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Are You Looking to be Full or Fulfilled?

When yearning for fulfilment, It’s not by chance that disregulated eaters fill themselves with food--and with people, activities, and material goods as they seek satisfaction, contentment, connection, and meaning. Sadly, they rarely get what they’re looking for because full and fulfilled are as different as apples and oranges.

Many disregulated eaters yearn for more out of and a deeper engagement with life. They talk about feeling empty as if they could ingest something which would stay there and keep them feeling full up. The problem with using food—or success, applause or achievement to do this—is that you keep having to go back for more and more and more. The applause dies down or your success happened a while ago and you begin to feel depleted. So you think, Ah, that worked before, so I’ll just go out and find some more of it and I’ll be fine. And, that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call compulsion.

One of my clients described the difference for her between feeling full and fulfilled. Full meant busy with chores or tasks, things that others could do for her—cut the grass, cook, clean out her files, pay bills—as distinct from activities that uniquely melded her interests and talents such as reading poetry, taking ballet lessons, playing tennis, and being a therapist, all of which made her feel fulfilled. Things that were fulfilling were highly pleasurable and often fun. They were activities no one could do for her.

Obsessing about eating and weight fill up time but bring no fulfillment. Fulfillment takes you to a higher plane, a more satisfying emotional place. Unfortunately, simply filling up the space you call empty in you never will bring fulfillment. That comes from following your heart’s desires. It won’t ever happen because you’re focusing on what you feel you must do. Fulfillment doesn’t have to be grand, but it does have to stir you up in some grand way. There’s a connection or excitement that comes from such an activity which moves you to your core. For example, researching your genealogy, learning how to knit, practicing a new language, writing your memoirs (even though no one may ever read them), gardening in your little patch of earth all could be fulfilling.

Next time you go to fill yourself up with food when you’re not hungry, think about what you’re missing and your misdirected energies. Notice that you’re thinking metaphorically and don’t really want to be full but fulfilled. I guarantee that when you do things which are really nourishing, you won’t feel as much need to top yourself off when that empty feeling comes along. Moreover, I guarantee that emptiness will visit you less often.