Debasement Anchors Your Eating Disorder: How this works
- Category: Symptoms
If you have an eating disorder, you often feel insecure, of little value and certain that the criticism you give yourself is an echo of the criticism you feel is aimed at you from others. No amount of reassurance will alter your position. Reassurance, you believe, comes from people who mean well, are trying to soothe you, don't understand the reality of your worthlessness or are trying to exploit you by making you believe you are better than you know you are.
So if I and others tell you that your self-criticism is a symptom of your eating disorder and that you are being severe and punishing to yourself, this position will not seem valid to you. In fact, this position may prove to you that I and others saying this are not to be relied upon because we are lying or wrong or stupidly oblivious to the reality of your genuine condition. You may think we are setting you up to exploit you.
If this is you and your experience with yourself and others, you are in the midst of a thorough debasement of yourself. This is not denial or self-sacrifice, although they seem related.
Base means the fundamental principle or underlying concept of your core identity, the center of your self organization. Your base is the center from which your thoughts, feelings, decisions, perceptions and activities flow.
Debasement means to cause your base to deteriorate, decrease in quality or character. The fundamentals of your core structure lose worth, value and dignity.
You don't decide to do this to yourself. It's an unconscious process. Most likely you are attempting to make sense out of your experience in the world. By this I mean that if you were treated badly by people or forces you believe are correct and benign, then you believed that you must deserve this treatment. Your sense of self worth balances itself with the treatment you received. Therefore, if you are treated badly you believe that your worth is equal to the value you imagine you are given by the forces that hurt you.
When you debase yourself you accept ill treatment as your lot in life. You have no psychological place to stand to observe and evaluate realistically what you are doing or have done. The only place to stand is on your base, and that has deteriorated.
Your lack of value feels accurate, as if it's always been accurate. You accept it without question. Someone else is not debasing you. They accept the value you have placed on yourself and treat you accordingly, i.e. badly. You may suffer, but you accept poor treatment because you believe this is your reality.
The pain from this existence is overwhelming. But, since you can't stop it at its source, you engage in your eating disorder activities to decrease your suffering. You overeat or binge or starve to dull your feelings, accepting that dullness as relief. You also put on a false facade, acting as if you were superior than others, deserving of special treatment. But this facade can easily crumble when you are confronted because you don't have a solid base from which to meet your challengers.
You are also susceptible to abuse and exploitation .
Because you have debased yourself, you are certain that you must give all your time, energy, emotional capacity, worldly goods, etc. to barely receive less than adequate nourishment in your relationships, environment, work place, family, and on and on.
Because it is self debasement you have no criteria for comparison. You don't weigh and measure your worth (except with your body weight and proportions) because you are living the experience of being debased. You have no options because your awareness limits you. No one else can lift your self-debasement from you. And you don’t know it’s there.
Can you challenge these beliefs you have about yourself and entertain the possibility that you are worth more than you believe?
1. Do you have more intelligence and creativity than your job requires?
2. Do a list of negatives rise up in your mind when you contemplate making a positive change in your life?
e.g. you're too fat, too lazy, too stupid or worse, plagued with an unnamable bad thing that everyone sees, and you can't do anything about?
3. Can you give yourself physical, emotional, intellectual nourishment even though you believe you don't deserve it? Can you give yourself the chance to grow beyond your debasement and let your genuine value emerge?
4. Do you look for compliments and reassurance yet reject they when it comes?
5. Do you have people in your life, or have you had them in the past, who express a positive perspective toward you and which you reject? Can you rethink your position?
6. Can you give yourself the gift of a more open mind and work on this issue with your psychotherapist?
*pix Courtisane au Caire, 1886 by Edmond Comte De Grimberghe (1865 -1920 )
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.