Speaking Shame To Heal Your Body Image And Eating Issues
One of the things that perpetuates eating issues and a battered body image is shame. That slithery, I’m-the-only-one-to-experience-this, there’s-clearly-something-wrong-with-me feeling.
It’s what our hungry inner critic latches onto, excited at the very idea of listing our many supposedly shameful offenses.
Sometimes we eat away this shame. Sometimes we criticize it away. Either way, it usually affects us negatively.
As Brene Brown points out in her excellent book I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy and Power, everyone experiences shame.
Brown defines shame as: “an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.”
Shame comes in all different shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter how big or small the situation. Shame can weigh heavily on us, no matter the magnitude.
One of the ways that we can overcome shame is to talk about it. To get it out.
So, today, I’d like to speak some of my shame. Most, if not all, of these sentences make me cringe. Really cringe. But I’ve realized something interesting: If someone else had committed these supposed offenses, I’d think, That’s OK. This doesn’t make you unworthy or bad. You’re human. You live, you learn.
In other words, I’d understand, and I’d be compassionate. I would let the person know that there’s no reason to beat themselves up about these things. No reason.
So let’s try to do that for ourselves, too.
These are some of the things I’ve felt shame about:
- I’ve felt shame about not knowing certain authors, books and politicians that I should know.
- I’ve felt shame in school when I didn’t know an answer, when I didn’t get perfect grades or when I sang out of tune.
- I’ve felt shame about my body and not being thin or pretty enough.
- I’ve felt shame about my dad’s thick Russian accent in elementary and middle school.
- I’ve felt shame about being an immigrant.
- I’ve felt shame as a little girl when my grandma started counting out her pennies, dimes and quarters to pay for my double brownie scoop at Baskin Robbins and barely had enough.
- I’ve felt shame about bingeing when I was lonely and sad.
- I’ve felt shame about the rolls on my belly and the fat between my thighs.
- I’ve felt shame about making mistakes.
- I’ve felt shame about working from home.
- I’ve felt shame about not making more money.
- I’ve felt shame about being anxious and afraid of oh-so many things.
- I’ve felt shame about not being smarter.
- I’ve felt shame when things don’t come easy to me.
- I’ve felt shame about being me.
The truth is that we’re not perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Talking about these truths brings us together.
Shame thrives in isolation. But shame shrinks as soon as you realize, Really? You, too.
Maybe you can speak your shame by writing it down in your journal or by telling a loved one you trust. And if you choose to keep it to yourself for now, that’s OK, too. Just know that you’re not alone.
** This post was based on a post I published on my personal blog last November.
Tartakovsky, M. (2012). Speaking Shame To Heal Your Body Image And Eating Issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2012/08/speaking-shame-to-heal-your-body-image-and-eating-issues/