage of their recovery journey. In other words, WIIFM is reframed with questions like these:

  • Where does the eating disorder make life difficult/challenging?
  • What are some negative feelings/experiences that the eating disorder creates?
  • How are these behaviours not serving me at this time?
  • When the eating disorder is no longer a guiding force in my life, what does that look like?
  • Or… what am I longing for?

When participants and I pondered these questions at the NEDIC conference, there was a general consensus that life with an ED is anxiety-provoking, nerve-wrecking, surrounded by so much fear and a feeling of being overpowered by the ED thoughts/behaviours. But, on the other side of that,  might be freedom, personal trust and inner peace. And remembering the personal intention (the longing) at the forefront of the recovery process, is one way to solidify one’s commitment to healing.

From “May I….” to “I am”

Practices such as meditation, reflection and journaling can be effective tools for disrupting the ED. Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) is one type of attention that can guide us from a place of self-loathing to self-compassion. A LKM has the following recited phrases: “May I be safe; may I be healthy, may I be happy and may I live with ease.”  Therefore, it is a hope for healing, recovery, change.

However, if we tap into our heart’s deepest desire and use the yogic practice of Sankalpa, change becomes more imminent.

Sankalpa is Sanskrit for heartfelt intention, a solemn vow, your heart’s deepest desire. It typically has the following characteristics:

  • A personal commitment
  • Affirming, positive
  • Rooted in the present tense

In other words, your heartfelt intention is an anchor for where the recovery process will ultimately take you – realizing your true purpose in life.

Developing your Sankalpa (Heartfelt Intention)

  1. Have a pen and paper handy
  2. Find a quiet place for reflection
  3. Go back to the questions above in the What am I longing for? section.
  4. Pay particular attention to what it is your heart is longing for
  5. Keep your statement brief, something you can easily recall and recite to yourself often
  6. Write it down
  7. Close your eyes and repeat your Sankalpa to yourself several times
  8. Sit for a while and feel how this statement shows up in the body

Crafting your Heartfelt Intention can take some time. Also, it doesn’t have to be perfect. But if you’re struggling to find one that works for you, here are a few examples to get you started:

  • I am…
  • I welcome all impressions as interesting notes of discovery
  • I trust myself

Up next: Michelle will guide you through a Yoga Nidra practice. Stay tuned for this 20 – 30 minute guided relaxation, where we’ll combine all learnings from this 3-part Body Acceptance series.