One of my most transformative coaching moments happened when I was 27.5. I was working as an editor and was in a relationship that was not very gratifying to say the least.
I sat across from my coach at the time, crying. I felt out of place, like the life I was living was not my own. Like I was trying to wear somebody else’s clothes, and no matter how hard I tried to feel at home in them, to love them ~ they felt foreign.
I was ready to grow up and yet, in all areas of my life, I felt small, scrunched into a smaller space than I naturally wanted to ~ and was ready to ~ occupy.
My coach, unfazed, looked at me and explained at a pace slow enough for me to understand,
“Katya,” he said, “You are a very creative woman. If you are not careful with what you create, if you are not intentional with what you create, you will create shit.”
That hit hard. I went home and thought about it. I think about it still.
Creativity As Power
At our core, all women are creative. The womb is the seat of creativity, and making children is not only the most obvious but perhaps the most profound way in which our creativity manifests.
It is by far not the only way. Everything in our lives – from our relationships to our jobs, our living situations, down to our problems and struggles – is created by us.
Most of the time, the creation is not conscious. Our unconscious minds, our patterns of belief about what is possible for us, often run our lives, creating situations that we don’t actually want simply because they remind us of what is familiar, and we don’t yet know or deeply accept that another way is possible.
Often, we are tied to our struggles, they are comfortable for us, not because they are easy or nourishing or supportive, but because they are known.
Know that within you, you have all the creativity you need to create the life you really want. This creativity is your power.
First, it’s going to take a little bit (or a lot bit) of inner personal work to unearth those deep unconscious habits that may be running your life.
The Emotional Root of Binging ~ Stuffing Our Power
It can be scary to see (or feel) our own power. When I was a child, I had tantrums, fits of crying that alarmed everyone.
I saw my parents become frightened and not know what to do. I felt the power well up inside me like a hurricane and, once it came out, it was like a tidal wave of emotion that would not stop until it was all released. There wasn’t necessarily a reason ~ I would just cry and scream and feel all the deep grief inside me that felt like it had no source, but was endless. Then, finally, it would stop.
The the sun came out, a bright and clear day. A rainbow. I was happy, cleansed. Blissful even.
The people around me, my family, was tired and confused. But like the weather, I had had my release, and now I could go on with my life with that much less baggage.
Well, I learned pretty quickly that this kind of behavior could get you undesirable results in your relationships with others.
I had to learn some way of dealing with my emotions, and one way that I learned was to binge.
This way, I could stuff it all inside rather than letting it out, and I wouldn’t have to scare anyone! It seemed like a perfect solution.
I could also binge in private, lessening my effect on others completely.
You see, deep inside, I had a fear that my affect on others was exclusively toxic ~ I didn’t understand, didn’t have the language for, and nobody told me at the time, that there are always two sides to a coin. That if one is capable of producing (as we all are) such a strong negative reaction in another, we are also capable of producing an equally strong positive reaction, if we are able to turn our fear and anger into love.
That realization comes later. Binging put the kaibosh on things for a while, but it wouldn’t last forever. Because one thing I had already gotten a glimpse of, was that I was powerful. I had a lot of feeling inside this body, a lot of momentum and strength with which to make things happen.
Your Binge Contains Your Fuel
I have a feeling that, as a binging woman, you did something similar. I don’t know, of course, if you ever had tantrums, but I have a feeling that you had some deep emotions that you felt the need to stuff.
Maybe they felt too big to handle or face, or unleash on the world.
Maybe, like me, you felt afraid that if you let your emotions out, your house, your family, your town or the world might collapse under the pressure.
Stuffing your emotions felt like the responsible thing to do.
You were protecting others. Protecting the world from a fury you didn’t think it deserved.
The only problem is, feelings need to pass through us, they need an exit point, or else they fester and turn into old unprocessed emotions.
And old emotions turn into those unconscious patterns that run our lives.
See the vicious, un-gratifying cycle?
In this way, what you stuff is the fuel for you to create the life that you want. It is your very power.
Imagine a lion’s roar. Nobody would admonish a lion for roaring – it is what she does (and it can be heard from 5 miles away!)
But our culture hasn’t exactly been ready for women to roar. It’s ok, it’s still learning. But a woman cannot live a happy, fulfilled life if she cannot harness her power fully, and a key component of that is letting her feelings have an exit route as they come up.
Action Steps for Harnessing Your Power
It’s essential, sooner or later, that you come to form a relationship with your own feelings as they arise, as well as your old pent-up emotions that have been stuffed with food. I have a feeling that, even with tiny little baby steps, you are ready to open the door a crack and begin to feel these emotions.
Why? Once you become intimate with your old, pent-up emotions ~ old pain that was too scary to face once upon a time ~ you will start to feel free from it.
It doesn’t feel good at first. At first, it feels like digging up an old grave. It smells bad and looks terrible. You may wonder, why did I do this to myself? I felt fine before and now I feel awful.
That’s a sign that you are doing a good job. As long as you have a coach, a therapist, some kind of professional who can hold the space for you and remind you that these bad feelings are not all you are and that they will pass, then experiencing them again is healthy. In fact, it’s the only way, because they have to move through you fully before they move out of you for good.
Coaching and therapy are good ways to bring these emotions to the surface ~
So Let Me Give Your Something You Can Practice On Your Own, To Prepare for That
Before you even meet with your coach or therapist, it will give you so much more mileage right off the bat if you first get to know your emotions a bit on your own.
How do you do that?
Key: if you feel a binge coming on, freeze. This is your golden moment.
Instead of interpreting this signal as, “I must go eat,” start interpreting it as, “my old emotions are surfacing.”
And, like a rare fish, get really really curious and fascinated, almost child-like, about witnessing your old emotions. It is that precious.
Sit down. Close your eyes. Get very, very still and quiet. Just breathe.
Notice what you feel in your body. Where you feel it. Any quick movements, any impulsiveness, and it will run away. There will be nothing wrong with having binged, you will just have missed the opportunity to see your old emotion for what it is, and that is the first step to processing it.
Winning Back Your Creativity
I often think of life as having an arc shape ~ (if we are lucky) we start out peaceful, at one with the world and others, and having an inner knowing that we belong. At least, we don’t have the doubt that we might not.
Then, life presents us with a bunch of challenges. We can demonize these challenges, or we can also look at them as gifts that have been given to us so that we can grow our character, become stronger and more capable by overcoming them.
At the other side of binge eating, when we are ready to heal, we get our creativity back. And what can we do with creativity? We can use it to build the life we want.
Healing is a baby step process. You don’t have to be ready for the whole shebang ~ you can just dip a toe in the water.
PS In my blog post, How Do You Let Out Your Feelings As They Arise? I discuss strategies to not accumulate new stored emotions so that you can constantly live and create from your true self.