If you’re stuck in overeating, sugar addiction or binge eating, you may feel desperate for change. You may long for momentum – a way to stop these painful behaviors, lose the weight, and regain your health. Of course!
If you feel like you lack momentum to stop overeating, you may resort to force. You may reason, “If I just use enough force, I can power my way through it.” Because we often equate power or strength with force, we may think that the only way to find the power in ourselves, that inner strength to move things forward with food, is through force: we think we’ve got to persuade it, make it happen, beat it with a stick, or coerce it.
True power does not come from force. Nor does it come from exacting the right consequences or applying the right pressure or offering the correct reward to make yourself “toe the line” and stop overeating. Power arises from relationship.
My friend, if you struggle with compulsive overeating, there are parts of you that act out in food or sugar. (They’re not acting out on purpose; they’re simply trying to meet a need.) And there are other parts of you that don’t want to act out in food or sugar.
If you try to make yourself “behave” by overpowering, forcing, berating, cajoling, or shaming those hurting, young parts of you into submission, it will not work. You’ll only harden your heart, create more frustration, and entrench yourself deeper into your patterns.
The way to support momentum, and the way to find the power to foster change and growth with food, is through loving, compassionate relationship: the relationship that you have with yourself.
When you “have your heart in safekeeping” – a beautiful phrase from Dr. Gordon Neufeld – you have the inherent, natural, intuitive power that comes from loving relationship and connection. Your reactive, primitive, young parts (the parts that act out in food) feel cared for, come down, and relax, rather than feeling shamed or overpowered.
When you have the power of relationship, you have the ability to ask difficult or painful things of yourself like not eating sugar, you have the internal authority to tell yourself no, and you have the internal comforter that makes the no bearable. With relationship, you have the fuel for change.
Listen to the podcast or read the transcript to learn more.
Wanting more hand on help?
- To learn more about how to create a loving, attuned relationship with yourself, I invite you to explore When Food is Your Mother, an 8 week course to heal the roots of overeating, binge eating, or sugar addiction. Rather than managing, controlling or coping with the overeating or bingeing behavior, you’ll learn how to heal your need for food and sugar in the first place.
“This is a great question. It’s an experience and a feeling that I think everyone can resonate with. There is that inherent inner tension when you’re longing for something of that you’re longing for it, and at the same time there’s this fear of being able to actually have it, or this fear if having what we need also entails a letting go process where we’re experiencing some form of loss. There can be a sense of alarm or panic about, “Well, can I handle that?”
So we find momentum in doing and in taking that one step that’s different. Yet, how we’re able to do that, how we’re able to do something different, is actually the fruit of an internal process.
Our typical way of approaching momentum is to want to force it and to want to make it happen. It’s this idea of if I just put enough force on something, I can power my way through it.
Where true power comes from is not through force. Think about one of the most powerful forces in the world–water. Think of what force can be in water in a hurricane or in a flood. Tremendous force, and yet water can also flow very gently in a stream, in a trickle. When it hardens into ice it is incredibly thick and strong. Yet, it can also evaporate into mist and into condensation.
When we think about something like water and how it can also flow around obstacles, it has the possibility and the power to do that. If you’re just looking at water as something gentle that can trickle down a stream, we forget of the power in it. I think looking at water as a metaphor for how we approach power is helpful.
Because a lot of our ways of looking at power and strength are about this idea of force, and we think that the only way to find the power in ourselves, that inner strength in ourselves to move things forward, we think we’ve got to persuade it, or make it happen, or beat it with a stick, or coerce it.
You can’t beat water. You can’t force it with a stick. What you can do is you can provide a channel and river banks for it to flow.
In my experience when myself or when I’ve worked with others who are struggling with issues of power and momentum, it’s because there’s an external timetable that they’re wanting to enforce. Then, they’re wanting tools and strategies to make themselves toe the line according to that timetable and schedule that’s in their heads, rather than seeing how things are moving and supporting that flow.
Because how truth growth and maturation works is it is a flow and it’s a flow of energy. We can, again, support that, particularly with those river banks which are your structures. But we can’t demand that it flows. It is the lack of feelings of power in ourselves that make us want to force it.
I find it helpful to think about this in terms of parenting and children. This is coming, again, from my mentor, Dr. Gordon Neufeld: where the power to parent comes from is the relationship that you have with your child if you’re a parent. That is what creates all kinds of dynamics that then actually facilitate a child’s cooperation.
It’s their attachment to you that facilitates their “good behavior.” The lack of that attachment when a child doesn’t feel like they have your heart, like their heart is in safe keeping– that’s a beautiful phrase from Dr. Neufeld–they are resistant. And they don’t feel safe and they’re not able to let down and trust in your care and your provision. They’re not going to want to follow you.
So, if we apply this to our internal relationship with ourselves, if we don’t have our own hearts, if we don’t feel lovingly in tune to all the stuff that goes inside of us, then in a similar way we have no power and we have no ability to ask difficult or painful things of ourselves like not eating sugar. We have no internal authority and a way of telling ourselves no, we can’t erect the river banks.
And when we don’t have that power, the power that’s found in relationship, then we will try to force down upon it. We will erect sanctions. We will try to bribe ourselves. We’ll use punishments and rewards. We’ll try to force. Because we don’t have that inherent, natural, intuitive power that comes from loving relationship and connection.
So, whenever it feels like there’s a dearth of power in your life that is always a sign for me of how is your relationship with yourself. You know, we’re these dynamic beings, and we have lots of different parts, and emotions, and feelings that come up. We have all this kind of messy, mucky
humanity. How we relate to that humanity does affect our responses and our willingness to honor our deeper intentions.