What lies behind an eating disorder


What lies behind an eating disorder!

by Wilma Watson

We can have so much in our western world, but lack the one thing we most desire, acceptance and a feeling of self-worth!

Sharleen was a beautiful teenage girl, yet despite receiving compliments, she felt unable to accept them.  Her distorted image of her body led her to have an eating disorder.

The purpose of this article is to help the reader discover what lies behind an eating disorder.

Firstly, we need to understand how low self-esteem and eating disorders are related.

A generational root cause 

Sharleen’s self-rejection grew as her parents were not able to meet her emotional needs (even though she lacked nothing materially). Sharleen’s parents did not know how to meet her needs as they themselves had unmet needs. Each was what we call an ‘adult child’, searching for someone to nurture them.

Sharleen sensed their unmet needs and subconsciously sought to fulfil them by ‘being there’ for her parents.  The adults should have ‘being there’ to meet her emotional needs!

Unmet emotional needs

As Sharleen did not have her own emotional needs met, she was left with feelings of low self-worth, emptiness, loneliness, self-hate and depression.

To compensate for her feelings of low self-worth she grew up putting more emphasis on ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’.  This set the scene for Sharleen to have an eating disorder!

Deep down she felt she was flawed and defective. Having an eating disorder was Sharleen’s way of changing her perception of herself. Her intense, irrational fear of not being accepted kept her in a cycle of deception and control. Let’s look at how this cycle works.

A sense of control is often conveyed by those with low self-worth.

To avoid others seeing the real person, they may either control others by being assertive, or control themselves by being non-assertive.

Sharleen’s mother confided that she felt Sharleen used her eating disorder to control and manipulate her. It was like Sharleen was, consciously or subconsciously, trying to control both herself and her mother. It became a game of control!

For all who struggle with low self-esteem, I invite you to click here and learn about inner shame and how to break free.