Do you self-sooth with food, alcohol or unhealthy items?
Find that you are in a vicious cycle of binge eating?
Feel triggered by something and reach for that thing that will bring instant relief?
Do you have uncontrollable urges?
One of the MOST COMMON self-soothing techniques people have is BINGE EATING. It is a quick and easy relief for people when they are feeling discomfort or triggered by an external circumstance.
So why do we reach for the QUICK FIX? I am yet to met a client or person who does not seek safety, protection and love. In truth- this is a core part of living a happy, healthy life. Yet when we don’t have these needs met we tend to find other vices that help us feel like we have them.
So foods that are drenched in unhealthy fats, preservatives or high sugar content are a toxic antidote when we are feeling unloved or unsafe.
Did you know that sugar has the same effect on our brain as love? (For those who wish to find out more about sugar there is a brilliant documentary http://thatsugarfilm.com/). This is one epic killer reason why most people dive straight into the sugar when they are feeling unloved…TO FEEL LOVED! However, this is only a short-term relief and eventually we need MORE sugar to keep feeling loved. And so the vicious cycle begins.
It can have really subtle, yet strenuous effects on our overall well-being. It can affect our hormonal and adrenal systems, create imbalance in our moods, decrease our immunity, sex drive and energy levels, it can effect our ability to focus, and not to mention becoming fixated on getting that item so we can calm down and feel normal. It also plays havoc on the way we perceive ourselves in the world; yet self-soothing in unhealthy ways is such a common thing! The other unhealthy habit’s society engages in is excessive alcohol, drug and exercise.
When we start to reach for something outside of our selves to make ourselves FEEL better, it is a CLEAR indication that we don’t have the internal resources to cope with what we are experiencing. This can create a lot of guilt and shame, especially when we engage in these unhealthy habits, which we feel we have no control over.
So what are your options?
How can you re-wire your internal system and build your reservoir of resources to stop sabotaging yourself?
- Remove all ‘Unhealthy’ foods from easy access. Get rid of any potential items that allure or invite you to self-sabotage. Now is the time to de-clutter your pantry and fridge from low vibrational food. Anything that is moderate to high sugar (or sugar in general), white grains (breads, pastas), junk and toxic foods that have additives and preservatives are best removed to prevent you from reaching for them when you are feeling vulnerable.
- Start a food diary. Tracking what we eat and when we eat it food diary can be a powerful visual tool in addressing some of our patterns with food.
- Become the observer of your internal triggers. Most people over eat to feel safe, protected and loved. Which means something in our external environment has poked us where we need to feel loved (Most people carry wounds from their past which is activated by a trigger). Notice what your triggers are and find out which part of you needs your loving attention. Once you give attention to this feeling and help transmute it, this trigger will dissolve and you wont need to reach for unhealthy soothing foods. (A therapist, healer, coach, and somatic worker can best support this deep inner work).
- Re-wiring our habits takes time. Most people want to wake up and have their bad or ugly habits gone overnight. This can happen but generally, scientific research says it takes up to 6 weeks to break a habit and create a new one.
- Silence the Inner critic. We are our own harshest critic! Re-wiring our internal systems can take time…and may involve lapses into an old behaviour. The key is not to be too judgmental or critical when we slip up, but see it as a gift that shows you another part of you that is needing love. So instead re-frame your self-hatred to self-love. Thank yourself for another part of you that is triggered and needing attention.
- Get clear on your goals. Everyone has different intentions and ideas on what they want to look and feel like. For some, it can be based on the physical appearance, for others it may be to live healthy and more consciously. Whatever your reason- get clear. Determine what your drivers are?
- Start embodying your desired life. If you were at your desired goal right now…what would that look and feel like? Once you get clear on your desired goal, a power tool to support this desire is to spend a bit of time each day imagining what this would feel like and start to feel it right now. This means really feeling it in your body. Would you feel happy, open, sexy, sensual, alive, vital? Allow yourself to feel on a deep cellular level.
- Stop self-defeating behaviour. When we feel shit, we tend to eat or engage in activities that increase or sustain that shit state! So try experimenting to shift the state of mind. Wearing nice bright clothes or jewelley, or nourishing exercise can all help shift your state. It may surprise you how this simple technique can be effective on our wellbeing.
- No more blaming. If you really want to awaken to a powerful life that YOU master, kick the blaming of external triggers to the curb. We only blame others because we don’t want to face up to our own truth and do the real work. It keeps us stuck in these old behaviour patterns that really effect our healthy and well-being.