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Self-Medicating with Food

By Dr. Margaret Paul
April 29, 2024



Do you find yourself unable to stop using food to fill your emptiness or assuage your anxiety and loneliness? There is a way out of this!



emotional eatingWhat does food mean to you?

  • Is it a way to nourish and support your body in excellent health?
  • Is it a way to satisfy your physical hunger?
  • Is it an experience that you relish and enjoy?
  • Is it a way to fill your emotional emptiness, to numb out and suppress your feelings?

If you identify with the latter - if you use food to avoid experiencing your feelings, then you are self-medicating with food. You are using food addictively - as someone else might use a drug or alcohol.

It is easy to self-medicate with food because it is so available for most people. Chances are that if you are reading this article, you have enough money to buy food. You don't need a prescription for it, and it is not illegal. Therefore, it is readily available.
 

The Real Issue

What is the underlying issue here? Why do you need to self-medicate? You may find you have a strong but unconscious devotion to self-medicating when you are not sufficiently devoted to taking responsibility for your feelings.

When your primary intention is to avoid responsibility for your feelings, then you will likely find numerous addictive ways of doing this - from blaming others and feeling like a victim, to numbing out with substance and process addictions. The bottom line is this: until you decide that you want to take full responsibility for your own feelings, you will continue to self-medicate. 
 

Why Do You Avoid Responsibility For Your Feelings?

Consider these questions. What is so scary about taking responsibility for your feelings? Why will you do almost anything to avoid this responsibility, including ending up sick or obese from self-medicating with food? What do you tell yourself will happen if you take responsibility for your feelings?

Do you tell yourself that:

  • You can never fill yourself as much as someone or something else can, and if you take responsibility for your own feelings you will never get what you really want?
  • There is too much pain to manage - you have to numb it out to survive?
  • You don't deserve to take responsibility for your feelings?
  • It is selfish to take care of your own feelings - that a caring person takes care of others' feelings?
  • It’s too much work and you don't have the time?
  • If you open to your feelings and to taking responsibility for them, you will become too vulnerable and end up being controlled and taken advantage of by others?
  • Your inner child is too needy and demanding and you can't possibly meet your own needs?
  • If you take responsibility for yourself you will end up alone because others will be upset by your self-care and leave, and you will be more unhappy than you are now?
  • If you take loving care of yourself, you will outgrow or no longer want to be in your current relationship?
  • You are already taking care of your feelings, and you don't understand why you have a food issue - or you believe that eating the way you eat IS taking care of your feelings?

If you are telling yourself these things, it is coming from your wounded self. The wounded self does not operate from the truth; it operates from programmed false beliefs and lies. This is very important. If you are telling yourself these things, it comes from your wounded self. The wounded self does not operate from the truth: it operates from programmed false beliefs and lies.

The above is not an exhaustive list regarding what you may be telling yourself that causes you to fear taking responsibility for your feelings. You might want to take a moment to look inside and see what else you might be telling yourself that causes you to self-medicate rather than take responsibility for your feelings.
 

Taking Responsibility Means…

Taking responsibility for your feelings means that you are devoted to the practice of Inner Bonding - that instead of self-medicating you are doing Inner Bonding whenever you have distressing feelings.

You will know the joy and fulfillment of taking responsibility for your own feelings only when you do it. Start today with practicing staying present in your body in Step One, and doing Inner Bonding anytime you feel anything other than peace and fullness within - including the anxiety that sends you down the road to self-medicating.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."



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