So often shame comes with eating disorders. The shame we carry can be from having the eating disorder, or whatever led us to using the eating disorder to cope. Shame is hard to overcome, and in order to do so, working with a therapist is the best way to do so.
As I have been walking through recovery, I have noted many things I (or others) have felt shame for and should not. Here is a short list of things that should never make you feel ashamed:
- Your body. So many people (men and women) spend so much energy on what their body looks like and what they want it to be. We live in a society where certain body shapes are seen as better than others. The truth is, we have been given a body to live in while we are here. That body has 1 billion things it does right that cancels out the 1 thing you think is wrong (looking a certain way). When we begin to respect and focus on what our body can do for us, we become less ashamed of the shape it takes.
- Your crazy family. Everyone has a crazy family. Plain and simple. In fact, everyone thinks their family isn’t normal and everyone else has a normal family. Some people are blessed with having a functional and supportive family, while others have dysfunctional and unsupportive families. No matter how great or terrible they are, we don’t get to choose those we are related to. Whichever side of the line you fall, everyone has family that will drive them up the wall. And in the end, your family does not define you.
- Your past mistakes. Our past does not define us (contrary to popular belief). Our past will shape us in some way, but it does not define who we are and what we should become. Our past is a stepping stone into how we can be the person we really want to be. We can look at our mistakes as something terrible, or a learning curve. When you let go of the mistakes you’ve made, it frees you up to build something stronger as time goes on.
- Enjoying food. So often we hear, “I shouldn’t have eaten that” and “I was so bad this weekend, I ate cake.” With moderation, any type of food is perfectly fine and normal. As I trudged through recovery I found out that I really like food. I like the taste of it, and I like trying to make food and make it taste good. Food is the fuel for our bodies. We have to have it, so why not enjoying it! Nothing says we have to have a messed up relationship with food!
- Crying. For so long, I thought crying was equal to being weak – I thought I wasn’t allowed to cry. There are so many crying-related things you might feel ashamed of—crying in the first place, who you’re crying in front of, what you’re crying about, the fact that you are the ugliest crier on the planet. Crying means you’re human, one who’s in touch with feelings, and one who respects the process of feeling the world around you. And anyone who’s going to judge you harshly for that clearly doesn’t get what being alive is all about.
- Your personality. We are all given a personality that we can’t change. If we want to change it, we are going to live a very unhappy life of trying to be somebody different. Whether you are a loud laugher, a leader, the peace maker, shy, uptight, very laid-back, a perfectionist or analyzer, your personality is yours. We can’t change the core of who we are so never apologize for your personality. Those who don’t like it will accept it or not be near you. Stay true to you.
- Your beliefs. It’s not easy being vegan in a meat-eating group, or being the only religious person in your friends/family circle. Nobody likes to stand out, but you have beliefs for a reason. Your beliefs are what make you who you are. The more you stay true to who you are, the happier you will be in the long run. Staying true to your beliefs doesn’t mean you have to run around and shout them out, but it also means you don’t have to hide what you feel strongly about.
- Liking yourself (your confidence). I’m not sure where the line ends and begins between liking yourself, being confident, conceited or an elitist. What I do know is that you should like who you are at your core. You should not be ashamed to say you are good at your job, athletics, cooking etc. Liking yourself doesn’t mean you’re being conceited when we talk about our accomplishments or stating that we like ourselves. When we like who we are and we are confident, we allow others to love us, and we in turn are able to project that love as well.
- Having a mental illness. Whether you are battling an illness like depression, anxiety, turrets or schizophrenia, it is something you should never feel ashamed about. You would be shocked to know the number of people around you who are hiding what they are going through because of the stigma of mental illnesses. If you are working to care for it, don’t be ashamed that it is there.