It is a delicate dance, being honest with yourself while trying not to beat yourself up. Shame is an integral part in perpetuating cycles of self-defeating behavior. Whenever I have a bad meal or a bad day it takes all my strength and tools not to do a shame spiral. PhD Brené Brown defines shame “as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.” (Shame V. Guilt, http://brenebrown.com/2013/01/14/2013114shame-v-guilt-html/, 1/14/13)
For me it is not just the act of consuming nutrient empty foods in copious amounts it is about the obsessive thinking that happens before and after. First I get the itch. My itch, is a brain that will not shut up about anything. About problems that are not problems, life stressors that I cannot control, or feelings that I want to escape. I have since started developing tools to deal with these issues instead of looking for instant gratification. Before these tools, I had the after, the moment when after I acted on my addiction I shamed myself.
I shamed myself for not keeping my promises, for not doing better. I began to think I was not capable. I began to think that there was no point. I would question my existence. I would go to a very dark place and just not come out. My relationship with food affected all my other relationships. Most importantly my relationship with myself. Although, my life significantly improved after moving into a healthy environment when I was 17, it took me until after college to feel that I had a well-rounded relationship with myself.
Developing a space for love, honesty, acceptance, and forgiveness helps me every day. I have faith that I can make my dreams reality. I believe that I can become my best self. I accept that I am human and making mistakes is an important part of life and learning. It takes practice. I had to learn to be patient. I had to learn to trust my instincts and experiences. I had to look in the mirror or close my eyes and think that I am enough. But these things are not just rituals I did they are rituals I do.
It is important when trying to change yourself to not shame yourself when you fall short. Instead ask yourself why you made the choice you did so that you can figure out the answer and move on with new information for the future. You might learn “something you never knew you never knew” (Menken, A.and Schwartz, S. L.,Colors of the Wind).