NEDA walk in Denver

NEDA walk in Denver
Hello, Dr. Anita Johnson here. I am at the NEDA walk in Denver, which is an amazing event for people who are struggling, and family and friends, to come and celebrate, share recovery stories, encourage each other, and support each other. Thank you for joining me here at the NEDA walk in Denver.

I first want to express what an honor it is to be here. NEDA is an amazing organization. You are amazing people because by showing up here today, you are NEDA. I’m honored because I get to do what I like to do more than anything else in the world, which is talk to people and tell them, “People get better. Recovery is possible.” I’ve been in the field a long time. I know of thousands, truly thousands who have done so. I get emails and letters from around the world. I meet former clients of mine all the time. It is absolutely totally possible to recover.

What I want to share with you is just a little metaphor I shared a long time ago with a client of mine who was EDA What was involved and how could she possibly do it? It calls for a little bit of an imagination, because recovery begins with imagining recovery in the first place.

I want you to imagine. Imagine that you are on the banks of a raging river. It is pouring down rain. You slip and fall in. And you’re drowning. You’re getting pulled down through the rapids. Along comes a big log and you grab on. The log saves your life. It keeps your head above water when surely you would have drowned. Eventually, it carries you to a place […]

Letting Go

It’s Dr. Anita Johnston here. I’m in Denver, Colorado. It’s fall here and I find myself looking at the trees, watching the leaves as they drop any time the wind blows – even just a little bit. I start to think about how nature has so much to tell us about Letting Go. This is something that seems to be really hard for us when we have feelings that come up — we can get stuck. We get stuck in the feelings and think that there is no way out.

The idea of trying to let go is kind of a mystery.

Exactly how do you let go?

How do you let go of uncomfortable, painful, or scary feelings?

First, you have to realize that you can’t really let go of them. They have their own natural flow, and they will let go of you. But you have to get behind the feeling, you have to get beneath the feeling, to the sensation that you first experienced — which comes even before the feeling. Sometimes, that might be a contraction in your belly, or the warmth that spreads through your body, or a little tickle in the back of your neck.

After the initial experience of the sensation, what happens is we attach a story to that sensation and we give it meaning.

Here’s the thing: You can’t let go of the story, either. But, if you investigate the story, if you look at the story, the story will let go of you. How does that work? First of all, you have to recognize that there is a story, and not only that, you’re the story keeper, and you’re the storyteller.

Angeles Arrien, once described a tribe that […]

The Mirror and Assertiveness

Hello, Dr. Anita Johnston here. I’m here on Maui, the island of Maui, at Ai Pono Maui, which is our residential treatment center. I wanted to share with you a really inspiring talk that we had today in our group.

I talk a lot about a type of communication, Assertiveness, and how important that is to the process of recovery — how important it is in order to really being free from struggles with food and fat. And eating. And all of that.

But there’s another piece that goes hand and glove with the assertive formula, the assertive form of communicating, and that’s the mirror.

And once you start to get the handle of assertive communication sooner or later you’re going to come up against the mirror. The mirror is this: Whenever we feel a strong emotional charge, that’s when we know the mirror is operating. Now, if it’s a strong positive charge — like when you fall in love — all those qualities that you see in the other person that are so attractive, are actually qualities within yourself that maybe you haven’t ever really identified or acknowledged, or appreciated, or cultivated or developed.

When it is mutual, when the love is mutual, you get a double mirror effect. So, not only do you get to see in the other person all those positive qualities that you have yet to develop, but you also get to see through their eyes, the positive qualities that you already have developed. That’s what’s happening when you have a positive emotional charge.

That’s what it looks like in the mirror.

Now, when there’s a strong negative charge, what’s going on is that person is reflecting back to you aspects of yourself, […]

Understanding How Important the Sense of Belonging Really Is


Hello, Dr. Anita Johnston again. And I’m here on the Big Island of Hawaii. And what is behind me that you can’t see (because the fog is rolling in) is Kamalala.  I am at the site of our new intensive outpatient program for ‘Ai Pono that we’re getting ready to launch.

I’ve been here meeting with the team and everyone’s been getting to know each other. The thing that really came up as the theme of our meeting was this whole sense of connection.  And even more than that, a deep sense of belonging.
Understanding How Important the Sense of Belonging Really Is
The thing that really came up as the theme of our meeting was this whole sense of connection.  And even more than that, a deep sense of belonging. Because when you meet the people that are your Tribe, what comes into mind is an understanding of how important that sense of belonging really is.  You feel it. You know it. I think one of the things that happens to most of us is we all hunger for a sense of belonging. I think that’s one of the deepest longings that any of us have — to feel that deep, deep sense of connection.

What happens, mostly because of the culture we grew up in, is we’re really not taught the difference between belonging and fitting in. We feel the hunger for belonging but we confuse that with fitting in.  A sense of belonging comes when you stay connected to your authentic self, the uniqueness of your very being. We are all as unique as our thumbprints. There’s never been another Anita on the planet like me. And there never will be. And that’s the same for […]