Monday, January 25, 2021

Welcome your humanity

Osteospermum_Flower_Power_Spider_Purple_2134px  “Some things you must always be unable to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. Not for kudos and not for cash — Just refuse to bear them.” William Faulkner.

Ah, so much of eating disorder behaviors are designed to help you bear the intolerable. Recovery is about building from within so you can bear what needs to be born,and evict what you should never have been required to bear. Faulkner knew this and got the Nobel Prize for literature because he spoke so eloquently about what it means to be human.

If you are steeped in an eating disorder you don’t know or you are ambivalent about what it means for you to be human – a normal, healthy, sane human being.

Your eating disorder distracts you not only from the life around you but also from the life within you. You are self critical. You judge yourself so harshly you withdraw from others because you are afraid to expose your self perceived lack of value. You can hide in your cocoon or you can numb yourself and send yourself out into the world as a body to be exploited.  Either way, you are hiding from life while your life slips away.

Will you lose your teens? Your twenties? Your thirties? How many years will pass with your eating disorder controlling what you feel, how much you feel, what you will do,  where you will go and with whom? I’ve worked in my private practice with women in their 70’s who struggle to emerge from the grip of their eating disorder.

Your eating disorder numbs or taps down your feelings.  The goal is to protect yourself from them.  This is a self-defeating goal that prevents you from being free.

Some feelings you need to be able to bear in order to know what you care about and to be able to function in society.  Some feelings are not to be born but to be confronted honestly so you know when and where you need to take action.

Knowing that the critical voice in your mind is unjust, shaming, dishonors you and is an outrage to your heart and soul is the beginning of loosening the eating disorder grip on your emotions. You don’t have to believe that criticism.

As you begin to doubt your inner criticism you create room in your psyche to hear the authentic voice of your true heart and soul and feel your true feelings.  You reject the negativity that punishes you from within.  With that rejection you also evict the negative feelings you’ve been protecting yourself from for many years.  When they are evicted you no longer need your eating disorder to protect you. You discover and welcome your own humanity.

  1. What feelings do you struggle to bear?
  2. What negative self talk is within you that punishes you and erodes your confidence?
  3. What do you know about shame, outrage, injustice and dishonor?
  4. Do you want to be rescued? What from? What is your fantasy about a rescuer?
  5. Where do you wish you could stand up for yourself?
  6. What do you fear would happen if you did stand up for yourself?

Journal your answers as a way to free yourself from eating disorder control and welcome your own humanity. Learn to reject intolerable burdens and discover your authentic self. Then you no longer need your eating disorder and are free to be the real you.


Joanna Popppink, MFT

Los Angeles psychotherapist and author

book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder




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