Written By Michelle Wilonski
How often is this the scene in your house?
Light from the refrigerator radiates a heavenly glow as you stand staring into the shelves of food, searching for something.
Finding nothing you want, you move to the pantry and keep looking. You’re not even sure what you’re hungry for. Actually — if you’re being honest with yourself — you’re not even all that hungry right now, but eating would feel really good.
Sound familiar? What about this one…
Your kid just threw one of her passive-aggressive sarcastic comments over her shoulder at you as she walked out of the house. You hold it together for about 2.4 seconds, and then turn to your secret stash of chocolate bars. Eating your feelings has always been a good solution to her rants.
You know what you want: a healthy body; trusting and loving relationships; control over your choices without caving to impulse; to speak up for yourself; to keep others from trampling your voice.
But somehow, it’s all eluding you.
Why do you keep making choices that ultimately destroy yourself and place you further away from the things you really want?
I know this reality all too well.
For much of my life, it was the never-ending battle with weight loss. Or, at least I thought it was a battle with weight loss. Turns out, at the root of all of my struggles — be it with weight, confidence, relationships…you name it — it was really a battle with myself that I needed to heal.
I did heal it. And you can do it, too.
So here, I not only want to give you an inside look into how I handled one of my greatest struggles, but to give you the two key questions that led me to the most amazing emotional healing — two key questions that, I believe, can transform the entire trajectory of your life.
My greatest struggle was with my weight.
Every night in high school, I would impatiently watch the clock…waiting for my parents to go to bed. I would hide away in my room and distract myself, binge watching Gilmore Girls and pondering the most wonderful question in the world: “What am I going to eat?”
Eventually, one at a time, I would hear my parents come up to bed. First my mom, then my dad. (Dad always took a while longer, especially if the Red Sox were playing.)
Once I was sure my parents were in for the night, I would make my move downstairs.
I had the perfect cover. If questioned, I would play it off as though I didn’t want to wake them up with the volume of my show or the noises of me moving around. (Such a considerate daughter I am.)
The reality was that the family room was much closer to where I really wanted to be…The Kitchen.
Once I was settled and I had the volume of the TV as my cover, I would make my way into the kitchen and the search was on.
And I literally mean, “the search was on.”
My mother had learned a long time ago to stop bringing much of the good stuff into the house. Chips, cookies, ice cream, baked goods…you know, the good stuff.
Starting back in fifth grade, if the good stuff was in the house, I would definitely eat it. Even back then my mother would bring it into the house but keep it hidden so it would last more than one night.
Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Despite her efforts of hiding the food from me, I would find it.
I would get lucky when I would have the kitchen to myself after school. My sister and I would take the bus home while my mom was still at work. My sister would disappear up to her room for the afternoon, too cool to hang out with her little sister. I would eagerly search every cabinet, closet, and cupboard in the house until I finally found it all.
I always found the good stuff.
High school was when I started staying up late for this sacred solo kitchen time. My options were limited as far as snacking went since my mother was a skilled food hider. Regardless, I always made due with what I had.
There was the staple: Peanut butter and saltine crackers or even simply the peanut butter on a spoon.
There was the extra goodness: Melted butter drizzled on top of the light butter popcorn that my mom would buy in her efforts to curb the effects of my appetite.
If I was super lucky there would be ice cream or Klondike bars.
If all else failed, there were ginger snaps. Lord knows, there were always ginger snaps. (I don’t even like ginger snaps! But that didn’t stop me from eating them.)
I carried this behavior with me right into adulthood: staying up late and searching the cabinets for food.
The best nights were when I lived alone or when my roommate was out; I could just go out and buy whatever I wanted and sit on the couch and eat… and eat… and eat. I would eat until I felt so full that I felt sick.
Still, I would take another bite.
I couldn’t stop.
Sure, my stomach was full; I, however, was not.
I was not full of what I really needed.
I was not full of what I had really been searching for in the back of the cupboards and at the bottom of the bags of chips for all of those years of my life.
And to figure that out and heal, I had to look back to where it all started:
I was in fifth grade when I started becoming really uncomfortable with my body. I was gaining weight. My school uniforms were getting tighter and tighter and there was nothing I could do about it. I only had one size, and I was too embarrassed to ask for another. I didn’t know what to do. After all, I was just a kid.
My discomfort got even worse in sixth grade when I was one of the first kids in class to get acne. Every day I woke up with what looked like these giant craters on my face.
I just wanted to hide from the world.
So that’s what I did.
I hid away from the world during my sacred solo late night kitchen time while I searched and searched the kitchen.
I hid away from my parents while I ate, and later, I hid from my roommate and everyone else while I chewed alone in my house.
When I ate, it felt good. I could hide my feelings of discomfort and self-loathing from myself.
You see, eating felt good, but I didn’t feel good; I still didn’t feel full.
But like all people, I was doing my absolute best to search for what I wanted. And frankly, I completely manifested it! At the time, though, I couldn’t see what was going on.
When my body started changing in fifth grade and gaining all that weight, it made me really unhappy. I’m sure you can understand that, right?
I started searching for happiness, comfort, and love that felt like it was missing inside.
Along the way I found food, and suddenly — like a miracle — food provided me with all of the feelings that I was looking for:
Food was comforting; It felt good while I was eating it.
Food made me happy as it filled up my stomach.
I loved food…and the taste of sugar and carbs and fat felt like it loved me back.
Food made my body feel full, but our bodies are only part of ourselves. Our heart, our mind, and our emotions need nourishment, too.
I definitely wasn’t giving myself that or finding it in my Klondike Bar.
My soul was not full, so I always kept searching. I always kept eating.
Emotional healing finally filled me up.
This cycle of searching outside of myself for the things I wanted went on for years…
17 long years, to be exact.
And sure, this is a story about my struggle with weight loss but…
Searching outside of ourselves instead of healing within is not limited to weight loss.
What finally changed it all for me was focusing on healing myself emotionally. I set changing my mindset and everything within myself as my top priority over any physical, outward change.
I worked very hard for three years at healing:
I dug deep into my subconscious.
I healed parts of myself that I didn’t know existed.
I faced the ugliest, scariest, and most broken pieces of myself.
I pulled all of my demons to the surface and shed the brightest healing light on them.
I let myself feel.
I let go of so much.
I healed the deepest wounds.
Through it all, I learned to ask myself the two questions that speak to the foundation of so much personal growth, and continue to guide me in my own changes, and the changes that I support in my clients.
To heal, ask yourself, “What am I really looking for?”
Just as I spent so much time fixated on my outward appearance for much of my life, we all struggle when we look outside of ourselves for what we want.
That depressed, fifth-grader that felt so uncomfortable with who she was wanted so many things.
She wanted to fit in.
She wanted to feel loved for who she was.
She wanted to believe in herself.
She wanted to feel good.
And she found those things in food.
The problem was she forgot that she was in charge of creating all of that within herself. She thought she needed it from someone — or something — else.
What she didn’t know to do was to ask the second question.
To heal, ask yourself, “Where do I already have it?”
When we spend so much time searching outside of ourselves for the things we want, we many times forget to look at what we already have.
We are in control of how we feel about ourselves; Ultimately, so was that fifth-grade girl, but she didn’t know how to be.
And that fifth-grade girl grew into an adult, and all the things she believed about herself and about what she was looking for, and about what she needed, followed her.
As I struggled with my weight as an adult, I was simultaneously hating my body for what it was doing, and forgetting that what it was doing was exactly what I was asking it to provide.
The world can be a scary place. Even in my adult years, like I did as that fifth-grade child, I looked for protection.
I didn’t want to get my heart broken.
I didn’t want to experience the pain of any loss.
I didn’t want to be crushed by the weight of finances or face the inevitable disappointments that seemed to come generally in life.
I wanted a thick wall around me that would shield me from having to feel any of that.
Guess what I got? A thick layer of fat that would ensure that I continued to focus on it, shy away from people, and never really experience any loss because there wouldn’t be any real relationship there to lose anything in the first place.
But when we hold onto worry we hold onto negative energy that is no longer serving us. When we hold onto doubt and fear we do not have the space for new beginnings and abundance.
In order for me to heal I had to move forward into new beginnings and create space for receiving abundance.
I need to let go of my need for protection and security, and to do that, I needed to acknowledge where in my life I was already receiving it.
Well, that’s easy: I was receiving it from myself and from my homegirl The Universe.
To quote another spiritual homegirl, Gabrielle Bernstein, “The Universe always has my back.”
Everything I have ever asked for and searched for I always had all along. I was just looking for it in the wrong place.
We need to look inside ourselves to heal.
We look outside of ourselves for love, comfort, happiness, protection, safety, and security.
We search the world for things that make us feel good and fill us up when all we have to do is turn and look within.
You can make yourself feel good and fill yourself up with love, happiness, and comfort.
You fill yourself up with these things when you take care of yourself.
When you take care of yourself you nourish your body.
You calm and quiet your mind. You heal the parts of yourself that need to be healed.
By doing all of this you are living in alignment with The Universe and when you are in alignment with The Universe you are always supported.
When you are in alignment with The Universe you feel good. You are full.
What is something you are looking for, and where do you, perhaps, already have it? Let me know below in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!