Soothers OTHER than food

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You have a story.  There are strong reasons you do what you do in everything from eating emotionally to cleaning your teeth to dressing yourself.  It’s a learned pattern of doing things in a way that seems easiest to us.

The easiest way to deal with our emotional baggage is to eat, taking familiar comfort from the oral soothing and the hit of dopamine in our brains.  Easy and instantly rewarding, and we’re wired to go toward that.

Except it doesn’t actually last, does it? It works in the moment, but then it’s gone, and guilt (or shame) sets in.

The hard way is facing the emotional baggage, unpacking the painful bits, healing the wounds, and learning new ways to soothe ourselves.  Yup – that’s quite a task, and the baggage likely comes from a situation that never should have happened.

Who Do We Blame?

Parents are the easy target, and fair play, they probably didn’t always do a perfect job.  Some were guilty of abuse and trauma, and no child deserves that, yet you live with the results. 

We can recognize that our parents were human, they may not have been well-parented themselves, and they can’t give what they don’t have, yet you live with the results. 

We hope they’d do better than their own experiences, but honestly, we know what it’s like when it’s us trying to make changes.  We can recognize it all, yet you live with the results. 

When you feel the pain of those hurts, the go-to soother is often food.  It’s natural, it’s normal, it’s easy, it’s what we’ve learned.  Yet the go-to follow-up to that is often beating yourself up.  Maybe you shame yourself, call yourself names – say things you wouldn’t say to someone else, but anything hurtful is fair game when you’re talking to yourself.  And you continue to live with the results.

Healing the Wound

Here’s the rub:  If you’re beating yourself up, how are you parenting your heart any better than your parents did? 

Guilty?  We often use the same methods our parents did to change our behavior.  Hasn’t helped yet, has it?  It drives us back to food for comfort, and we wonder why we can’t get a handle on this behavior.

You can’t get a handle on it because you’re further wounding yourself – not giving yourself enough care and compassion to let the wound even scab, much less heal. 

If your parents had said just the right thing to you, what would it have been?  Practice saying that and being that kind to yourself.  It won’t feel easy the first time. Still, the more you practice it – even stopping yourself in the midst of it or rewinding and practicing it later – the more natural it will become.  Best part?  Your heart will begin to heal. 

How can you reparent your heart differently so you can actually heal?

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