Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
International Eating Disorder Referral Organization
Why Do I Hate My Body?
by Rachel Quast, M.A., CPT
Not only do the unmet needs lead to the use of binging, restricting, purging and compulsive exercise, but they also lead to a broken relationship with yourself and your body. Early hurts often turn the child inward, wondering what she or he did wrong, if she or he is loved or wanted, etc. With the developmental stage the child is in, pain is often internalized. For example, if a mother continually criticizes the child, she may believe she is inherently wrong. Such a belief breaks the relationship with oneís self. How can a person connect, praise and approve of oneís self if she believes she is flawed, at the core? She doesnít. Due to such a belief, she will develop patterns to prevent connecting with oneself. In time, the girl grows more distant from herself, leaving a void and a longing to have purpose, self-connection and approval.
It is important to find out which needs may have lead to a
disconnection with yourself. It is within this disconnection that the eating
disorder behaviors and distorted body image lie. The belief of being
inherently wrong is painful and too hard to embrace. The emptiness from the
loss of self creates excruciating pain and grief. Such feelings, if embraced
as reality, are too much for any human to live with. Therefore, the feelings
are displaced onto the eating disorder and body. Rather than believe that
oneís identity isnít good enough, a person switches focus, and chooses to
believe it is her body that isnít thin enough or muscular enough. That girl
will make her feelings about her identity to be about her body.
Though the belief is also painful, it feels more manageable
because the body, as society indoctrinate us, can and "should" be changed.
It is a tangible thing, whereas a "broken" (though no one is truly broken)
self feels unmanageable. Who can fix something inherently wrong? That belief
sets a person up for feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness. Therefore,
that person turns over these feelings to the body. This is what sets up the
perpetual struggle with oneís body shape and appearance. The body provides a
reliable, safe place to displace re-occurring feelings. A person can scream,
express anger and hurt at one's body and it doesn't tell you to shut up or
abandon you, like caregivers may have.
Unfortunately, these feelings which occur in present time
and from the past unmet needs never leave. Feeling powerless, hopeless or
inadequate over oneís body can never fix the initial hurts. Contrary to what
most believe, fixing oneís body will never take away those feelings either.
Why? The body cannot heal the soul! The two are on totally separate planes.
Itís like asking your car mechanic to write you a prescription for eye
glasses. No matter what prescription she or he writes, no matter how many
times you yell at the mechanic for not writing a better prescription, he
does not have the knowledge nor degree to do so. Your body does not have
access to the spiritual realm to mend this lie about yourself. Instead, what
will happen is you will continue to feel inherently wrong, no matter how
your body looks. It will feel like the changes are not enough because
inside, you feel like you are not enough. The hate for your body remains as
a distraction and scapegoat for feelings about you!
Review the emotional needs listed below:
Safety: We need to feel safe within the group/family unit, knowing others will not purposefully harm us, physically, emotionally or spiritually. Their beliefs and opinions are not forced upon us because our boundaries are respected. We donít need to be on guard within the group/family unit. It is a place of refuge.
Control: We need to know our voice matters and has a healthy influence on the group members/family members. We need to be encouraged to develop and use our own voice, even when it may differ from the groupís opinion.
Independence: We are not expected to think, act or believe a certain way in order to be a part of the group/family unit. We are encouraged to be ourselves, as our uniqueness brings an asset and diversity to the group/family unit which no one else could bring. We are encouraged to continue self-discoveries about ourselves. If relationships change, whether people become more or less close, that does not threaten group members/family members, as they know, each person is ultimately responsible for him or herself.
Trust: We need to trust others will keep our intimate conversations confidential. We need to be able to trust others will act in our best interest, and will not do or say things just to create hurt or harm. We need to be able to trust others so much that we can hear the truth about ourselves, even if it hurtsÖand vice versa, we need to be able to tell others the truth about them, if it will help them from endangering themselves or others.
Esteem: We are seen as valuable, worthy and serve a healthy purpose within the group/family unit.
Intimacy: Despite your insecurities, mistakes & flaws, we are loved and accepted anyway. People know your strengths and weaknesses, and still want to spend quality time with you. You receive non-sexual touch (affection) like hugs and pats on the back.
Create several columns. In one column, write how your needs were not met in the past. In the second column, write how your needs are currently not being met. In the third column, write how you are attempting to meet each need through fixing your body. In the last column, write how you are creating (or not creating) safety, control, independence, trust, esteem and intimacy between you and your physical body. Compare the lists. Do you notice how your body has become the scapegoat for your unmet needs? Do you feel the same about your body that you did in your past or presently do about yourself? Has your physical body or physical needs been damaged or neglected, causing you to treat your body in the same way?
Looking at how your needs were broken as a child and
presently helps you understand how your experiences influenced you to
believe lies about yourself. Once you understand the source of these lies,
you can work through them. Allow the feelings to be discharged outside of
you; then, the body does not need to contain them. When you change the way
you think about who you are, the way you view your body will automatically
Many blessings to you and those you work with,
Rachel Quast, M.A., CPT
SHED founder & president
SHED (Self-Healing through Education)
Eating Disorder/Obesity/Wellness Speaker & Counselor
The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author and are presented without editing. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of EDReferral.com, and no official endorsement by EDReferral.com of the opinions expressed herein should be inferred.
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