As someone with a long history of disordered eating I’ve done my fair share of reading on the subject. I’ve not tried EVERY hare-brained diet fad, but I’ve dipped my toe into the nonsensical waters promising wellness, weightloss and recovery more times than I care to remember.
And yet… well, let’s just say I’m the heaviest and least-fit I’ve ever been, and struggling with feelings of self-loathing. I’m a very long way from body neutrality and even further from body acceptance.
It’s been on my mind a lot of late. Once upon a time my ‘Diet Schmiet’ posts were a regular occurrence. They were also introspective and brutally honest. However, this blog has changed over the past 18mths and I’ve been loath to lay myself as bare as I once did.
When I ditched my standalone Diet Schmiet blog I also farewelled the many weightloss and wellness blogs I read / followed. Including those less about dieting and more about self-acceptance. Quite frankly I was tired of reading about that shit. Again and again. Over and over.
Yet last week I came across something via Facebook by Karen Salmansohn on anger, food addiction and the importance of self-forgiveness for recovery. As I’ve been on the self-hatred bandwagon BIG TIME of late, I was interested in what this piece had to say.
Addiction specialists suggest there is power in forgiveness. By asking oneself for forgiveness you’re both owning up to your behavior (very important #obvs) and simultaneously empowering yourself to move on.
In my case, or just as importantly it requires that we move on from that victim mentality which comes from blaming and shaming ourselves; and finally allows us to focus our energies on more constructive and positive thoughts and feelings.
This makes some sense but I’m fairly sure self forgiveness is easier said than done.
Because I’m no longer sure this is where I want to share my innermost thoughts, I won’t go into my own feelings on the matter, but in summary my fury with myself at becoming somebody—rather, someTHING—I never thought I’d become is unrelenting. I rarely notice the frustration simmering away but it pervades my every waking hour. Certainly, I’ve talked in the past about the role anger plays in my overeating and binge-eating.
So, I’ve found some exercises to deal with self forgiveness and am going to try give them a go. I know this all sounds a little self-indulgent but I’m not usually big on the self-help stuff. I’ve relied on a number of therapists in the past to help me deal with some of my fucked-up thinking and that really hasn’t worked particularly well.
So, if you need me I’ll have my head buried in my exercise book in the hope I have some sort of cathartic release of guilt and anger. Or something. 🙂
Without laying yourself bare, can you think of things (big or small) you’d love to forgive yourself for?
For more on self-forgiveness and an example exercise check out this Chopra Well piece.
I’m hooking up with Essentially Jess and her IBOT team today…
I hope the exercise book helps! especially to get back to you draft 🙂 but hurry. I want to hear more about your draft 🙂
Ha! Thanks! x
I had never thought about forgiving myself as a way to overcome that cycle. It makes sense and I hope it helps. Getting over an eating disorder is nuts, it really is. But I did it so you can, it used to really upset me when people would say you can never truly be rid of it. I have been in a really annoying head space lately I can’t get to where I want and feel disappointed with myself. The challenge can seem overwhelming. We can definitely be our own worst enemies. Xx
Very true. It’s good that my disappointment in myself is about more than food and weight for a change though! 😉
Forgiveness is a toughie. I’ve forgiven people who have hurt me madly, yet have never managed to forgive myself. My head space lately has been one of tummy dipping anxiety. I have no idea how to let that one go.
I’m a bit nervous about doing the exercises… not sure if it’ll be a bit of a cop-out for me and I’ll stick to the usual (things in my life that are f*cked for self-inflicted reasons), or if it will be enlightening. *sigh*
Thanks for sharing this. This happens to be a critical piece of my puzzle that is still missing. Will check out several of those links today. Hope the exercises help hon xxxx
Deb I actually struggled to find many (any) self forgiveness exercises online. The one on the Chopra Well thing offers a bit of an indication of what one can do though.
Self forgiveness is hard! So is loving yourself and not being self-critical and not having self-doubts – ALL things I suffer with and struggle with every day. I’m in a bad place with my body at the moment too Deb but I give myself some slack – I’m 51 now, I have some medical conditions that make things hard – and who said I had to be perfect anyway? It’s easy for people to say – love yourself as you are, it’s what is inside that matters and all that jazz but they do not have to live in our bodies. I know how you’re feeling. You don’t want to be skinny – just comfortable and able to feel nice in clothes and buy clothes you actually like even. You want to be able bend and move and have the flexibility in order to do what you want to do. I’m chipping away gently at improving things for myself. I haven’t given up. I know I’ll never be a gung-ho intense exerciser. I’ll find my own way to my *comfortable*. I know you can too! xo
Thanks Min. x
Aww Deb! I want to give you a huge hug. I love this post. Just to let you know, it’s been about a year and a quarter since I recovered from anxiety and depression. Therapy wasn’t a lot of help then either, I hated it. I felt guilty for feeling the way I did. Self-help books actually helped me a lot and I don’t think I’d have had the same recovery rate if I didn’t pick them up. I know it’s different, but I just mean don’t underestimate the help you can get in self-help books. I used to think they were written by people who knew nothing and where just plain stupid, but now I feel the opposite. I really hope they work for you, this one sounds like a keeper.
Thanks Amy. I do have a few I’ve read and appreciated over the years. I like Rick Kausman’s ‘If Not Dieting‘ and some of Geneen Roth’s books on disordered eating etc.
And as a complete aside, I like Stephen King’s book on writing, On Writing…. #logicallynamed
I’ve put on a stack of weight lately and have been beating myself up over it. I’m trying not to but it’s hard. I went for a jog this morning to try and remember how good it feels to do something for myself again. That’s helped.
I haven’t done any exercise for ages Grace and even walking’s giving me shinsplints at my weight. I used to love some of my gym classes and wish I could find that passion again!
I think self-forgiveness is more powerful than anything others can say, any advice, or any forgiveness others can give us – maybe it is the secret. I know you’ve read the self-help stuff, but we can only change from a point of acceptance of where we are now, otherwise we just stay stuck in the same shame spin cycle. I hope the exercises work well for you. If only anger would burn up calories and past pain but it doesn’t so I hope you can let it go. X
I know! If only I used my anger for good instead of, well… eating it!!!!
I agree that self forgiveness is critical for letting all this stuff go, but obviously it’s easier said than done. We all judge ourselves even if we think we don’t, and it’s so damaging. I would suspect that even if you don’t fully believe your forgiveness initially, that it would still have a positive effect. Do it until it becomes a part of who you really are.
Yes, most of the articles I read said it took some practise. Thanks Michelle.
I’ve not thought of it in those terms before but yes, self forgiveness is definitely very powerful. Good luck with your exercise book. I’ve also tried almost every diet fad and have given up! #TeamIBOT
Same Rebecca. I’ve tried them all and succeeded often (briefly). I’ve even tried not-dieting. *sigh*
Oh it’s tough, isn’t it? we’re so hard on ourselves. Nothing anyone can say would be worse than we’ve already said to ourselves.
Very true. Most of us would never talk to others the way we talk to ourselves!
Look, you know me… I’m not one to get all soppy and woo woo on you but I can tell you for sure that You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay kick-started the journey that saved me from a lot of anger and associated crap in my twenties. She talks a lot about forgiveness as well. Some of it is a bit out there, but the central message shook me to the core, and actually changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I’m not trying to be evangelical because I know that there is no one-size magic-bullet that fits everyone, but I found it really *VOMIT ALERT* empowering.
I’ve heard of it before, so will check it out.
A few people tell me I’m always hard on myself. I don’t know if I am or not. I guess I can be and I should forgive myself. I just don’t know if I see it that way – when I’m being hard on myself it’s because I’m not spending time on things I value.
I’m really conscious of my negative self-talk but struggle to prevent it. I do however pull myself up more than I used to. Ages ago I wrote about a meditation / hypnosis recording by Jennifer Polle. She asks listeners to think of a younger person / child in our lives and imagine saying to them to stuff we say to ourselves. Imagine their reaction, how they’d feel etc.
She suggests we think about how we want to protect that person and try to show ourselves the same level of respect and self-care.
I’d forgive myself for lying to myself about being ok when I wasnt
Oh yes and perhaps even others. I’ve not talked about personal stuff in my blog for a while and I guess many of us don’t want to let any ‘cracks’ (or weaknesses) show.
That is not selfish at all! Bury your head and do what you need to do 🙂 There are certain things that I’ve done that I’m not proud of. I can’t forgive myself yet. As soon as those thoughts enter my mind, I push them out at pace. Not healthy, I know, but it works
Ah yes… I can definitely relate. Wonder if it’s time for me to stop though!
I don’t think this sounds self indulgent at all. I think I may need to follow suit.
Today’s the day I’m sitting down to do it Raych. Or tomorrow. 🙂
It’s tough this knowing how to be kind to yourself thing. Thanks for sharing this, I think for me I can be a little gung-hoe (sp?) sometimes and launch into the next thing without taking time to reflect, let go, to forgive. Sometimes I feel like an addict when it comes to that motion, the next time, the bigger thing. So with that in mind, I’m off to read the article you mentioned.
Mine’s usually weight-diet (etc) oriented Melissa… ‘How did I let myself become like this!’ ‘I deserve to be sick / unhealthy etc’ But lately it’s impinging on the rest of my life – in terms of work / freelance writing and writing. ‘I can’t believe you haven’t done BLAH when you have had so much time on your hands. God you’re slack.’ type stuff!
It’s so difficult and it’s a practice. I’ve been on the forgiveness journey for a couple years, and it gets easier.
Oh, thanks… good to know!
I think I’m in a similar place right now. I let my thoughts and emotions derail me in a big way which means I’m now heavier than I’ve probably ever been (I don’t know for sure because I haven’t weighed myself for ages).
Anyway, there’s some work ahead to shed the weight I’ve gained the last few years…
That frustrates me too Satu – knowing that I’m even further away from my goal and losing 15kg will only take me back to my starting weight from previous weight loss efforts!
I’ve been struggling with weight issues for years, tried different (stupid) diets and as I studied the subject thoroughly, I came to agree with one “method” that doesn’t guarantee results : when you eat too much, when you don’t care about your body, it has nothing to do with having no strength, no will, but a lot to do with how we react to things that happen to us. In my case, overeating helps me not looking at problems and focusing on something else. It also helped me accept that since some of my problems don’t originate from me, it’s only natural that I’m trying to find a relief when I can’t do a thing about it. I hate being frustrated, it can really make me very angry, but I don’t like being angry, so I eat because what else can I do ?
I stopped feeling guilty about it (mostly), I get my relief wherever I can, but I also learned that when the pressure comes down, I don’t have to eat/make lists/clean the house frenetically to feel better, I simply can accept, for the time being, whatever it is that I can’t accept at other times. I’m certain I’m not being very clear but it’s hard turning specific facts into a theory without giving away too many details. You know that saying “change what can be changed, accept what can’t be changed”, I don’t always succeed at putting this into practice, but I try and when I succeed, at least I’m feeling better for a while – and it’s a lot better than I’ve ever felt before, so I’ll take it ! I hope those moments will increase as I grow older and stick to that way of thinking 🙂
A lot of the self-acceptance blogs I’ve read and sites supporting people with eating disorders talk about allowing yourself to FEEL the feelings. Accept them and let them wash over you etc.
I’m glad it’s working for you. That’s great!
I’ve always pushed my feelings back, so it’s tough to lose that habit, lol, it’s clingy ! But I’m trying 😉
I completely understand and am exactly the same!
I like some of your introspective posts because I think you express very well what a lot of us fear to say and share. And I completely understand not wanting to lay yourself bare over it. A couple of years ago, I went through a major personal trauma which I haven never blogged about. Other people may not see it as a trauma and encourage me “to get over myself”. However I’ve been writing a blog with a nom de plume and finding it cathartic and healing. For the first time in years, I find myself not thinking of this event as much and I’m happier for it. Yes, it’s part of me, but I’m reclaiming my life back one step at a time.
I considered therapy etc but just can’t bring myself to talk about it with other people so the writing has been perfect therapy and free too!
Oh I didn’t know that Liz. I’m glad you find it useful. In my Diet Schmiet days a lot of people told me they could relate to what I was writing. After 20-odd years of dieting and disordered eating I think I was pretty inured against that world so happy to be blunt about how I was feeling and coping. Of course it helped that I was pretty anonymous for the first year or two of that blog!
Hi Deb, I have finally found your blog again.. The journey you are on is not unfamiliar. I too sought lots of self-forgiveness and all that goes with self-acceptance but there was a barrier…no point doing it if there is little/no self-like. For me, it’s not about the weight (even tho I am still overweight) it’s about me. I’ve done a major amount of inward gazing with guidance and there are two particular (paid) programs which help me. one is ‘happify’ and the other is ‘headspace’. Becoming mindful and meditating daily is helping me slow the negative self talk and to accept the ‘what is’ and how each day brings the ups and days of life. I have struggled with anxiety during the life transition to a new place to live, retirement and so on and it is these, along with good creative pursuits, some outside walking and noticing that have helped me reduce/eliminate it. The answers are always within but my brain blocked my success for some time..finally getting there thanks to the work I am doing. Try googling Jon Kabat Zinn to learn more about mindfulness if any of this sounds interesting. Take care, Denyse
Thanks Denyse… I’ll check it out. I like the phrase you use about your brain blocking out your success. That’s an interesting thought.
It’s extremely hard to find what works. And we are bombarded by fads all over the place. It’s hard to have peace and forgiveness when it feels like we are beaten before we even try again. I’m on my own journey with some of this. I found eating less refined sugar, grains and dairy has so far made a difference in my life since February. I am beating myself up less and enjoying food a lot more! One day at a time I guess.
That sounds like a very sensible approach!!!!