I’ve heard it said that when you allow yourself to become bitter against someone, it’s like you are letting them live rent-free in your head. He may be miles away, but you can still hear his voice, and his actions get rehashed, again and again. You can’t get away from him — or her.
Besides being a torment to your mind, it can also derail your healthy eating and exercise plan. Have you ever played out this scenario?
Some chance remark reminds you of what this ogre-person said and did to you. You grind your teeth and remember the scene and think of new things you should have said. This is gratifying in a way, because you can control the situation and make it go like you want — with the offender being overcome by your righteous anger and well-chosen words. But not really. It’s not as if it actually changes anything, and several things happen that only hurt you – not the offender.
For one thing, when you are angry, your body cranks out a super dose of the hormone cortisol. Like most of our body functions gone wrong, cortisol is meant to be a blessing. If you were being chased by a lion, for example, it would kick in and do some helpful things. It provides a quick burst of energy — helpful for getting away from the lion. It heightens memory function, so you might remember the location of a convenient tree to climb to safety. You get a lower sensitivity to pain, which is good if the lion wins, and a burst of increased immunity, which you may need to survive your wounds. It also tells your body, “Hey, we are living in a dangerous time. Make sure you store up lots of energy so that the next time a lion comes around you’ll have the energy reserves to get away. Pack it around the belly where we can get it.”
However, in today’s world, it doesn’t work that way. When you remember the hurtful things done to you, cortisol kicks in, just as if a lion was chasing you. You have an extra burst of energy, but you aren’t running away, so you spend it slamming doors and stomping around. Your heightened memory function only helps you bring up all the other crummy things that person did to you. And so it goes. The worst thing is the effect cortisol has on your blood sugar levels and on the fat storage plan. Even though there is no lion, cortisol tells your body, “Dangerous times — store up fat around the belly.”
So you are not only letting the jerk live in your head rent-free, you are allotting him space around your middle in the form of belly fat. Add to that the tendency we have to console ourselves with carbs and sweets, and you have allowed that person to harm you in yet another way. He has made you fatter.
How do you defeat this person who is harassing you, even when he is nowhere near? By forgiveness. That’s the only way to get them out of your head for good. He doesn’t deserve it, you say? Of course not. But you deserve to be free. That’s enough reason for letting go and letting God deal with the offender.
Eating to live and living for Christ,
Susan Jordan Brown