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Stop Hating Yourself

No matter how hard you try, you won’t sustain “normal” eating if you hate yourself. I don’t mean not dissing your body, which is a mere manifestation of self-hatred. I mean understanding where your fierce animosity comes from and chasing it out the door.

The reason that so many disregulated eaters find it difficult to love themselves is that they’re full of self-contempt and –disgust. That’s why when mental health experts insist that self-love is imperative for healing food problems, many troubled eaters simply can’t fathom going from here to there. It’s not as if they’ve been walking around feeling merely neutral or lukewarm about themselves. What they’ve been carting around for decades is a palpable self-hatred that touches every aspect of their lives.

This mindset takes up far too much real estate in a disregulated eater’s thinking and is the underpinning for most self-destructive behavior. It crowds out achievement, pride, and positive feelings; it drowns out compassionate self-talk and hijacks the best of intentions. This kind of hatred is chilling in its ferocity, hell-bent on destroying self-love and the love of others given by others.

Children, of course, are not born with self-hatred. They learn it from imperfect parents and care-takers who mistreat them. When someone beats or neglects you or tears you down in any way emotionally, children wonder, “What makes them hate me?” Children can feel the dislike in parental words and actions. This doesn’t mean that inept parents don’t also love their children. Perhaps these parents are reasonably good care-takers when they’re not drinking and ogres when they are. Or they’re sweetness and kindness when life is calm, but make their children’s lives a misery when it becomes stressful.

What’s really going on is parents loathing themselves—due to the unfairness of life, their incompetence, inability to control life, or the terrors that rule them. Parents who spew hatred and dump it on their children are trying to rid what’s within themselves in order to feel better. Children are the receptacles of whatever is simmering when parental pots boil over. Drowning in such foul overflow, children think they deserve the hate. The answer to the child’s question of, “What makes them hate me?” is not within the child but within their self-hating parents. Remember that feelings that have been directed at you aren’t yours and never were. They are someone else’s. Let your self-hatred go so you can move on to the positive feelings and behaviors, eating and otherwise, that show—beyond a shadow of a doubt—how much you love yourself.