If you ever want to emotionally eat, spend, or drink, just remember: You react compulsively when you're scared. Scared to make moves in your life that would fill you up, that would truly nourish you in ways food and shopping can’t.
Fear is a part of life, and in order to break free from it, you must accept it. It’s through accepting your fear that you tap into the part of you that isn’t afraid. You become bigger than your fear and see how it’s just an evolutionary tool that's kept you and your ancestors alive. But when you're not in immediate danger, whatever you’re afraid of is a story in your head.
If you’re afraid of having fear in the first place, if you avoid accepting your fear, then breaking out of what holds you back will feel so massive that you'll use food or spending as an excuse to keep you distracted, safe and small. As a way not to feel your fear — or what you’re afraid of — at all.
When you start accepting your fear, its hold on you relaxes and there’s more space to embrace the unknown. More space to live from your heart, to wake up to the truth that there's nothing to fear. And as you approach your life with more and more courage, your desire to eat when you're not hungry begins to disappear.
When you boldly move in the direction of what you want in your life — toward what feels good, what excites you and what brings you pleasure — you naturally reclaim your power around food and you start to come home to your body.
It all starts by accepting and befriending your fear, and being really nice to yourself when you're scared. It's through love and kindness that you remember there's really nothing to fear.
Here are a few tips on how to let go of fear and reclaim your relationship to food and spending:
1. Take a breath.
Yes, it’s obvious, but taking a breath is really the most immediate way to activate your parasympathetic nervous system and calm yourself down. It automatically brings you to the present moment, releases a layer of fear, and tells your body you are not in immediate danger.
2. Focus on love.
Give yourself a hug, get a hug from someone else, climb under the covers or take a bath. Let yourself feel held by something, reassuring your body that you're safe. Many times, our desire to emotionally eat is fueled by our body’s effort to be hugged and protected with excess weight, so try giving this sensation to your body before you try eating.
Even if you're not experiencing legitimate reason for your fear, give yourself a moment of self-love. It may be the only way your body will know to respond without eating or spending.
3. Tune in.
Open yourself up to receive guidance and support. Look for signs or listen to the sounds around you. Many times when we're receptive to the wisdom in the present moment, we receive the messages we most need to hear in order to break through our fear.
4. Get support.
Get an accountability partner or create a group of friends that you can call on if you find yourself wanting to binge. Find a mentor or work with a personal coach.
If all else fails, let yourself eat, spend or drink, and do it from a place of compassionate awareness. We develop these habits for legitimate, life-affirming reasons, so let yourself go through the motions and get curious about how your behavior serves you. Go slowly and be with yourself through the entire experience, from self-judgment to pleasurable release and back again. Take out a journal and write down what you find.
6. Zoom out.
Remember that you're here on this earth for only a short period time. Your life is a tiny speck in the enormity of all existence. That alone might be scary, but realize that any fear you feel is even less significant than you are.
Zooming out to see the big picture of the brief, miraculous nature of life can remind you that you have very little to lose by moving boldly into the unknown. To embrace a full, adventurous, exciting life, filled with joy, pain, pleasure — and who knows what else!
It’s from this place of fullness, of accepting all aspects of life that you truly come home to yourself and your body. When you welcome and invite all that moves through you — including your fear — you see there’s really nothing to be afraid of after all.