The Art of Self-Soothing

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I’ll tell you what, you can learn a lot from kids.

As many of you know, I’m an actor. And my “survival job” is being a nanny. Glamorous, I know. But ever since I started being around kids more, I have learned so. much. about myself and development and just human nature. And surprise surprise….how it relates to recovery.

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One of the little girls I watch still sucks her thumb.

And while many parents look down upon this, I really have no stance on this action one way or the other. I’m not here to judge.

Because here’s what I realized: sucking her thumb is her way to self-soothe.

Being a kid these days — especially in NYC — has got to be hard. The competition in schools has never been more intense (hello Ivy-league-esq admittance rates for some preschools), the media’s portrayal of beauty and body image is at an all time low, and every aspect of our lives is filtered and broadcast all over social media.

So this sweet little girl sucks her thumb as a way to comfort herself. To self-soothe. It’s a coping method.

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And it got me thinking. Self-soothing is a skill that is necessary at any age. Because no matter what stage of life you’re in, one thing is certain: it. is. hard.

And to deal, we all have different coping methods. Ways of self-soothing that, if we’re honest, may or may not be the healthiest of choices.

Go out on a Friday night to a bar, and you will find every single person in there engaging in their coping method. I do it. You do it. There’s a reason why people drink to “let loose.” They’re coping. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But some methods aren’t so innocent.

For me, my anorexia was my way to cope. It was my way to self-soothe when the weight of striving for a standard of perfection became too much to bear. The way to control and alleviate my anxieties about life and my future and my body. It was how I coped.

But eating disorders aren’t the only less-than-stellar way people self-soothe or cope: Drugs and alcohol. Overdoing it with food. Finding “comfort” in the beds of strangers. Isolation. Looking at things on the internet that we shouldn’t. Binge shopping online. Violence towards another person – or yourself.

We try to cope – try to soothe ourselves in whatever way possible.

And in life, and especially with eating disorder recovery, learning to cope is the name of the game.

I wish I could sit here and tell you that if you take up yoga or knitting, that your coping-needs will be met. Or that if you go and buy one of those new-fangled, intricate coloring books, that your problems will be solved.

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I mean, I am a firm believer that busting out Taylor Swift and having a dance party is a great problem solver.

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But…

They’re all just bandaids. And they’re not really getting to the heart of the issue.

Because at the core of these coping methods is one thing: we’re trying to fill a part of our souls that is that is bearing the weight of all our anxieties and fears in the world. A part of our souls that is empty – lacking something.

So I want to invite you to think about adopting a new coping mechanism: Jesus.

I know — I can hear the scoffs from here.

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But if that’s you, ask yourself why?

Because believe me, I have been there.

Talking about having a relationship with Jesus and bringing my fears to Him, I repelled the notion. I shut the door. Hid.

Why?

Because I was ashamed.

I felt I was too far gone. Unable to be saved. Not deserving to be rescued. Not worth approaching Him.

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And, I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I think that I probably am not alone in that feeling.

Because here’s why: deep in my heart, even though I was so attached to my anorexia, I knew that it was wasn’t good for me. I knew that I shouldn’t be abusing my body, or lying to my loved ones. I knew that my coping method was destructive. And so I didn’t want to even face Jesus.

I didn’t feel that I could go to Him with my fears. I couldn’t ask Him to be my way to soothe — because I was unclean. Undeserving. Unsaveable.

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But here’s the truth. Which, trust me when I say that I’m still figuring out and trying (usually unsuccessfully) to implement into my life. The truth is this: there is nothing that Jesus can’t handle. There’s nothing that can make you “unredeemable.”

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Maybe you’re sitting there, thinking about your “coping method” and thinking, Yeah…I definitely don’t want bring that to the light.

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He forgives you. He loves you. And He wants to be the replacement for your coping method, so that next time you get dumped or fired or feel emotional or are overwhelmed, that you turn to Him, instead of the bottle, or the fridge, or Zappos, or the treadmill, or the blade, or…to ED. He will transform you.

He will soothe you.

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Psalm 23: He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful streams. He restores my soul.

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beautybeyondbones

BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

70 thoughts on “The Art of Self-Soothing

  1. He knows the person everyone truly wants to be. People just have to make themselves available for the correction to their unhealthy current directions. Give all those troubles over to God!

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  2. Amen! Another awesome post! I, too found that I would go from one addiction to the next. Started with ED, then went to alcohol, then to other things. I had to learn how to redirect my focus and my addictive tendencies towards Christ.

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  3. Once again, you have posted not only something insightful and subtly witty, but also something beautiful as well 🙂 Being a strong believer in Jesus is nothing to be ashamed of in my opinion 🙂 I strongly believe in him too even though I am far from perfect. Jesus comforts all of us in one way or another 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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  4. Yes to this! Although I too am unsuccessful many a time, I am seeking to allow Jesus to be my coping method. It’s definitely not because of Him that I’m sometimes unsuccessful. He’s there waiting for me to turn to Him to give me His peace. This post was beautiful…so inspiring!!!

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    1. Thank you so much Jade. Isn’t it just awesome to think that He’s always right there with open arms. Easier said than done in the moment to turn to Him, but it is my prayer that He strengthens all of us to be able to make that decision. Thanks for stopping by xx

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  5. I enjoyed reading your post. I sat here this morning reading my Bible and my thoughts were on God and his son Jesus. I begin each day thanking God for another day on this earth. Coping with the problems in this world is extremelly hard. Children are so sweet and innocense, they do not judge, they spread love, and if we would all become as little children this world we be a much better place. Much of the world does not want to hear about Jesus, but I can tell by the comments you received on this post that many people know what is important – Jesus. God bless you my dear.

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  6. Exactly! Addressing the symptoms is not the cure to the disease but only a temporary redirection. The source of the affliction of the soul is always boiled down to one thing… ignorance. The word sounds more harsh than it is but it is the source of all evil in the world. ‘Ignorance’ is a word that feels so insulting and deriding and lacking of respect, and that’s because our entire existence is wrapped up into a an overwhelming NEED to always be correct, even if the right answer sometimes means to let someone else make your decisions for you. Our entire lives our filled with a type of measuring of percentages where we put a value onto things and calculate what is right and what is wrong based on how much they are worth to us.

    To the mind’s eye, what you value most is what you see as the clearest and biggest issue, and what you value least can all but blur and vanish completely from your view. To some this could be something like the homeless which they may devalue to the same worth as the garbage on the street. If we are not facing an issue it is invisible to us, but once it is in your face you can no longer ignore it, “Oh sorry, I didn’t notice you there” we say as we are faced with a shift in our perspectives, and the value of our focus then requires its payment of worth in attention and time.

    The truth is that ignorance is an absence of understanding, and the lack of understanding is what we fear most because we put so much stock into our own self-worth fearing we might vanish if we lose sight of ourselves. And so we cling to our own values so dearly as not to get lost in the shadows of insignificance, where we fear that if we don’t know what to do then our own perceived value will plummet into that dreaded obscurity and risk simply disappearing from all view. So we then try to compensate for our lack of understanding because ignorance frightens us more than anything else on the planet, “if I only knew how to slay my dragon I could overcome it” we think but there is no victory celebration in ignorance as it is the great void without answers. So we cling to faulty shields to protect us from the stings that come from the shadows. “What’s that noise? Is that the devil come to find me?” we think in our primitive state of mind.

    So it is then only TRUTH that can overcome the ignorance that blinds you as it is the light of understanding. Only TRUTH can remove the thin veil of ignorance that covers over this mortal life. We all seek answers, but those that dare not ask or risk the quest to find them settles into routines of self-soothing where we whisper secret lies of “everything is going to be alright” and they drink, or smoke, or find vices to occupy their time… yet do these things ever make anything alright? Nothing can ever be alright while yet living in fear. Nothing can ever be alright when we are afraid of the darkness when even the world outside us is bathed half the time in night. That would simply make you afraid all of the time for even what you “know” in the light has no control over what to expect each night of your ignorance.

    Only bravely do we face our fears and stare down the shadows of the things we don’t understand. Only with confidence do we seek the light and find the treasures that are hidden in the dark. For nothing ventured, there is nothing gained. If treasure is not already in your home, how can one become rich sitting at home all alone? Only to the explorer is conquest gained and only the contender can win the prize. And like the lottery, “you can’t win if you don’t play”… so the Bible says “SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND. KNOCK AND THE DOOR SHALL BE OPENED” for ignorance does not need to knock for an invitation to come in. It is always there around. Darkness takes no energy at all to exist. It is ever persistent and it never tires and so it is always there when your eyes grow weary and the light goes out, and it fears nothing save one thing… the light you hold onto and care for. This is the light of TRUTH, we also know it by another name called ‘Christ’ for it is the authority granted to you by God to reflect His glory and to overcome adversity via the light of understanding. But he who sleeps forgets his change and the world so soon slips away into the ever persistent darkness where shadows live and the void of ignorance frightens you and torments you with everything that goes bump in the night.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this powerful insight. I agree, it is only by dwelling on the truth that our eyes can truly see and we can face all that causes us fear and anxiety. How comforting to know that we have a Creator who wants to be there for us and be our source of strength and peace. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your wisdom! Have a blessed afternoon.

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  7. That was so refreshing and such a great read. Very well done. Thank you for having the courage to share your story. It is because of your brokenness that God can use you to show his strength and ability to heal and make us whole. Thank you for allowing him to use you and bring change into your life and the lives on many other through you. 🙂

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  8. Wow! Both barrels. From the carnal side, from the spiritual side.
    What an amazing consultant you are. How wonderful a testimony.
    I wasn’t a thumb sucker but my cousins were. It **is** rather telling.
    Your pictures are powerful, too. Thank you for this.
    🙂

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