Two months ago, I talked about the power of words and how important names for things are. More recently, I had another personal insight about this.
I’ve been wanting to lose 20-30 pounds for about 10 years now. Ever since I moved from downtown Seattle to the suburbs of Denver, I drive more and walk much less. Another contributor to the issue is that I over-eat; I like food, I enjoy the sensual pleasures of eating and tasting, and I enjoy it to excess. Still, I never felt I was an emotional eater, even though I often over-indulge during times of stress. The phrase “emotional eating” doesn’t resonate with me but “self-soothing with food” does. The pleasure of food covers up some of the discomfort of stress.
Digging into the issue deeper, triggered by something Barbara De Angelis said on her Hay House Radio show in January, I realized my over-indulgence with food could also stem from some rebellion in an old relationship. My college boyfriend was the kind of person who can dish out lots of criticism but can’t take it. He would pretty regularly tell me he wished I would lose some weight and didn’t respect that his comments hurt me, but if I had the smallest critical comment for him he would get upset and pout and not speak to me. He was entitled to judge and hurt me, but I was not allowed to defend myself or express my displeasure. There were other dynamics around entitlement in our relationship, but I won’t go into them all; suffice it to say, this insight really struck a nerve and stirred up some old, repressed anger. I realized that, by eating whatever I damn well pleased, I was rebelling against his judgment and entitling myself some pleasure.
By identifying my issue as entitlement, I can look for another way to empower myself rather than eating. By identifying my issue as soothing with food, I can begin to cultivate other soothing practices to use in times of stress. The same issue of over-eating can have different facets and different triggers. In my case, I’m learning about my triggers and trying to identify them in the moment so I can replace the unhealthy practice of over-eating with a healthy alternative.
I’ve been blocked on this issue for 10 years, and it didn’t click until I had these points of reference; self-soothing and entitlement. When you’re feeling blocked on an issue, try rephrasing it until something rings true. Maybe ask a friend or coach to help you rephrase and reframe if you’re very blocked. When you know what the issue’s real name is, you can break it down and find a solution.