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February 28, 2018

Getting Past Shame to Self Compassion Through Values

Woman getting past shame and creating art

Contributor: Camille Williams, MA, LCPC, Eating Disorder Specialist at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Shame is a contributing factor in the development and continuation of eating disorder behaviors. Shame, the belief that “I am bad,” can come from not living according to personal values.

For individuals with eating disorders, it is common for values of honesty to be conflicted by the need to lie and remain secretive about behaviors. This lack of not being honest, especially with loved ones, leads to an increase in shame.

There can be this sense or belief that “because I don’t live by my values, I’m bad.” It is easy to see how this cycles because shame can often increase the frequency of behaviors. So, shame leads to behaviors, which leads to more shame and more behaviors.

There is little space for self-compassion to exist when a person is stuck in a shame cycle. Therefore, it makes sense that individuals with eating disorders often struggle to show self-compassion, view self as worthy, and take care of self.

Luckily, there is a healthier alternative to the recovery process. Living by values can result in a decrease in shame because there is alignment and a person can live congruently. As an individual begins to live by what is important and meaningful, that congruence leads to an overall positive feeling.

Teen with guitarThis is where self-compassion and worth can increase because the individual is living by ways that promote a positive view of self. Similarly, this cycle builds on itself as well because an increase in self-compassion will result in continuing to live by values and decrease eating disorder behaviors.

Connecting with self-compassion can start with identifying values. Is honesty, connection, creativity, adventure, or education important? What about spirituality, balance, strength, accomplishment or trust? Use what’s important to guide choices and actions.

Schedule time for activities that align with values rather than living by impulsively reacting to emotions or urges that conflict with values. If connection is a value, make plans with loved ones a couple times per week.

If creativity is important, you should schedule time each day to be present with this skill. This will leave less time for eating disorder behaviors and result in relief of living aligned with values and subsequently increase the feeling of self-worth.


Camille WilliamsAbout the Author: Camille Williams, MA, NCC, LCPC

As the Eating Disorder Program Coordinator, Camille supports the development of curriculum, supervises the eating disorder specialist, and provides group therapy. She also educates and trains all staff on campus and advocates for eating disorder awareness through publications.

Camille started at Timberline Knolls as a Behavioral Health Specialist. She then transitioned into the Eating Disorder Specialist (EDS) role. In this position for nearly five years, she developed her skills and competence in working with the eating disorder population.

Camille received a Bachelor of Arts degree in both psychology and sociology from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. She then went on to earn a Master of Arts in Clinical Professional Psychology from Roosevelt University, IL.

Camille is a member of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP).


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on February 28, 2018.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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