“There is no joy in this.”
I must have made this statement to myself a hundred times following an episode of overeating.
I’m not sure why that was the particular wording I chose, but that was the exact phrase I spoke to myself as I sat feeling heavy, dirty, ugly, and worthless following a binge.
There was regret each and every time that I overate, and yet that regret was not powerful enough to prevent me from doing it again in a day, a week, or a month. What was wrong with me? Why was I choosing to do something that left me feeling really, really bad?
They say the soul rejoices in hearing what it already knows…that sums up how I felt when I discovered that I was trying to fulfill a need other than hunger with my overeating. It was a big “wow, that makes sense—that really makes sense!”
I was trying to feed whatever emotional need I had at the moment with food. For obvious reasons, that was not working.
Did the realization that I had emotional needs that could not be satisfied by eating cause me to immediately stop misusing food? Nope. But it did begin the process that ultimately led me to a healthier, happier relationship with food.
The idea is that as soon as you notice that you are about to mindlessly consume food, or are in the midst of mindlessly consuming food, or have finally stopped mindlessly consuming food…you start to question yourself.
Questioning helps you tap into a state of awareness.
When you first start practicing this type of awareness, the questioning will most likely occur after overeating. As you strengthen your ability to tune into your mind/body, you will be able to question yourself in the act of overeating. Eventually, you will be aware enough to question your needs before you start putting food in your mouth.
Let’s say you come home from work after a totally crappy day. Your boss criticized you in front of your co-workers, you spilled salad dressing on your white blouse, traffic sucked, and you come home only to step in cat vomit as you walk into your house.
What do you do? You change into yoga pants and a sweatshirt and sit down on the couch with a tub of ice cream, and then you heat up a little microwave popcorn, and then…you NOTICE, “Hey, I’m doing that mindless eating thing right now”.
You put down the popcorn and begin to ask questions. You ask yourself, “What am I really craving right now? What need am I trying to fill with food?”
Review your day. How did you feel when your boss criticized you in front of your co-workers? Ashamed? Angry? Were those feeling exacerbated by the salad dressing on your shirt, the traffic, and the cat vomit?
If you are feeling ashamed and angry, what do you need?
Food can seem like a good way to stuff those feelings of shame and anger, and yet, when we’re done eating the shame and anger wash over us again even more powerfully—this time the shame and anger is directed toward ourselves for overeating.
So, what do you really, really need?
The antidote to shame is empathy, and the antidote to anger is acceptance. How can you nourish yourself with empathy and acceptance?
One way is to reach out and connect with someone that is able to listen to your story, empathize with your feelings, and sit patiently with you while you work through the acceptance part.
That feeling of connection, of being heard and understood, is so powerful.
Sometimes though there isn't anyone available to talk to us when we need it *RIGHT NOW*...no worries, you can totally work through this process on your own by writing about it.
And that, my lovelies, will be talked about in next week's blog post.
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