Most of these resolutions fail. They failed for me, too.
Inside my dear head, there’s a hard charging, hard driving, striving part who likes to push myself very, very hard. It’s this part of me that would typically make New Years resolutions to lose weight and to eat less; and it was this part of me that would ride me and beat me up for falling short.
According to this part of me – my internal slavedriver – my problem is simply a lack of self discipline and self control. I just needed more will power. So I’d try harder and harder and push myself harder and harder to stop overeating. It would work – for a week or so.
But then I’d run out of steam. I’d stop trying. I’d give up. I’d buckle underneath the pressure; I’d give into the very overeating that I wanted to consciously change. And I always ended up feeling defeated, hopeless - fragile – like there was something fundamentally wrong with me.
Dear one, there’s nothing wrong with you, or with me. What was flawed was my approach to change. I was trying to use my will power, logic, and discipline to control the internal pain that was coming out in food, fat and sugar.
How warm and comforting is that? Not very warm at all. Because that hard charging, striving, driving part of me just hated those messy, young, vulnerable, wounded parts of me that would binge, overeat, and make all these messes in my life. I felt that self hatred, and it fed my shame – and fed my need to eat even more.
So the emotional pain won every time. It overpowered my inner slavedriver; it overpowered my conscious will. I would binge, I would overeat, I would eat an entire bag of Twizzlers…
After years of this struggle, I turned to self compassion. I was incredibly skeptical, but desperate. Through my practice of self compassion, I finally realized this truth: I would not change my painful bingeing by overpowering, cutting out and beating up on those young, hurting parts of me. In fact, they actively resisted changing, because they felt so hurt by my striving, by my hatred and lack of empathy.
I could not change my painful habits as long as I hated them.
I could only change my painful habits by befriending them; by understanding them; by caring for them. By loving the very parts of me that I hated.
The way out of painful behavior is not through the will; through logic; through striving. Habit change – and the discipline, and the strength, and the power you need to ride through the uncomfortable journey of change – arises from the heart.
With our heart we can see that cravings aren’t wrong. Emotional pain isn’t wrong.
It’s there, in all of us.
Beloved, you will never do enough inner work so that you never experience another food craving again. They may soften, sure – that’s been my experience. But they’re going to come up again at some time. Because cravings are signs of hurt. They’re a symbol of unmet needs. They’re a sign that you’re human and that you need; that you feel.
So don’t make yourself wrong when you crave food. Don’t make yourself wrong when you want to overeat. Don’t make yourself wrong for needing. It’s not your fault.
Turn towards your hurt. Turn towards your pain. Turn towards your soft core of tenderness.
Rather than trying to control, minimize, or make your cravings go away, grow your ability to care for them. Cravings are a way you grow a bigger heart; how you stretch and expand to say yes, to love this part of you: the part of you that hurts and needs. Love your tender parts. Scoop them up, hold them in your arms and say, “Sh, sh it’s okay. I’m here. I will take good care of you.”
This self care is a form of spiritual reparenting; of loving these young parts of ourselves – parts that continue to act out in our daily lives in all those bad habits that we’re trying so hard to change.
When you turn towards your cravings and love them; when you nurture these tender, hurting parts of yourself, your cravings soften. It’s what you most desperately, deeply need. The pull for food – the easy, go to substitute for this care and compassion – isn’t so strong.
You find the ability to change, to grow, to honor your desire; to honor your re-solution. You find the ability to change through the power of tenderness; through the power of unconditional love.
Needing more hands on help?
If you liked this post, here are some more resources for you:
- Sign up for my free newsletter to receive weekly goodness.
- The 30 Day Lift is a 30 day guide to compassionate habit change. While it’s meant for those who are wanting to reduce the amount of sugar they eat, you can use it gently shift any habit.
- You may also enjoy reading these articles on compassionate habit change:
- How to soften impulsive thoughts
- Why will power is not the answer
- A video blog on moving from control to care