Reacting versus Responding

by Amy on March 8, 2019

Big Ass Maltballs

The other day as I was driving home, I noticed an urgent craving for chocolate covered malt balls. The feeling came quickly and seemingly out of nowhere.

Full disclosure, I’ve been eating a lot of maltballs over the past two weeks. Even though my face breaks out, even though it messes up my sleep.

I justify this maltball consumption as a coping mechanism. I just got some stinging feedback on the book. Plus it’s February. Plus it’s really cold outside.

A few hours before the craving, I had just finished up a coaching call with my client who’s been doing a lot of brave work feeling her feelings – facing some really old shit from her childhood. My advice was for her to check in with herself every few hours and ask the following questions:

1. How am I feeling?
2. Why am I feeling this way?
3. What do I need in this moment?

Back to the sudden maltball craving in my car… I figured I should take my own advice. Instead of making a beeline to New Seasons where they sell peanut butter maltballs the size of plums, I asked myself those questions.

That’s when I realized the craving hadn’t come from “nowhere.” I had just checked my email and learned I had zero dollars in one of my accounts. Which reminded me that I hadn’t looked at my budget this month, which reminded me that I hadn’t responded to my tax guy…

I was feeling ashamed.

The root of the word shame means to cover. And if we’re not careful, that’s what we do. Instead of shining a light on the shame, we jump to cover it up. With chocolate maltballs the ize of plums, or wine, or coffee or stuff we buy from amazon.com. Which, by the way, brings about more shame.

I was surprised. I thought I just wanted maltballs.

Then I asked myself, “Amy, what do you really need in this moment?” What I really needed was some self-love and a plan. So I told myself things that a wise, loving mentor would tell me. Stuff like, “girl, you don’t need more maltballs. You need to make friends with money again. When you get home, you’re going to make yourself some tea, put some oils in the diffuser and finish your budgeting for the month.”

So the next time you experience a “craving,” drive directly home or put the fork down or keep your credit card in your wallet… and do some digging. See if there’s some shame hiding underneath the craving. Or some other unpleasant emotion. Then ask yourself what you really need. Because chocolate might distract you for a little bit but eventually you’ll find yourself back where you started until you deal with those feelings. And when you do face the feeling, your wise mentor will helpful you figure out what to do next.

As my client pointed out the other day… that’s the difference between reacting versus responding.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kathy March 8, 2019 at 1:08 am

Perfect. Just what I needed to read today. Thank you.

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