I spent years struggling with my weight. During these years, I learned about healthy eating, and even with eating all organic foods and finding the right nutrition plan for me, as well as the right exercise for me, I still struggled with my weight.
Then I discovered the underlying cause of weight issues and the powerful secrets to permanent weight loss, and my weight struggles ended! Here are the secrets I learned that can help you make peace with emotional eating, and end your weight loss struggles.
1. Acknowledge your feelings.
The primary cause of emotional eating is that food is being used to avoid core painful feelings — feelings that we could not manage when we were little, and that most adults have never learned to lovingly manage.
It took me years to fully understand what these specific feelings are, why they’re so difficult to feel, and what we need to do to be able to feel them rather than avoid them with food and other addictions.
The main feelings we use food to avoid are:
We feel loneliness when we want to connect with someone and either no one is there, or the person or people who are there are not available for connection.
Most of us experienced much loneliness as children. Since this feeling was way too big for us, we learned to avoid it in different ways, and food may have been one of the ways.
Most of us had our hearts broken over and over as children. It’s heartbreaking when we aren’t heard or seen or are controlled, rejected or abused. We learned various ways of avoiding this very painful feeling, including eating for comfort.
If we’ve experienced a major loss and were not held in love over the loss, we needed to find ways of avoiding this overwhelming feeling.
Helplessness over others and events
This is one of the hardest of feelings to feel. Many of us will do almost anything to avoid accepting and feeling helpless over others and outcomes. This avoidance may go all the way back to infancy: if we cried and no one came to feed us and tend to us, we could have died, so the feeling of helplessness over others may become connected with an actual fear of dying.
2. Don’t abandon yourself.
As children, we may have learned four major ways to avoid these painful feelings, which we had to do to survive. But as adults, these survival strategies lead to self-abandonment and cause other painful feelings — such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, loneliness, emptiness, and anger. Just as actual children feel alone, rejected and abandoned, as well as anxious, depressed, shamed or angry if you avoid tending to their feelings with compassion, your inner child — your feeling self — feels the same way.
The four ways you may be abandoning yourself are:
You stay in your mind rather than in your body.
When you stay focused in your mind, you become disconnected from the feelings in your body. This is a form of dissociation, a survival mechanism to avoid your feelings, and always results in feeling alone and rejected inside.
You judge yourself.
You might have learned to judge yourself as a way to try to have control over getting yourself to do things “right” so you could gain others’ approval. Again, just as actual children feel anxious and rejected when you judge them, your inner child will feel anxious and abandoned when you reject yourself with self-judgments.
You turn to substance and process addictions.
Here’s where food comes in. Food is one addictive way of numbing your feelings, which you might do when you don’t know how to lovingly manage your painful feelings.
You make others responsible for your feelings.
Just as an actual child will feel rejected and abandoned if you give him or her away, so your inner child feels alone, rejected and abandoned when you give him or her to others in order to feel loved, worthy and safe.
To heal from addictive eating, you need to learn to lovingly manage your painful feelings and make yourself feel loved, worthy and safe.
3. Love yourself.
When you learn to love yourself, you’ll no longer need to emotionally eat to avoid your painful feelings. When you learn to hold your heart with deep gentleness and compassion, rather than avoid your feelings with the above ways of abandoning yourself, you will find yourself losing weight and permanently keeping it off. When you learn to fill your inner emptiness and loneliness with love from a spiritual source, you will no longer need to fill up with food.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author, relationship expert & Inner Bonding® facilitator. She has counseled individuals & couples since 1968. She is the author/co-author of eight books, including the internationally best-selling Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?, Healing Your Aloneness, Inner Bonding, and Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah, as well as on the unique and popular website Inner Bonding & of the transformational self-healing/conflict resolution software program, SelfQuest®. Click here for a FREE Inner Bonding course.