“I don’t have a full length mirror for a reason.”
These were some of the first words spoken to me by a dear client of mine as she described the rule she created to keep herself safe from her eating disorder.
“If I only look at my face in the mirror, I won’t get sad and angry at my eating disorder because I won’t be able to judge my body.”
By choosing to do this, she shuts herself off from the rest of her being and she feels better — but only for a moment.
Unfortunately, she’s not alone. This phenomenon where humans only live from the neck up has become standard. And at times it feels comfortable, satisfying, and appears to be working.
We are three-dimensional beings created to live out of a spiritual, emotional, and physical self.
We were made with a body that moves, a heart that beats, and a soul that cries out desperately for connection, love, and attention.
To cut ourselves off from that is detrimental. Yet we do it all the time.
When something shows up that we don’t like, we zip up, go straight to our head and try to think our way out of feeling. We separate the parts of us that make us whole.
All three parts (spiritual, emotional, physical) of us suffer.
When we cut off connection to our feelings, we ignore or numb out with unhealthy coping mechanisms (drinking, isolating, binging, excessive exercise, sleeping, etc.). Our desperate grasping for control cuts off our ability to be in authentic relationships with self, others, and our Higher Power. We are disconnected internally and externally. We are hiding.
When we cut off connection to our body, and stay in our head, we forget the purpose of our body and all that it is intended for and all that it has carried us through. We turn our body into an aesthetic thing instead of a spiritual thing, and we end up hurting ourselves.
When we cut off spiritual connection within our hearts and souls, our Higher Power becomes someone we know about and not someone we experience. This is the essence of pursuing knowledge rather than relationship. We intellectualize our relationship with our Higher Power. We try to do life on our own, forgetting we are spiritual beings created to be in spiritual relationships.
For my client, her eating disorder survived off the neglected shame she carried in her body. Her eating disorder was “fed” every time she told herself “do not look in the mirror, and do not acknowledge your body.”
We acknowledge that pain, suffering, and fear are part of us, not a malfunction. We lean into our imperfections. We stay connected.
Authentic living happens when we stop pushing away what is real to obtain a watered down version of what we want life to look like.
We must learn to acknowledge that we are more than our emotions, we are more than our bodies, and we are more than just creations of a higher power.
We are all three, integrated.
Oddly enough, when we allow ourselves to look in a full length mirror, we give less power to the inauthentic parts of us that say we aren’t good enough.
Take a deep breath in, acknowledging that you can live fully from the tips of your toes, up through your body, into your heart and brain, and out the top of your head.
Kathryn Defatta is a Franklin, TN native with an M.Ed in Human Development Counseling from Vanderbilt. She has unique experience from working in residential treatment centers focused primarily on eating and exercise disorders with men and women. She’s also counseled patients suffering from addiction, personality disorders, depression/anxiety, and trauma.
Before pursuing a career in counseling, Sarah Norris spent a handful of years in the music business until she began paying greater attention to her desires, hopes, needs and feelings. The Spiritual Root System™ has brought new life to Sarah personally and to her counseling practice. Working as a case manager at Windhaven House in Dallas, TX, she gained experience in comprehensive recovery support after primary treatment from substance abuse.