Friday, December 28, 2012

Guilt Trip? For shame!


"Guilt is a rope that wears thin."
                   -Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

“We need never be ashamed of our tears.” 
                  ― Charles DickensGreat Expectations

Disordered eating can distract you from intolerable emotions and conflicts.  It's easier to focus on food/weight/behavior than to experience difficult thoughts and feelings. Feeling guilty or ashamed for what you’re eating (or not eating) or how much you weigh can be a distraction from a deeper sense of guilt and/or shame about your needs, wants, and core self.

GUILT can be understood as being about something that you did or did not do.  It references behavior and actions.   People feel guilty when they think they’ve done something wrong, or when they choose not to take action.   Guilt sounds like:  “I’ve done something really bad and wrong.”

SHAME is about who you are as a person, your essential character.   It’s not that you’ve done a bad thing, but that there’s something essentially bad about you.  Shame is often associated with secrecy and leads to isolation.Shame sounds like:  “There’s something really bad and wrong with me.”

Understanding your behavior around food (or anything) can help mitigate the feelings about the behavior and make you feel less guilty and shameful.  

Think of something that makes you feel guilt and/or shame.  What is your “crime”?
(ie, “I feel guilty for eating that pizza” or “I feel guilty for wanting ice cream”)

What does the behavior mean about you?
(ie, “I want too much and I have no self-control.  I am completely weak.”)

What is another way of looking at this situation and your behavior? 
(ie, “I have conflicts about wanting more out of life, and that makes me feel needy.  Wanting more is not bad, or shameful, but human.  I will be curious about where in my life I feel deprived, so I don’t turn to food to get “more” or to express my conflict over wanting more out of life by eating more or bingeing and purging, or by restricting.”)

If you feel guilty about eating too much, or restricting, or bingeing and purging, ask yourself what you feel guilty about that has nothing to do with food.   If your guilt is not attached to food/weight, what might you feel guilty about?  

If you feel a pervasive sense of shame, a sense that there is something inherently wrong with you, what is so bad about you?  

What do you imagine is wrong with your character, your basic and essential self?

Where did you learn to relate to yourself this way?  

When you identify and process your core guilt and shame, you’ll be less likely to express those emotions through disordered eating. 

Comments and questions are welcome.  Please share on Facebook and/or Twitter so more people can benefit from the information on this blog.

"Like" me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter

Legal Disclaimer:  The content on this site is for educational and informational purposes only.  It is not intended as psychotherapy or as a substitute for psychotherapy advice, diagnosis or treatment.

No comments: