This month I am embarking on a new journey of teaching in live workshops. I am sharing the tools and techniques in Lemons, Lemonade & Life in order to heal emotional eating.
For this new endeavor I needed to spread the word, and what better way to do that than electronically? But, we’re all so busy these days, unless an email title is compelling enough, chances are we won’t even open it.
So as I pondered headlines, titles and idea after idea, nothing really resonated with me. For weeks. Then one night as my mind wandered, I really remembered what food meant to me before I healed emotionally. Food was my focus. It was comforting and kind to me. For decades, food was my best friend.
I remember when I was obese. I was unhappy and potentially facing illness and disease if I continued to gain weight. I remember how I needed to change my relationship with food and, after I healed emotionally, I was finally ready to take those steps.
I realized that I needed to break up with food as my best friend. It lied to me. It felt caring and comforting and nurturing when I was eating it, yet that feeling didn’t last long. And as my weight climbed and climbed, I remember feeling more and more helpless. And that’s when I got the title: “Your Best Friend is a Liar… It’s Time to Break Up.”
I was successful in breaking up with food as my best friend. And once I got back into the driver’s seat of my life and I stabilized my weight, I came to realize that food had been my substitute for love. I didn’t feel badly about it, because it was a way to connect to love when I couldn’t feel it otherwise. I needed love and understanding so desperately, and it provided that. It kept me on the planet long enough to heal then learn to use it in a more balanced way.
Many of us use food as our substitute for love. There are other love substitutes, such as shopping, alcohol, drugs, plastic surgery, exercise, career, money and even other people. When we are out of balance and use them in excess, we can see the impact on our bodies and in the quality of our lives.
What’s beautiful about recognizing when you have a love substitute is identifying that what you really seek is love and understanding. That is the positive wish underneath the excessive use of something, and it provides wonderful direction on how you can start moving forward – by building your self-love and self-understanding first. After all, our love substitutes are habits, and habits can be broken.
In considering this, the idea of ridding yourself of love substitutes, you may ask, “Well, if I got rid of everything I enjoy, what’s left?” And the answer is, nothing… and everything. Stripped of the distractions of life, you can identify the real you. Your real gifts – ones you were born with that have been stymied — await you so that you can use the things of life in balance and harmony with your spirit. Who better to belong to and with than yourself? Once that bond is established, it is permanent and your ability to shift your relationship with your love substitutes becomes a true possibility.
To build self-love and self-understanding, you can start by honoring what you did to survive to this point. Understand that it served a positive purpose for you. It may feel counter-intuitive, however when you acknowledge and honor what you did to survive, it gives you the ability to shift more easily.
If you feel that it’s time to break up with your love substitutes, you might not be ready at the moment, but thinking about it is a wonderful first step.