Does it sometimes feel as though your thoughts are like a thousand out-of-control driverless express trains simultaneously zipping through a labyrinth of tiny tunnels in your mind?
If so, you’re not alone.
People whose eating is emotion-driven often describe themselves as “overthinkers” – they’re so consumed by their thoughts that eating is the only way they find respite from the turmoil in their heads (that and going to sleep).
But how do you start making sense of your thoughts when they’re whizzing by so fast you can’t grab hold of any of them? Where do you even begin?
In my experience, the best way is to get a paper and a pen and start writing.
Writing cuts through the confusion and disrupts the cycle of chaos. Just getting words out of your head and onto paper helps those trains to slow down so you can begin to work out what’s going on inside you.
Most importantly, if reaching for food is a way of avoiding a relationship with yourself, then writing down your thoughts and feelings is a great way to reconnect.
For that very reason you’ll no doubt feel resistant to the idea, but you can tell the part of you that’s avoiding to back off and let you get on with it. Writing allows you to vent your anger safely, acknowledge your fears and aspirations, and achieve vital insights. As a result, it helps you feel better, pose important questions and understand yourself.
But you don’t just have to take my word for it.
I’d like to turn to some of my fellow bloggers to show you what I mean. I really hope you follow the links to their posts – none of them are very long and all of them illustrate beautifully what I’m talking about.
Writing Helps You Feel Better
“My soul has already made the decision”, she says but she has yet to take action. Notice how she identifies in the moment the beneficial effect writing is having on her: “Just writing out that decision has helped my body relax and given me some determination to move forward”, she notes.
Writing Helps You Ask Important Questions
Sometimes it’s not so much about finding the answer as it is about just asking the question.
Rory at A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip! demonstrates this in an entry on his “Dear Blog” feature in which he explores his feelings about his Dad having terminal cancer. He repeatedly asks himself the question “How do I feel about my Dad dying?”. He doesn’t have the answer, but that’s not the point – the point was he needed to ask himself the question.
Writing Helps You Understand Yourself
Merri at the Binge-Free Blog often shares illuminating excerpts from her journal such as this one from her post “The Bathing Suit Test” in which she examines her struggle with body acceptance.
Although she had difficulty writing because her mind was preoccupied with thoughts of “losing weight and looking my best”, she manages to explore her feelings, finally concluding “I am okay just the way I am”.
Keeping a journal is not about being a good writer or even about enjoying writing. You don’t have to write every day, it doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have share it. It doesn’t even have to be a journal – you can write on the back of an envelope, an old shopping list or a pile of receipts. The important thing is that you’re writing and forging a relationship with yourself.
Writing is deeply personal expression of self-care and self-acceptance, and can help to heal a lifetime of self-neglect. The message you’re sending is “I value myself enough to sit down and write about my thoughts and feelings because I deserve my attention”.
As a typical angsty teenager in the 1980’s, I often attempted to keep a journal. I fancied myself as a modern-day Samuel Pepys but instead of writing about The Great Fire of London or the Restoration of the Monarchy, I was writing perfectly formed sentences about why Duran Duran were better than Spandau Ballet (they were) or which member of the Breakfast Club I most wanted to hang out with (Ally Sheedy).
My journal now resembles the fervent scrawlings of an eccentric scientist attempting to invent a formula to solve a particularly baffling equation. And, yes, sometimes I look back and think “what the hell was I on about?” But it doesn’t matter. It’s an indication of where I was at the time and, more importantly, that I’ve moved on. I know for certain that I would never have managed to resolve my overeating issues without writing regularly.
So if you’re serious about healing your relationship with food and yourself, and you want to move forward – start writing.
At some point, and perhaps for the first time in your life, you may feel something within you breathe a sigh of relief as if to say “Thank you. I feel heard”.