All addictive processes represent an effort to control feelings.
Even more than that, they represent an effort to keep life itself under control.
Addicts are hooked on things being one certain way (the way they “should” be), and are unable to just let things “be” to take their natural course.
Addiction is a response to resisting life’s natural course, and consistently wanting things to be better, or at least different than they are now. In that way, addiction represents a spiritual and emotional hunger, cutting us off from others who might be able to help.
Needless to say, it’s much easier to focus on trying to control a voracious appetite than to control the twists and turns of a life you didn’t expect, or to feel the emptiness or the terror and helplessness of the bad things that could potentially happen.
That’s why one addiction is often interchangeable with the next. Shedding one bad habit only leads to another – stop stress eating, take up overspending, revive an unhealthy relationship (of any kind) and/or become consumed with your to-do list.
As difficult as they are, addictions like stress eating provide a mute button for life’s realities or potential realities that we find so painful to think about. Anyone who has struggled with binge eating knows the trance-like state it can produce, as other more intractable problems fade into the background, at least for as long as we can keep up the binge behavior.
What to do?
Some people attempt to control eating in the same way that alcoholics control drinking – by abstinence, restrictive diets and food plans. But this kind of attempt always fails in the long run because there is too much focus on the food itself.
Food is not the problem. It’s your solution.
To recover from stress eating, as in any addiction, you have to look beyond the food.
If you stop stress eating, then you may find out what you are really hungry for – what then?
Who are you without stress eating?
Is stress eating just a bad habit? Something you do when life gets too stressful?
Or does it represent more of an emotional or spiritual hunger? Something you need . . . something you are starving for . . .
Often we resist looking at this issue or feeling the truth of it . . . because we don’t think we can get it, and that is just too painful.
But is that true?
That is an assumption we have made – that things will never change, that we cannot feel safe and nourished in our current reality . . . so we may as well eat.
Questioning those assumptions that lead to stress eating in the first place . . . hmmm . . . do you dare?
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