The beliefs and perceptions that we adopt as children – how we view others, ourselves, and our world – commonly shape our life experience, even into adulthood. These ingrained belief systems can be a contributing factor to addiction, eating disorders, and food compulsions like overeating or sugar bingeing. To find freedom from these painful coping strategies, it helps to investigate the underlying beliefs we carry.
If you identify with sentiments such as: “I’m too much, I’m not enough, I can’t trust myself, There’s something wrong with me,” then I invite you to this excerpt from When Food is Your Mother.
In this audio you’ll learn:
- About some of the most common beliefs established in childhood
- Why the pain of these beliefs often fuels you to overeat
- And how you can let them go through the adaptive grieving process
Where I see some of the deepest suffering of people who struggle with sugar addiction I see that they tend to carry a lot of beliefs forward into their lives as adults. Beliefs that as a child they used to make sense of their world. I am going to list some of the most common that I hear.
Then I will talk a little bit about how we let them go through this adaptive grieving process and how we can be free of the feelings that arise.
So here are some of the most common beliefs that I have seen. It’s all my fault, this has to do with the feelings of over-responsibility. I should be in control. I shouldn’t need. If I were perfect, I wouldn’t get hurt. A cousin of that is, If I were perfect, people would love me. I need to be more together. If I were more together I would always make the right decisions and I wouldn’t hurt. I’m too much. I’m too sensitive. There is something wrong with me. I should be more blank or the converse of that is, I should be less. I can’t be angry. I can’t be sad. I can’t be lonely. I can’t be needy.
Whatever it was that you didn’t feel like you could be as a child – “I’m not enough. I can’t trust myself” – this is what we seek outside ourselves for an answer: “There is a perfect solution out there somewhere and if I only study hard enough and search hard enough I will find it.” Trying to do things perfectly or idealism. A belief that no one is there. A belief that I can’t trust anyone to be there for me. A belief that I am unlovable.
So these are beliefs that many of us might be feeling about ourselves as adults and they impact our relationships around us. They impact our relationship with ourselves. They impact our relationships with others. These beliefs come out in our relationships with food.
The pain of these beliefs often fuels overeating. We often overeat or seek something to soften the pain of these. These beliefs can arise for any child, when it is confronted with pain that feels outside of their control. Because they are children and they are not in control, because they are dependent on the adults and their care, they will try to make sense of their world. These beliefs are the beliefs of a child and are at their root, they are immature. It is not a child’s fault, certainly, that the child may carry these beliefs. As adults what we tend to do is just carry these beliefs forward.
One way of healing these beliefs is recognizing. These beliefs can be a way to avoid adaption and to afford the process. As long as we are believing a belief of, I should be in control or I should in need or I can’t trust anyone to be there for me or I’m too much and too sensitive and we can get caught in trying to effect change around that. So we try to be more in control. We try to need less or we try to be less sensitive. Are all those things that we think are too much about us, we try to make them less much. Try to be less intense or less emotional or less sensitive. And we think that if I just change, I just affect change, I can make it work.
So we are trying to make it work. What we need to do instead, our tasks as adults is to let go off childish things and I say that with so much compassion. It’s to release these childish beliefs. These beliefs arose as a source of protection. They are how we protected ourselves from things at the time that felt too much to bear. As adults, we need to grieve these beliefs and let them go. In my experience it’s often easier to remain bound to these beliefs, to keep trying to make them work, to keep believing that they are true rather than letting them go. Because what are these beliefs protecting us from?
They are protecting us from feelings of loss. If we are blaming ourselves, all these are forms of self blame. Something didn’t work for you as a child. Maybe you didn’t feel seen by the ones that you loved. Maybe whenever something went wrong in your home, you took that pain on yourself and you said, ‘oh, its all my fault.’ Maybe you didn’t feel like you could have all your emotions and people could still love you. Maybe you felt like that there was some chaos in your early life and you have felt like you should have been the one controlling them. Maybe you felt like you had to be perfect to be loved.
As long as you are believing these things and taking on the self blame, what you are not feeling, is the root loss. You are not feeling the root loss of, I didn’t felt seen, I didn’t feel like I could have all emotions and still be loved, I didn’t feel like I could be imperfect and be lovable, I didn’t feel safe, I didn’t feel secure, I felt like I had to be in-charge, I felt like if things were going haywire I needed to fix it or simply the chaos was painful for me as a child.
Those things that felt out of control, they hurt. I hope this makes sense. These beliefs that we carried as young children and that many of us carried forward today, they are pointing to our need to feel the loss and the sorrow that is underneath them. So that we can let them go.