Just as physical hunger is the signal for us to eat, and thirst is the single for us to drink water, loneliness is a signal for us to seek connection. Unfortunately, what keeps so many people stuck from seeking the connection and support they need is shame. Shame is the belief that inherently there is something wrong and broken with us and therefore we are unworthy of true love and belonging. This differs from guilt, which is a signal that we have acted out of alignment of our values. While guilt says we’ve done something bad or wrong (that could be changed), shame insidiously tells us we are bad or wrong.
The cycle so often goes like this for food and so many other addictive-type behaviors:
Feel intense loneliness and shame —> binge eat —> isolate oneself and feel more lonely and shameful —> continue binge eating
I’ve seen from my experience and that of my clients that feeling out-of-control with food in itself is painful. Add on top of that feeling like you’re alone and the only one struggling with the issue and the experience can be excruciating.
So whatever your relationship status, I invite you to use this Valentine’s Day to prioritize the most important relationship of all, your relationship with yourself! After all, even if you are in a relationship or not yet in a relationship and looking for one, you will still always have your relationship to yourself that will serve the basis of how you connect to and relate with others. Make today a day to practice self-love.
So how do you do this? Here are 3 practical ideas on how you can show yourself love today:
Often times, the traits we accept and don’t accept are related to what our primary caregivers and society told us was acceptable and unacceptable. In fact, this is often what I see in my client work and with my own journey – that often times the difficulties we have in moving forward reflect some unhealed parts of us that are calling for our attention.
I remember being in a job interview when the interviewer asked me:
“What is your greatest weakness?”
I’d smile back, so pleased to answer the question I know how to answer so well:
“I’m a perfectionist….I set high standards for myself and others. I achieve a lot but then can often get frustrated if things aren’t going as planned.”
Well, the part I’d withhold is the depth of the frustration - how this inner perfectionist never ever is truly satisfied. How even if I achieve one thing, the goal line keeps moving further and further. How sometimes this inner perfectionist makes me take on more than I can chew or say that I don’t want to complete something or deliver because I’m/it’s “not ready yet.”
While perfectionism can be great to help us to strive and achieve more, on the shadow side, perfectionism can be maddening. It can cause us to hold impossible expectations for ourselves that are more about keeping us safe and protected vs. driving us to grow. In this way, perfectionism in fact is an insidious coping mechanism that can stop us from realizing our goals and full potential.
If you relate to this at all, make this your new mantra:
It’s 5 pm Costa Rica time, and I have finally arrived back from work. Right on queue, I sense a craving for sweets, specifically chocolate. “Come on, one piece won’t hurt. …” the voice of craving says. “It’s been a long day at work – I DESERVE a treat.” In fact, I’ve noticed that the voice has been saying this same message all week.
I'll admit I’m not perfect – even as a coach, sometimes I give into my cravings while other times I walk away (which feels great when I do!). When my emotional eating was at it’s worst, I found myself at the mercy of my cravings – unable to say no. What I recognize now is that when I’m not physically hungry, cravings for food often represent another need – perhaps something that my body, mind, or soul is hungry for at the time.
I have learned to be thankful for my cravings. They are clear messengers that something is off-balance in my body or in my life.