The Secret to Feeling Full

Practice generosity to fill the void causing emotional eating.

As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way. Mary Anne Radmacher

A coach once had a theory that my overeating was a result of feeling unloved growing up. She said that since I hadn’t experienced abundant love, I didn’t trust that abundance existed in any area of my life.

That could explain why whenever I had food in front of me, I acted as if I was a race horse and the race gun had just gone off. I wanted to eat everything in sight — and more — to fill my internal void.

I thought it was an interesting idea. It’s true that it’s easier for me to stay on track with healthy eating when I’m feeling loved and connected with other people. However, since I’m traveling on my own, it’s tricky to spend time with people I care about regularly. Nor can I change how my past might have affected my current feelings.

But I’ve learned a method to feel abundant without the need for my friends or time travel. It is practicing generosity.

You might be familiar with the self-help classic The Secret? A central theme of the movie and book is to practice giving to create abundance. This idea might seem counterintuitive: surely, we get less when we give away. But the theory is that being generous makes us feel wealthy since we do have more than enough if we can give. This rich mindset creates a confidence to go for the opportunities that will create actual wealth.

A study backs this concept by showing that giving more results in higher earnings. I wanted to put this theory to the test a couple of years ago, by giving to charity every day for a month and see what happened. I made a Kiva loan nearly every day and was ecstatic when by the end of the month, a recruiter contacted me about a new role — with twice my then salary!

It’s worth mentioning that after the initial conversation with the recruiter, I never heard another word about that job… But my experiment still gave me confidence that magical things can happen when we trust and put in the action! Especially when it comes to keeping fit: volunteering has proven to result in weight loss.

Don’t put off generosity until you make more or have accumulated more. Everyone has something to contribute, and it doesn’t have to be money: perhaps your time and support can be even more valuable to someone. What are you passionate about, and what can you give today?

How to Feel Full Through Giving:

1. Kiva microlending. I can’t think of a more effective way to give than through microlending, since the original amount can grow without further investment. The system works like this: you make a loan (starting at $25 with Kiva) to a person in a developing country. The loan might be for e.g. education or renewable energy. The lender then repays the amount to you, and you can make a new loan to someone else. Kiva also has gift cards for these loans. I think is the perfect present since both you, the recipient and the Kiva lender will reap the rewards of generosity.

2. Volunteer. Just google what opportunities are available in your area (what about working in a charity shop, soup kitchen, reading for elderly?). If you live remotely, check what you can do online: for instance, taking phone calls to a helpline.

3. Help a friend. What skills do you have that would be valuable to your friends? Perhaps you work in HR and got lots of interview expertise, that you can pass on to a job-seeking friend. Make it a habit of thinking about what you can offer your network, and reach out.

As a side note to my mentioning about the correlation between charity and earning more, I should say that my reason for giving is not a mission to become a millionaire. I am genuinely passionate about helping make the world a better place.

However, setting that aside: I know that generosity is crucial for my healthy eating. When I give, I feel useful and connected to the bigger picture. This state of mind is opposite to when I’ve been lying alone in bed, binge watching Netflix while stuffing my face with ice cream in an attempt to fill the void inside of me.

I give because I care — and because I want to feel full.

Alexia Bjarkan

Weight Loss Coach at The Benefactory.

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