If you’re reading this, chances are you spend a lot of time on the internet. You may have run into the term “bitch eating crackers”*- the idea that when you hate someone enough, you get annoyed with anything and everything they do, even innocent things like eating. We already have similar terms to define our emotions- annoyance, frustration, or oversensitivity- but this one helps folks get in touch with a very specific phenomenon.

One of the most important things we do in therapy is to label and name our feelings. In fact, brain scan studies have shown that simply labeling negative emotions makes them less intense. Naming them in the context of the therapeutic relationship, with a caring and empathic listener, helps it further. The more specific and clear you can get about the feeling, the better!

I’ve noticed in my therapy work that “bitch eating crackers syndrome” often indicates some kind of deeper stuckness. It could be that the person who embodies bitch eating crackers (BEC for short) for you is someone with whom you have a real, unexpressed conflict. Perhaps you don’t like the way your coworker signs off their emails because they didn’t acknowledge your ideas. Or it could be that you have unmet needs in a different relationship and your BEC just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and terrible at eating crackers. It could be that your bitch eating crackers allows herself to do something, like ask for help, that you aren’t allowing yourself. It’s super helpful to sit for a moment and ask yourself “what’s under that?”

It seems the biggest real-life problem with “bitch eating crackers” is the expectation we place on ourselves that we should control our emotions. I know, logically, that I shouldn’t get angry about something, so when it crops up anyway, I go into self-blame and try to tamp it down. The problem is, however, that emotions rarely move across logical lines. An emotionally healthy person experiences all kinds of emotions that don’t make logical sense for the situation- they simply accept that emotions have an intelligence of their own and make space to process what they might be telling them.

If you’re finding yourself annoyed and frustrated for seemingly no reason at all, I encourage you to explore it. Vent to a friend. Tear into this person in your journal. Allow yourself to fully immerse yourself in “bitch eating crackers syndrome” for a few moments. You may surprise yourself with what comes up!

Want to get even better at using your less-than-convenient feelings to get clear about what matters?

Take my FREE 5-day Trust Your Gut challengeYou’ll learn to listen to these kinds of feelings and hear the intuitive message underneath them- all in bite-sized mini challenges.

I offer BEC-friendly therapy in the Bay Area of California. If you’re local, Make An Appointment for a free 15-minute consultation to decide whether one-on-one counseling would be right for you.

*Writer’s note: As a woman and a feminist, I am entirely too familiar with how problematic using the word “bitch” is. I personally strive to keep my insults gender-neutral! For this concept, however, I didn’t come up with the term, and it doesn’t feel right to try to sanitize it. “Jerk Eating Crackers” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. You’re not likely to see me using the word outside of this context.