Today I’m going to talk about using sugar or food as your voice. One of my mentors, Dr. Gabor Mate, talks about how we can act out. If we literally look at what the phrase means, it means that rather than expressing how we’re feeling or what we’re needing with our words, that we can use our behavior to be that expression of how we’re hurting, or what we’re needing, or what we’re longing for.
If you don’t feel like you have a voice – maybe it’s something difficult, or painful or uncomfortable, or maybe you’re afraid that what you need to voice might cause others discomfort or potential conflict – so rather than using your voice to express what you’re needing and what you’re feeling and what’s in your heart, you may use food.
You may use a binge. You may use sugar. You may use not eating.
It can also be pulling away – maybe you’re feeling really scared inside, and so you’re wanting to control what you’re eating, and get super, super clean about your eating, or maybe it’s that you feel lonely, or maybe that you feel so frustrated and you feel despair like things will never change, and so all you can do is eat, that’s your only comfort, because nothing else will be different. All those different ways that you act out to express what’s in your heart.
It doesn’t really matter what the behavior is as much as what it means to you. But that can be your voice, and your way of expressing yourself and saying, “I’m hurting, or I’m scared, or I don’t like that, or I feel lonely, or I feel frustrated.” Whatever is in you, it’s coming out as an expression through the vehicle in some shape or form of food.
If you resonate with this, what I would invite you to do is recognize that it’s something very tender – that it is an expression coming from somewhere deep inside of you. It may come out in ways that look a little wonky, or sideways, but that longing that’s driving towards that outward behavior has an intention based in a desire to love and care for yourself.
One of my favorite ways that this has been expressed is by an Indian teacher named Sri Nisargadatta. He says that, “Your flight from pain and your seeking after pleasure is a sign of the love that you bear for yourself.” So every binge, every diet, every restriction, every episode of overeating, all of them are a sign of the love that you bear for yourself.
With this shift in perspective of recognizing that it is our desire to love and care for ourselves that is causing us to act out in ways that might be a little bit messy, that might bring some painful consequences with them, we see the root of that is love and kindness. Then the task becomes how do I find my voice in my life, so I don’t have to use a binge or a perfect diet, or the quest for a perfect body, or obsessive food restriction as my way of expressing what’s right here in my heart?
You might want to play with this, and pause a moment when you notice you’re feeling driven to the refrigerator, or notice when you’re feeling driven to not eat, or you’re feeling driven to read another magazine to get the secret to finally get the body that you’ve always dreamed of, that you can sit just with your heart, and ask yourself: “If this had a voice what would it say? And what is it needing from me right now?”