I was reading yesterday’s post and thinking about reader Yuki’s concerns about using food during a time when she is about to finish high school and the future remains uncertain. Whether it is the pressure of going to school or figuring out where you want to go in the next step of your life, I can totally relate to using food as a way to calm that sense of uncertainty and apprehension.
In fact, much of my history with this kind of stuff began towards the end of my high school experience as I was getting ready to go off to school as well. Looking back, I realize that a lot of it had to do with the looming dread of change, transition and ultimately uncertainty.
It is a very large idea to cope with, especially because it’s not like you can make it go away. You can’t treat uncertainty because it is always going to be there, we can only deal with the way that we react to it. When things are uncertain (hint: the future), it can be a difficult issue to “tackle,” because it is the reality of our everyday lives…pretty much forever.
As I have mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of not feeling out of control of my feelings, and I think that I also just don’t like to feel out of control of most things (yikes!). So naturally, not feeling in control is uncomfortable for me and thus the basis for a large portion of my eating to comfort or cope with this. Even though it doesn’t make logical sense, in those moments, at least I could be in control of something (food, my body), right? Even if it wasn’t always in the most healthy ways, I got to be the “controller” of that stuff.
But again, the difficulty with this is that uncertainty is pervasive and always will be, so the uncertainty doesn’t need to be changed, it’s the way I handle it that does, so that I can deal with it in a better way.
I went to a meditation conference and found something that I often think about to help me deal with my deep dislike for uncertainty and change in the future. The idea is that, “grasping” or attaching to things in life (especially ones we cannot control) is what ultimately leads to suffering, and that if we learn to let go a little of the tight grasp we have on wanting or needing to control everything, things are less difficult to deal with. It takes practice to truly embrace this idea into your everyday thinking, but I often remind myself of this when I can feel myself getting anxious about what lies ahead–which can sometimes lead to me back to old behaviors of using food in a way that isn’t helpful or food for me.
The future is forever going to be uncertain, so if I learn to let go of this need to always feel like I can control it, then I am able to cope and react towards the reality of it in more sane ways and without food!
How do you deal with uncertainty? Do you find that it makes you want to comfort or control things with food? –Morgan