One of the things I love best about having a blog is that my writing is not set in stone. If I have a typo or a brilliant post-publish-thought, I can, in a few key strokes, make changes. I also love that my blog serves as a living, breathing storehouse for my teachings –– which are evolving –– and which must evolve –– as I do.
In early December I shared a post titled The 3 Steps to Loving Yourself which reflected my view of the stages I’ve passed through on my way towards inner peace. The are 1) make peace, 2) make friends, and finally, 3) make love.
Writing that “3 Steps” post lit a spark of clarity for me and led to many other core teachings coming into focus for me, including this one about how we relate to our hungers.
My experience personally and with my coaching clients is that there are four ways of being in relationship with our hungers: as enemy, indifferent, as friend, and in deep communion.
If you attended any of my Well-Fed Woman Retreatshops this won’t be new to you, but perhaps you’ll appreciate having it written down so you too can refer to it as needed.
My hope is that this framework will help you come into greater harmony with your hungers –– and ultimately –– become the Well-Fed Woman you were born to be.
While I wouldn’t have self-identified at the time, in my late teens and early 20’s I certainly related to my hungers (and often myself) as though they were the enemy. My hungers were big, mighty, unrelenting, and overwhelming. I didn’t feel worthy of feeding them, nor did I think it as possible. That warfare tactics offered to me were: denial, numbing, distraction, repression, and restriction, and strict repentance for any failures on the battlefield. I had internalized the idea that I needed to defend myself against these “beasts.” I was on high-alert and at the ready to stop any incoming enemy attack –– enemy being everything from calories and second helpings to hungers for touch or love.
In 2002, after a solid 6 months of therapy to treat my anorexia, I moved from relating to my hungers (and myself) as the enemy to a place I call indifferent. I describe indifferent as wholly neutral. Like looking blankly at a pen laying on a desk. There it is. I see you. I’m not threatened, nor am I motivated to take action to feed or avoid.
Sometimes I describe it as if a random stranger at a bus stop turned to you and said “I’m going to the post-office today.” You probably wouldn’t feel neither here nor there about that. Simply indifferent –– and sometimes we relate to our hungers this way. Ho-hum, nothing to do.
Often we relate to our hungers with indifference if we feel powerless to feed to them. If we think there is no hope and we have to way to satiate ourselves we shrug our shoulders, sigh, and move on (albeit still hungry).
Spurred by the Oprahfication of our world and my growing collection of self-help books I was able to move from being indifferent about my hungers to relating to them (and myself) as a friend. I began to have a natural warmth, curiosity, and kindness towards them. I felt inspired, rather than resistant or forced, to support and feed them. I softened and truly looked upon my hungers, for food or other primary needs, as friends delivering a message for my well-being.
This third stage – being our own best friend (and viewing our hungers as friends) – is often thought to be the holy grail of self-actualization, but I found a place beyond…
In Deep Communion
The only way I can really describe what it’s like to be in Deep Communion with one’s self and one’s hungers is to use the analogy of a child’s request for water. How would you receive a child’s request for water? Would you judge it? Would you ignore it? Would you insult the child or tell the child it wanted too much? No. You would, in a reflex, get the child a glass of water. You would trust wholeheartedly that the child knew best what it needed and you would act once asked.
If no water was immediately available, you would do what was needed to find it. Right?
From this place of Deep Communion we can receive all our hungers like the child’s request for water. Our hunger for touch, the ocean, meaningful work. We hear the call and we act.
If you’re wondering what to do if you don’t know HOW to feed a hunger, I’ll be writing more on this soon and remember, they’re patient.
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