Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Recover from Shame: Value in Postponing



Bewildered, confused and angry about life challenges?  If you have an eating disorder you can be frightened by what seems to be relentless and impossible difficulties that present themselves every day. You may feel shame helplessness and resignation. A solution for you exists.

Everyone, of course, has their share of problem solving to do.  But problem solving tasks are particularly difficult and sometimes impossible to resolve if you are plagued with an eating disorder.

Here’s why.

You have a school deadline for an assignment.  You have a research task to complete for your job.  Your mother wants you to help make dinner for guests.  Your husband wants to take you to a business dinner. Three people ask you to attend different events on the same night.

These situations can send you into an anorexic withdrawal or a bulimic binge purge episode or simply into the ice cream.  You can’t deal with the pressure.

You need knowledge to meet these challenges. Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.”

Yet your eating disorder deprives you of experience.  Every time you act out your eating disorder you are removing yourself from the emotional experience of being present for what is actually happening in the moment.  The moment is happening, but you are not there.  You are eating or raging or crying or purging. You miss the life experience.

When you miss the life experience you can’t learn from it. That leaves you ill equipped to deal with the challenges of life, even rather ordinary challenges.

And that can lead to your feeling afraid and ashamed.

Please know that you, as the person you are, are adequate to life’s challenges.  You are not a failure. You are simply ill prepared and locked into an eating disorder way of life that prevents you from learning.

Any amount of time, even one minute, that you delay acting out your eating disorder you give yourself an opportunity to experience what is happening in life.  The more you can do this the more you can learn from your experiences. That leads to your being able to cope better with your challenges.

The value of postponing your acting out is immeasurable.  Postponing on a regular basis can free you from shame and give you a high quality life you don’t know you are missing.

Joanna Poppink, MFT

Los Angeles psychotherapist

author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder



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