I was nervous to send last week’s post. But the reaction was incredible! Tons of emails of people who could “soooo relate.” Some of you sharing it made you cry.
For showing me I’m not alone.
And my big fear, about exposing my “unpopularity”, that it might make others question me, turned out to be irrelevant.
Another cost of my perceived isolation is that I pulled back my writing here. On what I’ve been working on with my health. With you, people I care about.
I’ll be sharing more about the insights I’ve had recently about the “aftermath” of truly coming to peace with food as to support you on your own Truce with Food quest.
I bet you’re also unintentionally pulling away. From people you care about. Today’s post helps you get started on the crossing over to connection. Tis’ the season ripe with opportunity (at least you can look at it that way!).
The Bridge to Intentional Caring
Others are biologically and emotionally essential to survival and thriving.
The first step to connecting is:
Change the car.
Sometimes we know what we need from our relationships. And don’t follow through. And sometimes we just don’t know.
Either way, scheduled time in solitude reacquaints you with you. Having space to sort out your thoughts and hear your intuition is what you need.
Walking in nature as meditation or adult coloring books are my favorites.
Fifteen minutes is a great time frame to start. It’s short enough you won’t cancel on yourself and it’s enough to feel the benefits.
The more you’re with yourself, the less isolated, invisible and small you feel.
This is the paradox, and how change occurs: what we embrace, dissolves.
Here’s how this happens:
The less other people’s approval determines your loneliness, the less pressure on each interaction you have with others.
Your existing needs, like staying wheat-free are reinforced and you discover new preferences, like wanting to leave social obligations early because your bad eating comes once you hit a wall with being social.
This gradually fosters the deep belonging we all need, with the right-for-you people.
As the poet David Whyte breathtakingly says, “I will come and find you when the love I find inside myself is equal to what you offer.”
Orient your direction.
Getting clear on your needs is an unfolding process. Making solitude a ritual facilitates this.
Next, is changing your behaviors that keep you isolated.
Part of the challenge in weight loss isn’t just that different foods work for different people. In the case of overeating as a solution to feeling isolated, everyone isolates differently. With food, some of my clients:
- Believe they can’t be moderate so they skip social affairs where they might be “tempted to eat bad.”
- Have “performance anxiety” about explaining why they can’t eat certain things.
- Don’t talk much from a combination of isolating stresses like not liking most of the food choices and that they’ve gained weight.
In each of the above scenarios, it’s about taking responsibility to offer the olive branch to connect with what you need, not others.
- Can you balance your blood sugar at the event, making sure to eat fat and protein in your food choices so you don’t crave all the “bad” carbs?
- Do you want to explain your food allergies?
- Do you want to share the exciting things happening in your life?
I’ve since realized I go to my default strength, my smarts, and then intellectualize the problem to build the case for my story. For example, in the online marketing world, many people have large followings simply because they were first online. And this is true!
But that doesn’t help me develop the marketing skills I need. And I could actually learn about marketing from observing these people instead of being more defensive (read: judgmental!) in the process.
A great way to see your own isolating behavior coming on is when you sense self-sabotage coming on, you can ask yourself, “What am I making this mean?”
- What do you think not eating perfectly means?
- What do you think not mentioning your food allergies and not eating much means?
- What do you think talking about your quirky interests means?
You’ll start to realize that the main person’s mind you were reading was your own.
As you act differently and “measure” what actually happens, not your “mad libs” version, you chip away and eventually prevent the emotional feelings you’re trying to numb out from.
It’s not about pushing these feelings aside, it’s seeing the opening they’re providing to make your world bigger.
Shameless plug: this is the heart and soul of Truce with Food, which begins in February!
Here’s some client examples of taking ownership over their isolation:
- Starting a conversation about how hard motherhood is with the Mom who already lost her baby weight. You discover you’re both finding your way.
- Make the “diet” choice and no one comments.
- When being asked to do a couple of extra things for a holiday party, saying you’d love to but you can’t and the hostess saying, “Ok, I’ll find someone else.”
As I took a step back, I realized that what I really wanted was people who were aligned with my values. People who were curious, innovating in their space and had the intellectual rigor or significant real-world experience behind their opinions. My new behavior was to shift who I was paying attention to online.
When I focused on what I wanted versus being noticed by the “popular crowd” (who I had anointed as such, which is hysterical because there is no omnipresent online businesses!), I found myself finding lots of other people with those values!
Who’s in? Who’s out?
You’ll find that many people in your life are happy to travel where you want to go. These are the people whose needs aren’t in conflict with yours.
Others will leave or fall by the wayside.
Most importantly, you’ll be with the people Oprah soul-stirringly says, are “rooting for your rise”.
(In this interview, Oprah talks about how she still feels vulnerable around her weight).
Many of my clients find their shame around their food choices disappears because largerly, no one is paying attention to what they eat.
Or, it they say, “I’m experimenting with larger lunch meals like Europeans”, it starts a lively, interesting discussion where others want to try it too because they know their heartburn is from such a large dinner.
What they knew on an intellectual level, that all humans are, well, human, and mostly concerned with themselves, translates into emotional healing that chips away at the feeling of self-consciousness and being invisible (or visible in the “wrong” ways).
As one client reflected on how different this Thanksgiving was for her, “The shame around food is just gone.”
For me, I pinch myself that I’ve found the right for me online colleagues and supporters. I’ve discovered doctors, coaches and business owners who have some of the purest hearts and pioneering minds.
The breakdown before riding off into the sunset
It’s popular in the self-help world to call these assumptions self-limiting beliefs.
But the hard truth is that in some cases, it’s not “all in your head”:
- Thin privilege exists.
- You’re not going to lose weight without feeling like you’re on a roller-coaster, dipping into failure at times.
- There are people who have narrow definitions of what a romantic interest looks like.
In my case, certain online businesses only measure your following because they have different business models and needs.
The difference is knowing we have a choice. That belonging, what we really need, is accessible to all of us.
I hope you’ll take this map of how to stop abandoning yourself and your health goals to head towards belonging.