You are not needy. You are starving.
Last week I was working with a client and we began to talk about the prospect of her finding a post-divorce relationship.
She shared her fear that she’d be too needy.
I’ve heard it before. Many times.
And I say: NO. You are not needy, you’re starving.
This client has a 5 year old boy.
I explained it to her like this…
If her son skipped breakfast, lunch, and dinner and then said “Mommy, I’m too needy for food.” I know she’d reply:
“No sweetheart, you aren’t needy at all, you’re very hungry. You haven’t gotten what you need. Now let’s get you something delicious to eat.”
Something about this needy feeling has us feeling like it’s bottomless, insatiable. That no matter how much we “eat” we’ll never be fed.
Not so. I speak from experience. Mine and that of too many of my clients.
Yes, it feels like we’ll never get enough. Just like, when we are starving for food, at first, we think we really could eat the whole kitchen. Not so in either case.
We can find satiation and that point when we’ve had enough…for the moment.
Here are just a few things I often hear women saying they are too needy for:
being seen (often confused with attention)
touch (the way they uniquely like it)
affection + adoration
a circle of women friends
being listened to + feeling understood
You’re not needy. You’re starving.
You certainly do not want for too much.
These are all entirely normal, natural, its-your-birth-right, your-parents-probably-didn’t-give-you-enough things.
So you’re starving. That’s okay.
You can begin there. Begin bit by bit. or bite by bite.
Begin by renaming this ‘neediness’ with a more accurate term: hunger.
Begin by asking for what you want.
Begin by honoring your hunger. by feeding yourself.
Begin by receiving the cravings with kindness, instead of shame.
This hunger of yours. It’s so wise.
You’re not needy. You’re simply starving.
Now darling, let’s get you something delicious to eat.
Note: I use the word ‘starving’ here to refer to often first-world emotional deprivation. Not to be confused with actual lack of nutrition needed for physical survival, which is a very real problem in our world.
I used to teach a course called Ease Hunting: Six Weeks of Discovering Every Exhale.
This powerful journey included lessons, live calls, an ease scavenger hunt, expert interviews, and two guided audio meditations all aimed at supporting the huntresses in discovering an easeful way of being, no matter what life was throwing their way. It was truly beautiful. One participant described it as “A yoga class for your mind.”
Spring is here and while the flowers may be blooming and the warmer weather lifting our spirits, I know that life is still challenging for many of us.
I woke up today wanting to support you in finding ease in your life right now. The Ease Hunting course isn’t currently on offer, but today I’m giving away the two Ease Hunting meditations.
These recordings, one for morning and one for evening, are simple 10 minute opportunities to recenter and rest. They were among the Ease Hunters favorite parts of their experience. Here are a few of their words:
“I’ve been using the PM mediation every day, and I’m going to keep using it. I loved that I could download the meditations onto my phone. That made it easy to listen to them on the go and also as I was falling asleep. Doing 15 minutes every day has definitely impacted my ease levels.”
“I liked having the meditations as a go-to if I needed them…when I did need them, they were both helpful and I’m grateful to have them as a tool in my toolbox. There was one morning in particular where I was fretting, and I said “ah, we have a tool for this: AM meditation.” I did it, and the fretting subsided and made way for some ease.”
If you’re needing a little more ease in your life or a supportive, simple way to start and end your day, here is my gift to you. To listen online, simply click the links. To download, hold down the option key and then click the links.
These days pinterest abounds with images of softly lit, sunrise horizons with “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” emblazoned across a mountainside. Or perhaps it’s a glistening ocean behind text that says “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
I believe life begins INSIDE of our comfort zones and only when we feel safe enough to stretch out does life (and our comfort zone) expand.
I am simply a huge fan of everyone feeling safe and I think safety has become linked up with weakness.
However, I have seen how safety allows us to blossom.
I believe that feeling safe is a prerequisite for connection, learning, relationship, growth, and for feeding our hungers.
The only time I have ever been able to heal or grow is when I first felt safe.
The only times I’ve been able to hear my own hungers calling for me is when I created a safe space for them.
The only times when I’ve been able to ask another to feed me is when I feel safe with them.
It’s true that we often want or need to do things that aren’t safe or don’t feel safe.
Taking the stage. Quitting the job. Asking someone out on a date. Trying something new and unknown.
It’s my experience though, that we have to feel a level of safety first.
It’s also my experience that women tolerate lives, situations, and relationships in which they are not safe to be who they are, want what they want, and say what they think and feel. This needs to change.
Needing safety does not a weak woman make.
It’s okay to value safety. In fact, it’s imperative.
It’s okay to ask someone to create a safer space for you. It’s okay to remove yourself when you don’t feel safe.
When we feel safe enough, we can sail away from the harbor.
I’ll leave you with a few questions for us to ponder:
Where in my life don’t I feel safe?
What factors create a sense of safety for me?
What would change if I felt a greater level of safety to be who I am, want what I want, and say what I think and feel?
Who don’t I feel safe around?
Who could I offer more safety to?
How could I offer myself more safety from which I could try new things?
Where am I pushing myself too far outside of my safety zone?
May we all be safe so we can soar.
I took April off of work.
I went to meet my nephew in Germany and on April 17th, 36 hours after my pain landed back on U.S. soil, I had my tonsils removed. No surprise, it’s been painful to talk.
During the recovery I learned to communicate with made up hand signs, scribbles on paper, and flash cards I’d prepared that said things like “Pain!” and “Thank you!”
Now May has rolled around, the pain has faded and speaking has becoming more effortless.
Eating with abandon has come back too. Hallelujah!
But my life isn’t just about speaking to my loved ones or being able to talk to the check out clerk at the grocery store.
I teach. I write. I communicate as part of my sacred vocation.
Being away last month and getting out of practice ‘speaking’ to you has left me feeling rusty. I could hear that all too common voice that says “What do you have to say that’s original? Look, there are all these other people saying the same thing as you. What makes you think anyone wants to hear your version? No one even noticed you were gone.”
In my experience, most of us know what this is like, even if we don’t have a blog and or teach in a classroom.
It’s simply not always easy to feel into the importance or worthiness of our voice.
Here is the perspective I use respond to these questioning voices:
I’ve read just about every book there is on the topic of eating disorders and making peace with our body and food. Seriously. I have.
Many of them say the same things and yet, for no logical or specific reason, only a few have really spoken to me. It’s not that they were better written, it’s simply that I needed to hear the information from one author and could not from another.
Have you had this experience? Two books that say the same thing and only one speaks to you?
Or a friend raves about a book that changed her life but it falls flat for you.
Perhaps there is a blogger out there that ‘everyone’ raves about but who’s voice does not connect with you.
Maybe you’ve had a group of people in your life each give you the same advice, but it was one single person who was able to get through to you.
It’s not logical and I don’t need to understand why this is the way things are.
I simply know that each voice matters and that my voice is the voice that will connect with someone out there when others do not.
This is true for your voice too. Whether it’s a book you want to write, a speech you want to give, or a truth you want to share with your best friend – it matters that YOU share it.
Your voice is like your thumbprint. It has a uniqueness that no one can match and it has the power to carry healing, change, and beauty into a world that needs these them.
Our voice won’t be heard by all. It won’t even be received positively all the time. It will rarely, if ever, be perfect.
I simply ask myself, what if Geneen Roth had never written Women, Food, & God because she thought that most of the content had already been written about by others? What if Brene Brown didn’t give her initial TedX talk because she thought to herself “Would anyone care if I didn’t show up?”
This perspective is what allows me to, often without finesse, begin to speak, teach, and write again. This is what allows me to hush those fearful voices. I have a deep faith that some people need to hear the wisdom I share from my voice in order for it to have an impact.
I have faith the same is true for you.
Our hungers are an eternal spring of wisdom and answers.
I wish I’d known this when I was younger, it would have saved me so much strife and anguish.
If I had known, I wouldn’t have have pursued answers, fruitlessly I might add, in so many places outside of myself.
If I had known that the well of wisdom was ceaseless and within myself I would not have sought to silence it.
It, this eternal spring, asked for simple things from me. It asked for human embrace. It asked for carbs – bread, pasta, and the like. It asked for permission to simply be. to be heard. to be listened to.
My spring of hungers asked for rest. and play. My spring of hungers said “Let our body be! Let it be soft. Let our body be whatever it wants to be.”
My spring of hunger said “Let others love us” and “Let’s love us.”
And it was the courageous act of yielding, of listening, of honoring that I allowed me to live my way into a very well-fed woman.
The path has not been linear. Going from relating to my hungers as enemies to being in deep communion with them has been a practice. It has, at times, been moment to moment and day by day. But over time it has become second nature.
This Way of The Well-Fed Woman, as I call it, has liberated me and over the past several years I’ve been lucky enough to witness it do the same for so many others.
I want this for every hungry woman out there. I want so much to live in a world where women trust their hungers, no matter how big they are or and live lives created from this guidance within.
In the spring 2004 I attended a large women’s reproductive rights march in Washington, DC. As we gathered, plackets in hand, Hillary Clinton on the microphone, I overheard a conversation between a few women who were standing next to me.
One woman said “What do you want to do for lunch?” The other replied “Oh, I’m skipping lunch this week. I’ve been so bad and need to slim down.” To which her replied with a chipper “Oh, okay!”
The only part of this story that has to do with food is that our relationship with food mirrors our relationship with all of our hungers.
Instead of her hunger for lunch, this woman could have just as easily been ignoring her hunger for creativity, or touch, or adventure. This is what so many of us do and I’m not here to claim that feeding ourselves is easy. Well, it’s not easy at first.
Aftercall, how do hear what we’re hungry for?
How do we know if what we’re hearing is our “true” hunger?
And once we hear it, what we do? How do we actually take a hunger, especially the big ones, and feed it?
I teach the answers to these questions. I equip hungry women with the tools, frameworks, practices, and love that it takes to live the Way of The Well-Fed Woman.
Someone asked me recently, “What does ‘being well-fed’ mean?” Kind of like when you say a word ten times fast it starts to sound funny. I say “well-fed” a whole lot and I totally get if it starts to sound like mumbo jumbo.
If this metaphor has felt elusive for you, perhaps my words here today have shed some clarity.
Being well-fed means believing 1) that your hungers are wise and serve as a compass pointing to what is needed now for you to be most fulfilled, 2) you are worthy of having your hungers fed, 3)that when you are well-fed you can be engaged in and most of service to the world, and 4) that a world full of well-fed people, especially women, would be a radically better place than the one we live in today.
If you believe these tenets, then your eternal spring is ready and waiting to guide you. You are ready to feast. If you believe these tenets and are hungry for support and guidance, I’m here.
Happy (eternal) springtime to all.