Overeating

Overeating is a complicated affair.

Personally, I find that it happens to me when things are really challenging in my life. Part of me believes that I need more food and that it will help soothe me or satisfy some craving I have.

But what occurs instead is that I gain weight, experience painful acid reflux, and have very poor-quality sleep. You’d think these results would be enough to prevent me from continuing to overeat.

They aren’t. They don’t.

Another part of me enters the picture. I think to myself, this has to be easy to resolve, I’ll just eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer snacks and treats. Surely, this will make things better for me.

And perhaps this would be true if the part of me that wants to overeat wasn’t resistant. But it is.

There is a constant war of sorts between periods of control and excess.

I find it strange that while on vacation, I give myself permission to eat whatever and whenever I want. This of course leads to weight gain, but never as much as I would have anticipated, probably because my activity level is so high. So, maybe if I maintained this same level of activity after vacation it would be okay.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t work for me.

I ask myself, what’s really happening here?

I am struck immediately by one obvious answer. I am at peace on vacation. I don’t have hundreds of things I’m thinking about and feel the need to accomplish. I’m not emotional taxed on vacation.

This leads me to another observation and a more important set of questions.

What other reasons are contributing to my overeating? Are they emotionally based? Are they resolvable?

Am I hung up with my looks and how I see myself? Am I thinking about how others see me? Do I seek or need or want their approval? And if so, why?

To a degree overeating feels circular to me. There is a cause-and-effect riddle that faces me and asks to be addressed.

I’m tired of the game and want answers, so I decide to plunge in. I realize everyone’s situation is different and that you’ll want to substitute your own emotional clues, if mine don’t make sense to you. But it might prove helpful to read along and adjust where necessary.

For me, I believe overeating is emotionally based and arises inside me from different directions.

Judgements. The judgement process might begin with others, but over time I find that unless I’m very careful, I internalize others’ views and criticisms of me.

Comparisons. Whether initiated by others or ourselves, any form of comparison is damaging and unfair. We are all unique people and have our own paths to travel.

Ideals. Self-created or adopted from others, having specific ideals of exactly how we ‘should’ look, act or feel is extremely limiting and offers us no true way to feel good about ourselves.

Having considered these words, I am now more aware of their emotional impact on me and sense they are driving some of my emotional weight and desire to overeat.

If you give yourself a chance to sit and listen to your emotions, body, mind, and spirit, perhaps you’ll discover some reasons of your own.

In my next post I’d like to offer you one possible way to release any emotional weight you carry, whether from overeating or another source.

Different Angles

Every so often Maureen and I have our two local grandchildren come for a sleep over. It’s a grand affair and we have tons of fun. My six-year-old grandson, Evan, and I are the early risers.

Recently he and his sister, Kirsten, were here for the weekend, arriving Saturday afternoon. The next morning, I got up and quietly went upstairs to my office and began writing. After a few minutes I heard his feet on the stairs and watched as he pushed the door open and came over to me. He sat in my lap and we surveyed my office walls, which are filled with some of my most treasured memories. He had lots of questions, as I suspected he would.

I pointed to a picture straight in front of us and asked if he knew who was in it. He didn’t, so I told him that it was his mom when she was about four-years-old.

We swiveled in the chair and I asked if he knew who drew the sequence of about five pictures I aimed a finger at. He thought for a minute, but wasn’t sure. I told him they were done by his mom. He commented, “those are really good!”

I love those pictures and the beautiful child who drew them. I am so grateful for the love I share with her and now with her children as well.

When I glanced again at her pictures, it occurred to me that we all see things from a different vantage point. We somehow evaluate with different criteria and assess, perhaps, according to our own skill level. And, we’re impressed or not, often based on comparisons.

It made me realize that whenever we use comparisons, we open ourselves and create many opportunities for distress and dissatisfaction, rather than just appreciating something as it is.

This isn’t the only way of seeing things. Instead of using a comparison, with our own or others ‘work’, we sometimes set up an ‘ideal’, then judge according to it. We allow ‘experts’ in the field to establish standards or norms and accept these as the rule. Think, ‘standardized tests’ for one.

I wonder what other ways there are. Perhaps there are different angles we could take. I thought it might be worth some of my time to consider.

One could be where ‘no ideal’ is set and where an individual would be encouraged to pursue their own personal development.

As it relates to schooling, there is such a process, known as the Montessori method. It leans on the principles of self-directed activities, hands-on learning and collaborative play. Children make their own creative choices in their learning and have highly trained teachers to help guide them.

Imagine how good that must feel to a child, to have some say about the direction their education and their life takes.

I wonder how children in this program do, once they are out in the world. Are they better prepared or are they hampered because they haven’t had to conform to strict rules and regulations?

When I was in college I was able to participate in an experimental program called, The Living Learning Center. There were freshmen through seniors and we all lived in the same dorm and took a set of common classes together. We had several professors who were dedicated to our program and stayed with us the entire year. It was fantastic and as a senior, I learned more during that year than I did during my previous three. I’ve always been grateful for this experience and recognize that many of my ideas and sense of freedom came from this year in my life.

I find that taking a broad approach and looking for different angles has opened my world and made for a much happier life.

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