Thursday, January 10, 2013

Being vs. Doing

We’re human beings, not human doings!

Our society values productivity and accomplishment. If you grow up in a family (and a culture) that is primarily or solely interested in what you're doing, accomplishing and achieving, you learn to value yourself by being productive; it becomes the basis of self-esteem. 

When others express interest only in your accomplishments, you learn to value yourself only for what you have achieved.  When others dismiss or devalue your feelings, you learn to do the same.  Feelings become frightening and a source of anxiety. Disordered eating is a way of coping with those feelings.  So is staying busy and focused on achievements.

Doing can serve as a distraction from your emotions.  It can take the form of:

*Working all the time
*Going online all the time
*Going to the gym
*Running errands
*Having the TV on all the time
*Going out and seeing friends all the time
*Thinking about what you need to do next/making lists
*Thinking about calories, fat grams, the number on the scale

Being puts you in touch with your emotions.   It looks like this:

*Being alone
*Staying aware of  thoughts and feelings
*Comforting and soothing yourself with words

How do you keep busy?

How did you learn to use “doing” to escape “feeling”?

What happens if you are alone with yourself?

What are you afraid you might think?

What are you afraid you might feel?

When you can "be" with yourself and process any feelings or conflicts you might experience, you are less vulnerable to turning to (or from) food to distract yourself from those uncomfortable states.

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

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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.


  1. Great suggestions! Ilissa Banhazl, MFT Glendora

  2. Ive been reading your posts and listening to your podcasts recently and it's really opening my eyes to why I use my ED behaviors. I can identify with 'doing' stuff to keep myself distracted, like things you mentioned in the post: constantly keeping music on or streaming Netflix while surfing the internet or playing on my phone. I think I must use my ED behaviors in a similar way. I have been learning so much about myself in the past few weeks, thanks so much for your posts and podcasts:)


  3. Krista, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I'm so glad that the blog and podcasts are helping you understand yourself on a deeper level. Best of luck to you and remember, there is always hope!