Thursday, September 14, 2006


Do you operate out of self-love or self-abuse? It’s something to consider, especially if you’d like to change something about yourself. I’d argue that no change can be made out of self-abuse. The self-loving part of you will always step in and sabotage the plan.

A big push in psychology (particularly with regard to eating disorders) is this concept of self-care. How do you comfort, soothe, and be kind to yourself? Are you compassionate, gentle, and patient, or harsh, punitive, and unyielding? What language do you use with yourself? Is it angry, hurtful, and condemning?

As someone who usually espouses the value of the continuum, I’m feeling pretty black-and-white on this one. It seems that so much of our behavior, particularly related to eating and our bodies, is either motivated by self-care or self-abuse. Eating when you’re hungry? Self-care. Exercising when you’re tired, or sick, or because you have to get rid of the fat? Self-abuse. Allowing yourself to have a food that you desire? Self-care. Eating when you’re stuffed? Self-abuse.


PalmTreeChick said...

I guess that's true, drstacey. I recall an email that I received the other night that said...

"You know how to lose 10 lbs. Don't eat. I think the psychologically healthy part of you is not allowing you to lose 10 lbs. b/c then you'd be sick, sick, sick like the anorexic women you talk about...and the athlete is part of the healthy side of you--the one that recognizes that you need food to perform. . ."

So, I guess what you say is true and it's very frustrating (not you being correct) but the fact that there is that part of us that doesn't allow us to get what we want, or stands in our way. I guess it's a good defense mechanism and we should be grateful we have it, but Ughhhh!!

Exercising when your sick or tired, can't that be considered discipline? ;) Okay, I know I'm stretching it. I won't even ask about the not eating when hungry part.

hackdoll said...

Hello there :)

Unfortunately I think it's very very easy to conflate self-love and self-abuse; it probably has a lot to do with upbringing.

Speaking from a personal standpoint (I really hope there aren't a lot of other people like this) I can't feel at all comfortable unless I'm abusing myself in some way. I know that's not right but I worry that I'd fall apart if I were to be "too lenient" with myself. Certainly it's very very easy to say to myself "You can't have (particular food items) because I love you and don't want you to be fat." I'm pretty sure that's not quite legitimate 'self-love' talking there, but it sure sounds like it to me.

drstaceyny said...

ptc--it's self-preservational.

I don't think exercising when you're sick is evidence of discipline. Tired? It depends. Ultimately, I think it comes down to how much control the behavior has over you. If it has a lot of control over you, I'd say it would be the greatest display of discipline. . . not to do it!

hd--good point, especially abt upbringing. I think it does become murky, especially when we grew up with the care-abuse messages coming from the same source.

Re: your statement sounding like self-love to you, it sounds like it does and it doesn't. I think looking at these things is a process--you may begin to identify more with the care or abuse part of the message over time. And why would you fall apart if you were "too lenient" with yourself? What does falling apart mean?

hackdoll said...


I'd sort of been raised to think I wasn't really capable of taking care of myself. And of course "falling apart" would entail running around and eating everything that wasn't tied down. I do get the feeling that I'm inches away from such behavior at all times. (I guess if you're so unused to feeling satiated you sort of worry that you've lost your capacity to ever feel it, regardless of what's eaten.)