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Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Embracing the Right Kind of Anger

Anger

Driving home from doing an errand, I heard an interview (shout out to NPR) about women and anger which got me thinking about how many dysregulated eaters and people with high weights—not just women—use anger in the opposite way from how it is useful. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if they could channel anger more effectively. 

Here’s what I see and hear. In general, these clients (and others as well) are angry at things which don’t merit anger or won’t be changed by it, while they feel accepting of or helpless about things which they have a shot at changing if they direct their rage at it. For example, dysregulated eaters could be angry at the culture and the media which are overtly or covertly pressuring them to diet and hate themselves unless they lose weight Instead, they’re furious at themselves for not being or becoming slimmer. 

They could be mad at specific people—spouses, partners or parents (or anyone)—trying to make them feel they’re defective because they’re “not in control around food” or are “overweight.” But, rather than turn that feeling outward, they angrily beat themselves up for their perceived imperfections. Or they’re infuriated at how their parents used to control their food intake or constantly criticized them about their weight. 

Moreover, in nice-girls-(or-boys)-finish-fat fashion (see my book Nice Girls Finish Fat), they may view themselves as victims because they were at one time and have yet to recognize that they no longer are. Victims don’t often allow themselves to direct the flow of their anger outward and, therefore, the only place it can land safely is on themselves. It’s easier to be pissed at yourself when you make a mistake than to swivel your anger around toward the person who’s wrongly shaming or berated you.

Anger is a powerful motivator, but it’s meant to come in short bursts. It’s not great for our bodily systems for us to feel angry all the time—especially at ourselves. It does nasty things to our blood pressure and stresses or burns us out. But anger at injustice can work wonders. An excellent motivator to right wrongs when used effectively, it can bring politicians and industries to their knees. Think about boycotts and demonstrations. Think about the civil rights and women’s movements. 

So, take a minute to consider where you direct most of your anger about your eating or weight. My hunch is that you point the finger at yourself—then use it to poke yourself a lot in a disrespectful manner. If you ever want to heal from your eating problems, you need to stop doing this. Keep the anger, but direct it where it belongs, wherever that injustice is coming from, whoever is causing it.

 

Best,

Karen

 

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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.  Privacy Policy