How to Cope with Hurt Feelings


hurt feelings and binge eating

Do you ever eat when you have hurt feelings? Do you find yourself in the middle of a binge or emotionally eating? Do you ever come home or get off the phone with someone, and feeling sad and lonely, stressed or anxious, angry or overwhelmed, walk over to the refrigerator and unconsciously start eating until you feel badly about that instead of what you had originally felt bad about?

Dealing with hurt feelings through emotional eating is one of the ways that we learn to soothe ourselves. But there are other options. When you notice that you are hurt, know that this is a prime time for you to run to the kitchen. Remind yourself that you are at risk for bingeing and ask yourself if there are other things that you can do. Some ways to deal with hurt feelings or anger are:

1.)talking about them to someone else

2.)screaming into a pillow

3.)going for a long walk

4.)reminding yourself that you’ve done nothing wrong, or if that’s not the case, taking the steps that you need to apologize or correct the situation.

5.)take deep breath/meditate

6.)punch pillows

7.)give yourself a break, forgive yourself.

8.)write about it. get on a forum and discuss what happened with others.


gestalt therapy and eating disordersA patient of mine, who I’ll refer to as Allison, came into my office in tears today.  After several months of being clean from binge eating, she’d spent the past two weeks knee deep in pastries. As we spoke, she told me about how she’d been betrayed by her employer and how angry she was. Her response was to binge eat.  Gestalt therapy would call this retroflection.  Being angry at someone else, and hurting yourself in response.  Allison was terribly hurt and angry by the actions of her boss, but rather than say something to him, she acted out by hurting herself. She came into the session incredibly angry at herself for her relapse. All of her anger toward her boss was completely ignored because she internalized it and responded to the hurt by  harming herself.

Do you ever notice this happening? Have you ever felt so angry at someone and wound up in the middle of a binge? It’s incredible how we can often hurt ourselves when we really want to hurt someone else. Of course hurting anyone is never the answer or the correct response, but punishing yourself after someone has hurt you is devastating and the last thing you need. You’ve already been beaten up enough, you don’t need to join in. It can lead  you become isolated, lonely, and unsupported.

Next time you find yourself feeling helpless because someone hurt you, either intentionally or unintentionally, notice what your instinct is. Do you feel the urge to take it out on yourself by doing something self destructive like binge eating, drinking, smoking, cutting, self harming, or using drugs?  Try to take an inventory of who and what you are angry at. It might not be safe to talk to the person that you’re angry at, in which case it’s great to discuss what’s going on with a friend or co-worker or spouse or someone else close to you.  Be conscious of your urges to hurt yourself when you are feeling helpless against someone else’s inconsiderateness or downright meanness.  You don’t have to join with them to hurt yourself more. This is the time that you need to be supported and loved. This is your choice. It might feel like someone is driving you to binge eat, but of course you can make the decision as to how you want to react. Reacting by being kind to yourself and taking care of yourself will always be a better choice and help you to recover from someone else’s betrayal.

Anger and Binge Eating

couple having breakfast, guy talking on the phoneThere is a theory that many people binge on crunchy food, such as cereal or chips when they are trying to process unconscious anger.  Anger is a  challenging feeling for many women to feel. When rage and anger goes unexpressed, it turns inward and becomes depression. What’s important is to learn how to be in touch with your feelings so that you can recognize anger when it occurs. Perhaps someone cut you off when you were driving, or someone at a store said something rude or insensitive, or your boss upset you. Lots of women internalize that and believe that if someone said something mean or rude or insensitive to them, that they probably deserved it. But the truth is, no one should ever treat you with unkindness or disrespect, even if you mess up.  If they do, it is a character flaw within them.  In my opinion, being kind, being compassionate and holding yourself in integrity will get you far in life. And everyone deserves to be treated with kindness unless proven otherwise. When someone treats your poorly, it’s their fault, not yours.  When a binge eater is mistreated, rather than either standing up for him or herself or processing her anger, she will eat over it. It’s ironic. Someone hurt you and your response is to hurt yourself. When you begin to choose recovery, you will notice that your feelings are more apparent to you. When someone makes you angry, either talk to them about it (if it’s safe). If it’s not safe, write an angry letter and put it in a bottle and send it out to sea. Don’t let that anger fester inside of you to hurt you. Don’t stuff it down, get it out. You can talk to a close friend about it, you can punch a pillow, you and put on heavy boots and clomp up a hill.  It’s not easy to recognize when your default has always been to eat as soon as you even begin to feel anger, but if you can stop yourself and ask, “what am I feeling?” you might find that you are able to save yourself.