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3 Ways Emotional Hunger Manifests Itself Before We Know It Exists

Every emotion we long for becomes a toxic pattern in our external reality.

Photo by Francesca Zama from Pexels

Last year the life coach that I was working with suggested me a mindfulness exercise. The topic was self-love. I told her that it will be easy because I truly love myself. I give myself enough love before I seek in others.

This sounded very true to me until I looked into my eyes in the mirror as she told me to do so. I had this strange feeling within me and I didn’t feel proud as I expected. It was more of sadness as I knew that I disappointed myself at self-love.

Is it possible to feel embarrassed while looking at yourself in the mirror?

Apparently, you can if you have searched for the missing emotions in others instead of giving them to yourself first.

It’s natural wanting to feel love, respect, calmness in others’ company or with things we own. They’re part of our lives but they don’t have to be in the driver’s seat for us to feel fulfilled.

Here are some signs you might have an emotional hunger that you need to work on.

1. Using Food to Avoid Feeling Difficult Emotions

When we don’t have a strong emotional system to cope with stress, depression, or conflicts in relationships, we tend to seek comfort in things that make us happy.

One of the common responses is to look for calmness in food while we go through challenges. We give food authority to control our minds and perhaps even numb ourselves so we avoid feeling certain emotions.

In the short term, running to get a bag of chocolate for comfort may seem innocent. But this can cause binge eating issues if we’re unable to differentiate the fullness from over-eating while we try to fill our emotional hunger.

Work on your internal strength first. Each time you’re triggered by stress, depression, or people, pause and listen to your body. Instead of running to get food, practice mindfulness to keep yourself in the present moment. This might be coloring a book, sewing, or simply connecting with your breath. Create a healthy distracting habit.

And give yourself the comfort you seek in food. Use affirmations that will help you feel safe in conflicts. What do you need to hear at that moment? Repeat it out loud until you’re convinced.

2. Pleasing People to Be Liked

In real or virtual life, we all like being liked. While we might only want claps or likes on social media, in real life it requires a sacrifice. We do every favor the people we want to impress ask for even if it puts us in a difficult position or doesn’t align with our schedule.

We might also please people who are difficult to deal with in case of conflicts. To not cause any uncomfortable conversations, we go along with what they demand so we keep ourselves in peace.

All in all, to fill the emotional hunger of being liked, we abandon our needs. To prevent this repeating pattern from happening, bring awareness to your life where you tend to please people to be accepted.

Know the root cause of your actions. Is it because you really want to help or you want to avoid the consequences of not going along with their way?

Set your boundaries avoiding extensive reasoning. This can be quite stressful when we’re not used to placing our needs before others.’ But practice it being mindful of the way you say no with small things daily.

Prioritize yourself in your reasoning. Make it a habit to give your reason as “I would be happy to listen to you but I’m not in a healthy place in my mind right now. I am sending you some love.” or “I would be happy to join you today. But I need to stay home and slow down.”

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

3. Having Co-Dependent Relationships

“We demand from others only what we fail to give ourselves.” — Edward F. Edinger

In a healthy relationship, platonic or romantic, we should feel complete before we commit to others. If this doesn’t exist, we become overly dependent on others to fill our emotional hunger, which leads to a co-dependent relationship.

The best way to recover from co-dependent relationships is to get to know ourselves. Meditate on a life that would make you happy. Try journaling about what you want in life regardless of someone else’s existence in it.

This can be challenging if co-dependent relationships have been a pattern for a long time and you might think you don’t have any idea about your likes and dislikes.

Buy yourself some flowers without expecting them from someone else. Go to the cinema alone. And figure if you enjoy a certain genre of movie or you’ve been watching them because your friends or partner liked them.

As you connect with yourself deeply and care about what makes you happy, standing strong against abusive patterns in relationships will be easy to handle in the end.

To Take Away

Filling an emotional hunger is no different than filling a hungry stomach. Be mindful of how you support yourself within and what you’re exposed to in your environment. Just like you fuel your body with nutritious food.

  • Practice mindfulness and work on your relationship with food and coping with difficult emotions.
  • Value yourself and prioritize your needs before you seek validation in others.
  • Connect with yourself and live a life that you want without following others blindly for the sake of feeling safe in their presence.

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Begüm Erol

Begüm Erol

Freelance writer | I write about #self, #life, and #wellbeing. If you are looking for research-based tips, follow me and let’s connect! IG: @begumerol_