Let’s just admit it and be honest. We all want other people to like us and when we don’t get that we look for something else to fill that basic human need.
What does it even mean to be connected to somebody? We all talk about our need to socialize, to be with other people and the importance of being around others, yet we all know how it feels to be with people and not feel properly connected. The saying, “feeling alone amongst a crowd of people,” is one we can all relate to.
So obviously just being around people isn’t enough to feel connected to them, and so we might think that maybe we need to talk and interact with others to be connected. But then you can look at countless marriages were people have been living intimately with each other for decades and still don’t feel like they’re connected, and because of that they continually feel depressed.
So being with people, talking with people and living with people doesn’t seem to be enough. That’s because to be connected to others means showing them who you are by being as authentic as possible.
For most of us that’s just not something we’re ready for. Being authentic means talking to other people and telling them how you truly feel about almost any subject that comes up. Which is ridiculously hard!
Even if you’re authentic in the nicest, most loving way possible you’re still going to manage to offend others who have a difficult time with honesty and with honest feedback in general. For example how many people reading this are able to tell their mother-in-law that her cooking lacks a little, let’s just say, skill despite everyone around her saying otherwise. Everyone knows that everyone else is just too afraid to say how they feel because of the mother-in-law’s anticipated reaction. So in this tiny instance there is no connection between yourself and your mother-in-law, and everyone else and the mother-in-law.
Honesty 100% of the time. Well maybe 99% of the time. There are instances where it’s best to say nothing at all. For example if you were to find an explicit picture of her from 40 years ago you could let that go without any threat to the connection that you both need 🙂
Another example would be a husband who is too afraid to tell his wife how she really looks in that new dress. Which man hasn’t been in that position before? Oftentimes a man will lie so that he doesn’t hurt his wife’s feelings, or because he wants to be seen as nice and a good person.
Being connected with other people requires that we are honest first and nice second. You can be honest with other people while still being polite and socially positive. People will say that you’re a bad person because their definition of a nice person is one who never tells the truth if it might be hurtful.
So with your mother-in-law for example, you can let her know that you very much appreciate her cooking and all of the time and effort she puts into the meal so that everybody can have an enjoyable evening. But, many of the dishes could use some work and you’d be happy to point out some resources to her to make her cooking better.
And with your wife (or husband in a different situation) you could say that you find her beautiful but that the dress really doesn’t suit her, and yes it is because of her body type or because of that little extra weight she gained and that there are so many other outfits she wears that do make her look very attractive.
Of course the mother-in-law and wife will be deeply offended and perhaps even a little bit hurt but I challenge that this is far better for the relationship long term. Short-term pain for long-term gain applies in this situation.
This is how you connect with people. You tell them how you really feel even though it’s uncomfortable for you and for them. Actually the more uncomfortable you both are the deeper the connection.
One thing about those white lies. Newsflash, somewhere in there your mother-in-law knows that people are just pleasing her, and your wife definitely knows that you aren’t telling the truth. Over time resentment will build up as she’ll feel less able to trust you. The winning move in marriages or any relationship is honesty even if it’s uncomfortable.
What you are doing when you are honest is coming out from hiding. Being with people, sitting across and talking with them or having a conversation on the phone doesn’t mean you are visible. Just think of politicians. Nobody knows what any of them really think or who any of them really are, and we mock them for being shallow and superficial and hollow.
We do the same thing when we hide. We hide by not telling the truth and if we don’t tell the truth then we are like the politicians and nobody actually sees us, and so connection becomes impossible.
What we generally do instead of connecting with the important people in our lives, is we interact with them while simultaneously hiding ourselves. We go visit our father and feel trepidation before we get there. We know we’re going to have to put up with his annoying behaviors. Then on the way home we rant about him for 45 minutes and go to sleep that night with a mild headache.
No connection. He doesn’t see how you feel and you don’t see how he feels. Actually what’s most important is that you simply express yourself. Because even if he isn’t able to listen properly, or fully take in what you’re trying to say, at least you are saying it out loud and no longer hiding. It may not be the deepest connection if the other person can’t really attune to what you’re trying to say, but it is a connection nonetheless.
Once again, unless you had parents who knew what they were doing (which is almost none of us) then this isn’t going to be easy and it will take some time to get used to.
Start small and work your way up. Tell people you like country music for example when you know that they’re going to look at you weird. If you’re at a party and want to leave early, do so without making up an excuse. Just say you’re tired and you want to go home.
Being seen and heard and connected with other people is a human need and it helps to regulate our emotions so that we feel settled in the world.
It can be a painful process, especially at first but making honesty a priority in your life for the next several years will pay off in spades.
You’ll feel better and more confident in yourself, and hence automatically feel less need to use a substance like food to give you that same feeling of ease.
You really don’t have a choice. It’s either that or you go home every night eating half a box of doughnuts, which makes you feel good for a short while but over time destroys your health, stunts your emotional growth and keeps you feeling alone.
The good news is that there are things you can do to get you on the right track ASAP. First is to read the main page of this website which is pretty much a guide to helping you manage the emotional eating so that you lose some weight and take back some control.
Second is to use some of the suggestions here on this blog and some of the resources mentioned on the main page to help you fix the root cause of emotional eating, which of course is what we all universally feel and can’t manage… anxiety.
More posts to come.
THE EATING LOVE GUIDE (FREE)
The Eating Love Guide has helped many people regain control of their eating patterns, resulting not only in weight loss but also better health and improved self-esteem. To read it online, click here.