4 Ways to Stop Using Your Body as an Emotional Scapegoat
By Z Zoccolante
(Listen to audio of this post in the blue box below)
No matter who we are, the body often serves a favorite scapegoat for our emotional turmoil. We don’t have to be diagnosed with an eating disorder or have disordered eating habits. All it takes to qualify is having a body.
When I was going through years of eating disordered chaos, and body disgust, there were numerous times that I thought, “If I could just magically be cured of this eating disorder then my whole life would be fantastic and I’d be happy all the time.”
Listen to or download the podcast of this blog.
Flash forward to a day this week, keeping in mind that I’m recovered and have been for years . . .
I awake feeling heavy in my head, like my brain’s dehydrated and struggling to clumsily slurp the last drops of water up a straw. For no apparent reason, I feel down and have to pry the covers off myself in lieu of falling back asleep for the rest of the day. No, geeeeet uuuuup. I rush to pack my things, keeping one eye racing back and forth from the clock, as I take the extra time I don’t have to make myself a latte in a to go mug. I grab my keys and push the door shut.
As I pull my car onto the road, I slide my hand down to my cup holder and realize it’s empty. I picture my little black coffee mug sitting lonesome on the counter waiting for departure.
And I almost begin to cry, feeling the tears rise, feeling silly and stupid. Leaving your coffee on the table doesn’t warrant sobbing in the car on the highway. “What the heck is wrong with you today,” the bully part of my brain exhales.
I feel so down, so bleh, like my brain is full of fog, cobwebs, and quicksand longing to pull me under and wrap me round in a smothering embrace.
“What the heck is wrong with you?”
“Shuuut it,” I answer telepathically.
The thing is, nothing is wrong with me. I just feel junk. We all have days, hours, or even minutes when we fall into a funk. When that happens we each get to choose how we want to deal with it.
When I was in the eating disorder, any negative feelings were immediately shoved onto my body and became its fault.
“Oh, you’re feeling crappy today, yep, that must be because you’re fat. Because you ate the cookie. Because of your huge ass and cellulite. Because you didn’t run long enough today. Because you’re a worthless human being that should definitely be better at willpower and discipline. You should lose weight.”
When I was in the eating disorder, I had depressive days where I felt bleh. I dealt with them by acting out in my eating disorder and abusing my body.
But guess what, I was wrong. When I no longer had the eating disorder, my life wasn’t magically, perfectly happy all the time like I thought it would be.
Recovery doesn’t mean we’re not going to feel junk ever again,
but it does give us choices.
When I feel junk today, I no longer have the trigger reaction to turn it on my body and act out some eating disordered behavior. I can feel the exact same junk feelings, and realize that they have nothing to do with my body. I know that whatever food I binge on or deny my body, isn’t going to make the junk feeling go away. Being skinner isn’t going to make the junk feeling magically go away.
There are days, hours, or minutes that we’re just going to feel junk, sometimes for no apparent reason, and that’s ok.
The next time we feel crappy, depressive, or bleh, let’s refrain from piling those feeling on our bodies. Let’s not make our body the scapegoat for our uncomfortable emotions. No, our lives won’t be magically fantastic when we loose x pounds.
Let’s process our emotions. We can start here:
- Acknowledge that your emotions exist and that they’re not caused by the size or shape of your body.
- We’re all human. Give yourself permission to have and feel all of your feelings, the happy ones and the junk ones.
- Remind yourself that all things are temporary. Feelings come and go. Just because you feel junk today it doesn’t mean you’ll feel this way tomorrow, or even in a few hours.
- Develop a self-care plan for when you feel bleh. It might include a support network, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and simple ways to move your body. It might include a bath with Epson salt and essential oils, writing a gratitude list, or watching a funny movie or TV show.
*Important Note: If you feel you’re experiencing symptoms that are stronger, persistent, and negatively effect your life for more than just a down day, a funk, or bleh feelings, check in with your Doctor. Clinical Depression, or other disorders that include the clinical symptoms of depression, are best treated when caught early on.
Each time we choose to stay with our feelings instead of throwing the blame our bodies, is a little win for us.