My approach to diet involves recognising that I tend to overeat for two reasons: insufficient sources of pleasure and enjoyment in life, and as an escape from negative emotions.
In my case, what I thought was hunger was actually an impulse to distract myself from negative emotions.
The causes of negative emotion are different for all of us. That’s why I urge people to consider professional help and mental health support.
Like other forms of “addiction”, overeating can be a way of soothing and distracting from negative emotions. Studies into obesity have shown that for many, both the overeating and the weight gain can provide an unconscious solution to the problem of traumatic experiences such as abuse, neglect, and assault.
That’s why conventional diets don’t work for everyone. There’s an inner, often unconscious, struggle between the desire to lose weight for health and aesthetic and social reasons, and the desire to escape from very painful emotions or memories.
Have some compassion for yourself in this process. First, because you may be seeking to change behaviours that have been in place for years or decades. Second, because although self-medication with food or other substances tends to have negative side-effects in the long term, it’s also typically a case of doing the best we can under very difficult circumstances.
All things being equal, I doubt anyone prefers to be overweight. But all things are not equal. We work them out piece by piece over time, and compassion and understanding are not only deserved but essential.
If you practice feeling good/better/less bad/relief you will gradually encounter and then release all resistance within you.
You don’t have to go looking for it. It’s just like water flowing into a river and gradually eroding all obstacles and blockages.
And spontaneously issues will arise, discomfort, negative emotion and resistance. All you need to do is find relief and the answers will come.
Today my path of feeling good has brought me relief from some more resistance.
I learned as a child that I was wrong to feel good when those around me felt bad. I was told – and eventually accepted – that it was unfair and selfish for me to be happy when those around me were unhappy.
From this I understood that before I could legitimately be happy I had to share in the burdens and problems that were responsible for other people’s unhappiness.
As a simple example: it was put to me that I was happy because I wasn’t responsible for the upkeep of the family home. My compassionate response was to help, to lessen the burden on those who were suffering.
It took me many years to learn that this kind of “suffering” was not caused by burdensome tasks. Rather, people’s attitude and vibration of burden and suffering caused them to find corresponding tasks and use them as excuses to stay out of alignment with their own inner being.
There was nothing I could do to help a misaligned person find their alignment. The best thing I could have done at that time or at any time is to find my own alignment and not add momentum to others’ stories of trouble and woe.
The best and most compassionate thing I can do for anyone is to begin with compassion and love for myself, which means allowing myself to feel relief and practicing feeling good regardless of conditions and circumstances.
I don’t need others’ permission for me to feel good. I don’t need others to be happy as a prerequisite for my own happiness. I can be happy right now, and let those good feelings be enough for me.