Self-Hatred Reversed

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Q & A: Self-Hatred Reversed

Q: I have a wonderful life on the outside and I know I should be happy and content, yet I continue to binge. I must have ice cream or pudding every day. I hate myself for being so weak. What will it take for me to change?

A: One of the saddest symptoms that accompanies an eating disorder is self-hatred. A person who is already struggling with body image, food intake, weight, and emotions needs anything but self-hate. You say that you “should be happy and content.” Why should you? When you binge and punish yourself and call yourself names you’re not cultivating happiness. This doesn’t sound like a very fulfilling existence to me.

When I was in the throes of disordered eating, no matter what was going on for me on the outside (a party, a wedding, a dinner date, etc.) if I was bingeing, dieting, sneak eating, or obsessed with my weight, I was not fully present and I certainly was not at peace. This kind of suffering has nothing to do with “weakness.” In fact, the compulsion to eat sweet, creamy foods is telling us some important things:

  1. You need comfort and have not yet been able to find it in non-food related ways.
  2. You have used food in an attempt to numb and distract yourself from unwanted emotions.
  3. You tend to beat yourself up about your weight, rather than focus on and get support for the problems in your life.
  4. You think in black and white terms. (For example, you think you should have zero pudding, so therefore when you eat it you feel you must punish yourself.)

If any of these ideas seems true, you are not alone and you do have choices. You can listen to your cries for help and try to foster some compassion and loving assistance for yourself. Here are a few questions to write and/or think about:

  • In what ways (other than ice cream and pudding) do you receive sweetness and comfort in your life?
  • How many “safe” people do you have in your life that you can truly trust with your feelings?
  • Are you willing to try a new and more compassionate approach to dealing with your problems?
  • Are you willing to get help with the emotional aspects of this cycle?

By Andrea Wachter, LMFT
Reprinted with permission from Eating Disorders Recovery Today
Winter 2007 Volume 5, Number 1
©2007 Gürze Books

About the Author

Andrea Wachter, LMFT, is a therapist in private practice in Northern CA. Send questions to andrea@got.net with the subject line: EDT Question. Your name will be kept confidential.

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