One of the most important things we can do in life to protect and enhance our health is to understand where we are coming from.
Our histories shape the stories that we tell ourselves.
And the stories we tell ourselves can either work for or against us. Behind every story is a desire. Behind every problem is a desire.
For me, my story around food really became solidified when I found myself spending long days alone with my new baby being confused, feeling isolated, and longing for “me” time.
I felt like I NEEDED to reward myself each and every day with food.
Ice cream was a natural choice since I had always been an avid ice cream fan.
I was unknowingly creating an eating addiction that took me 15 years to fully resolve.
A big part of my journey was around telling a different story.
I didn’t think of it as a story for many, many years.
But in hindsight, even the beginning story, that I NEEDED the ice cream to reward myself for a long hard day, was damaging.
Yes, the story morphed over the years but it was always the stories I told myself about food, about life, about my body, about my health, etc, that enabled my behavior (good or bad).
Even after I realized I needed to change, it took me many many years to admit that the bad nighttime eating habit was based on false stories.
Once we recognize there is a problem, we have to examine the stories. And the most fascinating thing in the world to me is that those stories are often not true.
The stories are how we cope with our emotions. We are driven to yearn, complain, fret, and worry by 5 deep-rooted emotions: fear, sadness, anger, joy, and sexual desire.
What is so fascinating about this is that the problem is actually a clue.
If we are paying attention and we are willing to explore the problem, we can begin to dig.
And as we dig and dig we find that below all of the stories and even behind all of those other emotions, there is fear.
And attached to the fear is a desire.
Many of these fears were born out of experiences we had as children or adolescents. Some out of adult experiences.
For example, as a child maybe your mother didn’t pay enough attention to you and this caused you to feel not worthy of being loved.
Now as an adult you may have a deep-rooted fear of not being worthy or lovable. But below that, if we look, is a desire to be loved.
So, if you find yourself being jealous or insecure due to that deep-rooted fear, that jealousy or insecurity is actually a gift.
Yes, it’s a problem and it feels awful, but if we are willing to delve deeper we may see that it is actually an indicator of a deep desire that is not being fulfilled.
It is very common for people to eat in a mindless or damaging way due to an unmet need for love, attention, connection, fulfillment, or some deep desire.
So, any problem or complaint you have is an opportunity to learn about yourself, grow, and get what you really want.
How cool is that?!
Our eating problems are actually gifts!!
What a refreshing way to look at it.
Instead of judging ourselves, let’s get curious.
What is my “problem” telling me?
You can often find the clues right there in your story.
What story are you telling yourself right now that is stopping you from reaching your goals?
Be honest with yourself.
Like, really, really honest.
One of my favorite practices (and this type of living is a REGULAR PRACTICE) is to start my day by complaining.
Yup, you read that right!
I start by loudly complaining about whatever is bugging me, usually with lots of stomping and embellished, exaggerated statements about how awful it is.
THEN, after I’m all riled up and feeling righteous and justified in my complaints, I take some deep belly breaths and ask myself, “What am I really afraid of?”
And as those answers come and I take more deep belly breaths I ask myself, “What do I REALLY want?”
I can even ask that question with different emphasis such as “WHAT do I really want?” OR “What do I really WANT?”
And just breathing into that question is really a wonderful practice.
As answers flow, I can wonder a little more.
What story am I telling myself right now?
“Is it true?”
“Do I really know that to be true?”
Many of our fears are based on past experiences and worry about potential outcomes. They are often simply not “true” for us at that moment.
I suggest exploring this a little more.
For me, the story that I NEEDED to eat in order to relieve the stress of the day, simply wasn’t true.
There were many other things I could have done to destress and that I do now.
The idea that I HAD to have a snack at night was not true.
I did not and I do not NEED a snack at night.
The truth is that underneath that story was a deep desire to make a difference in the world and a fear of not being successful.
Once I knew the basis of that story I could begin to tell a different one.
My story now is that I WANT to be healthy so that I can accomplish my dreams. And I also want to age gracefully.
My story is that I love and appreciate my body for all that it gives me; my eyes to see my beautiful children, my legs to take me on long walks with my dog, my nose to smell the delicious spring flowers, my ears to hear fun music, and so on.
That story is much more true for me and it gives me the motivation to stop telling the old tired story that I somehow have to rely on food to feel good.
I hope that this gives you some inspiration to tell a new story that will bring happiness, love, self-acceptance, and pleasure into your life.