As I woke up this morning, I was reflecting on a phenomenon I’ve been noticing, which is that I receive far more comments on my articles that are not tools-oriented but more information and thoughts to ponder, than I do on my offerings that have specific steps attached, designed to help you achieve your goals.
I lay there, reflecting on this pattern and noticed that I began to feel a little unsettled, “the niggle” was up! As I asked myself what needs I had that weren’t being met that were triggering that niggle, the answer became clear: I want my readers to be successful in their healing. I don’t want them to stay stuck in the use of food to cope when they don’t have to. I want my writing to inspire them and motivate them to try doing something differently. Okay, so my needs were for purpose and significance and connection for me and ease, freedom and peace for you.
1. I was making assumptions about you! I was lying there in my ultra-comfy bed telling myself stories about you and those stories were causing me distress. I was telling myself that the lack of comments on tools-related articles was because I wasn’t a motivating writer and/or because I had failed to teach the tool in a way that was easy to understand and use. In other words, I was making big assumptions, telling myself harmful stories, and those stories were making me feel that niggly, anxious feeling because I was telling myself, based on those assumptions, that I had needs that weren’t being met. And I wasn’t telling myself that “maybe” I needed to change my teaching style I had bought into that story as “the truth.” That’s why I felt the niggle.
That sense of dis-tress or dis-ease never arises when we’re still open to any possibility, it only arises when, consciously or unconsciously we’ve attached to one story as “the truth.” And usually, it’s not the truth, or certainly not all of the truth. As soon as I realized what I had been doing, I laughed and asked myself if I wanted to continue to make those assumptions, or did I want to check them out, or did I want to just let them go. I let them go, and decided to check them out also, but from a place of genuine inquiry and openness and not from a place of wanting to confirm or refute my assumption. Anything could be true, myriad explanations exist. Why would I want to harm myself by fixating on one story when there were so many possible ones?
2. The other thing I was reminded of when I recognized my niggle, my needs and the assumptions that triggered them both was that I have no right to have needs for you, or of you. As Byron Katie, a teacher whose work I greatly appreciate would say: It’s either your business, their business, or God’s business, and you have no business being in anyone else’s business! (okay, she’s more eloquent than that, but you get the drift?) I was in your business, telling myself stories about what you should be doing, how you should be using the tools (assuming that you weren’t), what I should be hearing and how often, etc. All of this was happening semi-consciously in a split second, and the only indicator I had that any of this was going on was my little niggle.
That’s my cue, and yours too, that one of 2 things is happening:
1. You really do have needs in the present that are not being met (i.e. you are hungry, you have to go to the bathroom, you’ve misplaced your keys and you’re late)
2. You’re hooked into a harmful story that has you fixated on a worst-case-scenario outcome and, rather than telling yourself it’s one of myriad possibilities, you’re telling yourself it’s going to happen and you need to steel yourself and prepare, hence, up comes the niggle that represents all the needs you’re telling yourself won’t be met when that worst-case-scenario thing happens. Once I realized that I was getting hooked into stories about how you, my readers, “should” be using the tools, and that you weren’t, I could laugh at myself and let it go. I really do trust you to know what you need, when you need it and to make use of my offerings in the way that feels like the best fit at the right time for you. I just needed to remind myself of that!
For you, if you’re still using food to cope, this process of stories being pitched to you by your Drill Sgt. and then being logged as truth is probably happening 24/7. Those stories trigger you to feel anxious/niggly because that anxiety is an appropriately occurring in response to the needs you’re telling yourself aren’t being, or won’t be met because of that story. The anxiety/niggly feeling triggers you to feel overwhelmed because you don’t know where it’s coming from and the overall story you slip into is “something bad is going to happen, it’s going to be my fault, and there’s nothing I can do about it, time to check-out!” And out come the food and body focus, the alcohol, the procrastination, the isolation….whatever your drug of choice.
The solution really is simple. As you can see in my sharing above, we can’t stop our minds from ever telling us stories but we can quite easily get to a place where those stories hardly ever arise, and when they do, we notice them right away, assess their validity and move on from a place of peace and self-awareness. Once you realize the connection between thoughts and your use of food to cope, and start using some tools to attend to your thoughts more effectively, you will cease to use food to cope, guaranteed!