If we are starving, we are more likely to eat anything we can find without any concern for our wellbeing, but when we are full and content, we are more selective about when and what we eat.
This is true both with regard to our choices about the literal food that we eat and the figurative “food” that we consume within our interactions and relationships with other people and other things. What comes to mind for me are all the ways in which we might be searching for who we are from outside ourselves. Just as a container with a big hole in it, we can have places in our relationship to ourselves that are like gaping holes and despite repeated efforts to fill it up, it never gets full.
In such instances, there is an insatiable appetite for something or someone to fill us up and make us feel full. We don’t yet realize who we are, so we look to someone else to tell us. In many cases, this is how one might become stuck in an unhealthy relationship. He or she has depended on another person to tell them who they are, to validate who they are. So, when another person gets to define who we are and decide when to “feed” us and when to “withhold nourishment,” we are now in a relationship in which our survival is uncertain.
If our survival depends on the “I love/need you, you are beautiful, you are strong, you are worthy” statements given by someone else, then what happens when those are replaced with harsh criticism and disapproval or belittling and depreciating statements? What happens to our sense of “fullness”?
We don’t yet recognize our worth, so we buy things, then more things to surround ourselves with to establish our value. This is when we adorn our external selves and outer territory with costly items without attending to our internal selves and inner territory. We might keep a check on how we are doing by comparing our “stuff” to other folks’ stuff. This becomes the gauge by which we determine our value, worth, and identity. When this is the case, what then happens to our value, worth, and identity when we are stripped of our “stuff?”
A belief that you are inadequate, not good enough, unlovable, and/or unworthy, is an indication of starvation. In starvation mode, we allow ourselves to “eat” things that erode our inner being. Sex without intimacy and love, drugs and alcohol, impulsive shopping, people pleasing and even impulsive eating are all ways we might attempt to fill ourselves up. The deceiving part is that these all work temporarily to give you a sense of “fullness.” However, these are all sugared up, empty calories with no sustenance or real nutritional value. So, just like that donut for breakfast, you may get a burst of energy or a sugar high, but in only a short time later, you will need something else. Any benefit was short lived and the search for more begins again.
So then what is being full about? While I think the answer may differ for each of us, I believe this bit to be true for all of us and that is that it begins within. Spiritual, mental, and emotional starvation are the gaping holes in our relationship to ourselves and “no-thing” or person outside of us can do the work to fill or repair them.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.