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Overcoming Shame in Eating Disorder Recovery

“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive." ~Brené Brown


Overcoming Shame is Necessary for Full Eating Disorder Recovery

It is difficult to talk about eating disorders without talking about shame. For the person with an eating disorder, shame can be a vicious cycle—both causing the disorder but also stemming from it, the nature of the disease resulting in feelings of guilt and self-hatred. Recovery from an eating disorder requires you to overcome shame—but doing so is anything but easy.

A big part of overcoming shame is learning to trust other people. This doesn’t mean broadcasting all your innermost problems and fears to the world, but it does mean opening up and being honest with a few key people. (Although, there are some who do find it therapeutic to speak more publically about their eating disorders, and do so through blogs and social media sites).

There are a few ways to begin this process:

  • Speak with your therapist or counselor about the worst days with your eating disorder.
  • Be open with your support group.
  • Speak words of truth to yourself—but not words of condemnation. “I binged today, but that does not make me a failure. It just means I need to work on my coping skills.”

Ultimately, though, the only way to truly overcome shame is to forgive yourself—something else that is hard to do, but which begins with your decision not to speak accusatory or self-loathing words to yourself.

You can also learn to forgive yourself by being intentional in self-love. Develop some rituals for caring for yourself—even if it’s something as simple as rubbing lotion on your feet. Another option is to start a journal where you list things you are thankful for, things that are going well for you, and things you like about yourself.

By using all of these tools, and by being patient, you can overcome shame—and that’s key for recovery.


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