You may have seen pictures, or miniature statues of the three wise monkeys. These monkeys date back to 17th century Japanese carvings. Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of Indian Independence Movement who also influenced non-violence and civil rights movements around the world, had a statue of these three monkeys.
The three monkeys are Mizaru (see no evil) covering his eyes, Kikazaru (hear no evil) covering his ears, and Iwazaru (speak no evil) covering his mouth. Sometimes there is a fourth monkey, Shizaru (do no evil) crossing his arms. How do these wise monkeys relate to eating disorders??? Simply stated, in order to be free of your eating disorder, you must block out any negativity or “evil” that your eating disorder tries to impose on you, and replace the negativity with positivity. You must also take action and do the work that is necessary for your recovery.
In order to “see no evil”, you must not compare yourself physically to others. When you have an eating disorder, you are most likely comparing yourself to other people in your daily life, while watching TV, reading magazines, walking through the mall etc. Your eating disorder uses other people as well as your own body image distortion as a means to make you feel bad about yourself. Also, when you look in the mirror or try get dressed, your eating disorder will make you “see evil” by distorting your body image. To avoid it, you may need to choose your clothes in advance (the night before) to hasten the time it takes to get dressed, choose clothes that you feel physically comfortable in (nothing that’s too tight), shower and get dressed in dimmer lighting so that you don’t feel like you are in a dressing room at a clothing store (we all know how awful the lighting is in dressing rooms). Additionally, try to see yourself through the eyes of those who love you. They don’t see the “flaws” that you see. They don’t judge you by your imperfections, like you do. Remember that your eating disorder wants you to see yourself in a negative light so that it can keep control over you. Overall, you need to try to not let your eating disorder distort your vision of yourself.
Your eating disorder tries to fill your mind with vicious, self-critical, false, “evil” thoughts. They may sound like this: “You are disgusting.” “You need to lose weight or your life is worthless.” “You are unlovable because of your body.” “You better not eat that or you will go out of control.” “If you take one bite of that food, you will never stop.” “If you eat that food, it proves that you are weak.” “If you lose me, you will stop caring about yourself.” “If you get better, your life will be miserable.”
You probably hear “evil” thoughts like these, loudly and persistently, every waking moment. You may even dream negative dreams that your eating disorder has concocted. Your eating disorder fills your head with “evil” thoughts and you listen to them because you are scared, and the thoughts sound convincing. In order to recover, you must know that ALL thoughts coming from your eating disorder are FALSE. They are ALL DISTORTIONS. They are ALL designed to make you SICK and keep you SICK. During recovery, you need to first recognize the thoughts that are originating from your eating disorder. You need to differentiate the eating disordered thoughts from any non-eating disordered healthy thoughts. The eating disordered ones may be louder and more persistent and the healthy ones may be quieter and less frequent, but the eating disordered ones will always be FALSE. Once you can differentiate between the two, you must either ignore the eating disordered ones, or challenge them and replace them with positive or neutral thoughts. Ultimately, you need to pump up the volume of your own healthy thoughts and extinguishing the eating disordered “evil” ones.
“Speak no evil” has a few meanings when it comes to your recovery. First, speak no evil about yourself. When you have an eating disorder, you become so used to speaking negatively about yourself; you may not even know you are doing it. It’s automatic. But during recovery, you need to learn how to speak more positively about yourself and your recovery path. For example, let’s say you messed up at work, or got a bad grade on an exam, or put on an article of clothing that doesn’t fit, or said something during an argument that you didn’t mean, or had a slip in recovery. Instead of beating yourself up for it and saying things like “I’m so stupid.” “I’m ugly.” “I’m such a loser.” “I’ll never get it right.” “People hate me,” try saying “I did the best I could.” “These pants need to be put away because I don’t want to wear them and trigger myself.” “I’m working hard on my recovery and it won’t be perfect.” “It’s normal to make mistakes.” “No one’s perfect.”
The second meaning that “speak no evil” has in recovery is when it comes to honesty. People with eating disorders often keep things to themselves or don’t speak honestly to others for fear of displeasing them or not being liked by them. By being dishonest, you are giving your eating disorder strength to be used against you and to reinforce its own evil agenda. The goal is to speak openly and honestly. Honesty is not evil, it is truth…and truth truly sets you free from your eating disorder.
“Do no evil” refers to taking positive recovery action each and every day. Every action that you take that your disorder tells you to take, is self-harming in the short and long term. Your eating disorder ultimately wants to harm you, not help you. Although you may not be capable of acting opposite of every single thing that your eating disorder wants you to do, you can do the very best job you are capable of doing to act in a positive, recovery-focused way. You know better than anyone when you are engaging in eating disordered behaviors and when you are not. Each time you eat a strong meal, you are doing a good job. Each time you reach out for a healthy coping mechanism instead of bingeing, you are doing a good job. Each time you resist purging, you are doing a good job. Each time you do the very best you can do, in any area of recovery, you are doing a good job. Each and every time you do what you need to do to be true to yourself and take care of yourself, you are doing a good job in recovery.
As the wise monkeys say “see no evil”, “hear no evil”, “speak no evil”, and “do no evil”. The translation, simply, and concisely is:
See, listen, speak, and do all that is necessary to live free from your eating disorder and create the life you deserve.Share on Facebook