I sat in the pew at church this past weekend, and something the priest said really stuck with me. He was translating the 10 Commandments into words that were relatable in our modern-day lives, and when he got to “Thou shall not kill” he pointed out that this commandment enshrines life. It’s not merely about not murdering each other – it’s about having respect for the dignity of every human being.
And this includes ourselves.
We all deserve to live a life of dignity. A life where we feel safe and respected by ourselves and others.
The eating disorder robs you of your dignity in many, many ways:
- Telling you that your worth and self-esteem are based on your weight and appearance
- Making you do things that are harmful and detrimental to your body
- Isolating you from social interaction
- Hiding the truth about your behaviors
- Fixating on your eating/exercise/weight above other important things
- Beating yourself up for what you ate or didn’t eat
- Beating yourself up for the size of jeans you wear
- Beating yourself up for not being “good enough” (whatever that means…)
- Beating yourself up for every little thing….
Want to reclaim your dignity? Or perhaps discover it for the first time in your life?
Great – then it’s time to take a stand against the eating disorder, and against our culture that makes you feel this way.
Treating yourself with dignity while you recover
It’s going to take quite a bit of time to heal from the suffering you have endured. Give yourself grace and compassion for this. That’s the first step to reclaiming your dignity.
There are many ways that you can begin to practice self-respect:
- Check in with your body throughout the day. Ask yourself what you need.
- Feed yourself when you are hungry.
- Choose satisfying foods.
- Stop when pleasantly satiated.
- Move your body as an act of kindness, rather than punishment.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Unplug and have tech-free time periodically.
- Practice assertiveness and expressing your needs.
- Daily self-care.
- Speaking out against media that promotes dieting and thinness.
- Saying NO to your diet culture.
These are just ideas. I encourage you to come up with your own and start to play around with it. Respect yourself enough to take this process seriously, and to think of it as an experiment where you are gathering data about what works and doesn’t work for you as an individual.
When the eating disorder tries to rob you of your dignity, say no. Set a boundary. Take care of yourself instead. This will feel uncomfortable at first, and the eating disorder will tell you that you are being stupid, silly, selfish (or some other negative). That’s the eating disorder trying to protect itself.
Dignity is about your True Self protecting the real you. And that means kicking the eating disorder to the curb.