You want to tackle your body image issues, but you fall off the wagon. What causes this? How can you fight the Body Image Bandit and win?
The first thing is to learn to identify what’s really eating at you. Whether you’re battling an eating disorder or compulsive overeating (now called “Binge Eating Disorder”), if you can learn to figure out what’s bothering you at any given time, you will be much more successful. If you’re eating and you’re not hungry, something is going on in your heart, most likely. You’re stuffing your feelings.
Stuffing is for teddy bears and turkeys.
When we stuff our feelings, it makes us much more prone to an addiction or eating disorder.
Many of us don’t even know what our feelings are if we grew up in a dysfunctional household in which the three rules are: 1) Don’t tell 2) Don’t trust, and 3) Don’t feel.
So we lost touch with our feelings and are unable on most occasions to explain how we really feel. And remember, “fine,” “Okay,” or “good” are not feelings. Feelings are divided into six main categories:
Mad Sad Glad Fear Lonely Shame
Since my menopausal memory is slim, I’m thankful that three of the the four main feeling words rhyme! Google “feeling lists” and you will find a lifetime supply of feelings.
I don’t mean to oversimplify when I say to figure out what’s really eating at you. Addictions, eating disroders, and body image issues are much, much more complex than simply figuring out what’s eating at you.
However, most people don’t deal with what’s eating at them all day, every day. Me included. I’m get much better, still need to work on it.
How do you deal with your feelings?
After you identify your true feelings using real feeling words(like the ones on the lists), then share them in a safe place. David in the Psalms frequently told God his feelings. He expressed all four categories of mad, sad, glad and fear. So of course prayer is a great way to express your feelings.
Another safe place is a journal in which you spill your soul. It shouldn’t be a log about what you did on a particular day. Rather, it should contain your true feeling words about your life in that moment.
If you aren’t seeing the mad, sad, glad, fear, lonely and shame feelings expressed in your journal, it is less effective. Safe people like friends, counselors, and spouses (only if you feel safe with them, which many people don’t) are often other safe places.
The purging of feelings is often what we’re trying to do when we attempt to fill the holes in our hearts with food, alcohol, drugs, bingeing, over-shopping, purging, and other addictions. This is why many addictions begin to take root when we experience hardships in our lives.
Believe it or not, getting your true feelings out will help immensely as you battle the Body Image Bandit. The release will help you not to stuff your feelings and as a result, you will be much less likely to act out against your body. Once again, I’m not saying it’s a magic cure in any way. But if you don’t learn to identify your true feelings and get them out in healthy ways, you will continue to overeat, binge, purge, or starve yourself. Remember, you’re not a turkey (although you may feel like one sometimes!) or a teddy bear, so don’t try to fill yourself by stuffing your feelings.
Then you can begin to fight the Body Image Bandit and win.
Time Line: Next week, learn how to identify the point when you really started to act out against your own body and what to do about it.
To learn more about how to tackle the roots of food addiction, read my book, Tooshue: Defeating the Body Image Bandit