Well-Fed But Emotionally Hungry: Feeding Your Hungry Parts
Are you well-fed but emotionally hungry? Do you find yourself in a cycle of self-sabotaging behaviors within yourself and in your relationships?
Often Filipino women (& men, LGBTQI) I see in my practice don’t have a mental health diagnosis but they seek support for what feels like being “all over the place.”
“Anong kalat ‘to (what mess is this)?” your Filipino mom might say.
It’s the same feeling of being misplaced, having little control despite trying to manage all of the “stuff,” , a feeling of chasing something un-chasable like the wind.
Despite of this, you may be conditioned to look at the brighter side of things (only), and never mind if noone played with you as a kid because look at all the toys you have!
These children grow up to be well-fed, meaning, having the basics and beyond, given the luxuries of life but missing out on the essentials of what makes you, human. To be human is to be nurtured, felt and deeply connected without fear of being unloved or threaten with love withdrawal strategies as a constant.
Are you emotionally hungry?
EMOTIONALLY HUNGRY MANIFESTATIONS
Humans are much capable to experience trauma and be able to digest and integrate its negative impact with or without therapy. It’s a bias in the western world to think that when an experience has not been expressed in words that it has not been expressed at all.
In many cultures including the indigenous Filipinos, various expressions are given appropriate stage for release through drumming, chanting, use of music….etc. In modern psychotherapy, you may find these practices absorb in the western healing platform through creative arts modalities and the use of the body and movement.
Language and non-language expressions are both vital portals for healing.
The emotionally hungry individual may find blockage in expressing in both (or one) of these portals.
You can be so intellectually filled with words to tell your story but disconnected to your body. In this manner, there is confusion to what pleasure feels. Since the emotionally hungry was not nurtured with the juice of connection and warmth, anything that seems to provide warmth may feel like a connection.
You may find yourself in relationship with partners that you thought adored you one minute and oblivious of your needs in the next. It may also be true that these partners may later reveal to you “ but i told you, I wasn’t really into you..” and even such words do little to convince you that it wasn’t really love, the kind that you hoped for.
You have an insatiable craving that you’re trying to fill relentlessly.
It can also manifests through your hyper-alertness of anxiety through your racing heart rate, your flustered face, and your weary body. These are all signs that the body is communicating a need for nurturing rather than just a quick pick-me-up.
Language may support in labeling such signals of the body to help it feel heard. It’s as if you are tending to a crying child and finally asking- “ok, honey, what is it that you really need?”
Here are other ways that being emotionally hungry can manifest within you and in your relationships. Please use this list as a guide rather than an assessment tool. If you see yourself in one or a few of the bullet points below, know that you are looking for patterns not just a one-time (or few) incidents.
- You aim to please others despite the cost to your well-being. You might find yourself saying yes in many occasions, burn out and sometimes resenting yourself or the other party.
- You chase your career like the wind. Success is your high but more so a camouflage to the emptiness you feel inside.
- You become the mother you despise or the total opposite of her.
- You don’t know what pleasure feels in your own body. You are in the cycle of experimenting with your body to feel something.
- You are a perfectionist. You obsess with your output because there is hunger in the input of connection and warmth.
- You keep looking to your side, watching what other people are doing so you can figure out what you need to do next. The standard you have is the standard others lived by recreating a cycle of hunger.
- You hold anger or low empathy towards your parents and blame them for what you have become. Or, you over empathize with your own parents’ hardships, you dismiss that there is space for improvement in the ways they have parented you.
This is not an exhaustible list. Please consult with a mental health professional if you need additional support or schedule a consult with me here.
THE DIGITAL WORLD: SNACKING FOR CONNECTION
The digital world has brought us closer globally. I personally use the apps messenger and viber to connect with my mom and friends back home. I remember not seeing my lola for a couple of years since she lived in the States and I was in the Philippines as a child. Picking her up in the airport feels like a big reveal like those shows were you wonder- how does she look like now?
At one point my lola had been diagnosed with cancer and I haven’t seen her for three years. Picking her up in the airport was a jolt in my system. The usual large curls in her hair, her rosy cheeks and her beautiful face appeared frail, pale and she held an unfamiliar stick in her hand, a cane, to steady her gait.
If these apps used today were present before, there wouldn’t be that jolt in my system for I would’ve witnessed her transformation and the big reveal was her presence and energy not the change in her appearance.
The digital world indeed has advanced our way to communicate and to widen our reach. I appreciate it for what it is but diligent in disciplining myself for what it’s not meant for.
I’m specifically talking about facebook, instagram and all the other social media platforms. I am excluding groups/individual connection through an online platform like zoom or the like. As a psychotherapist that sees my clients on-line, I know that the benefits of the latter is immense.
When you are emotionally hungry, the world is narrow and small. The digital world can make it appear even smaller. You can find groups that otherwise, you won’t find unless you commit yourself to entering unfamiliar places. Awkward exchanges of eye contact and hand-shaking and should I sit in this table are questions skipped in the digital world.
Instead you can comment or like someone’s feed and engaged in this way. Engagement is still better than none of course. I’ve observed on-line spaces where people are on the edge of their mental health and have been encouraged by people in the group.
But you can come and go in the digital world and so does the other person on the end. The commitment level varies and someone relying on it for emotional fill can find themselves dysregulated and disappointed.
Snacking for connection to nurture your hungry parts may be necessary at dire moments but not sustainable.
FEEDING YOUR HUNGRY PARTS
To get acquainted with your body and your entire system take slowing down. When you are on to something before you even get to one thing is a whirlwind to your nervous system.
Especially in the Western world of consumerism, people think that to be successful I need more of that stuff. This mind-set permeates in so-called wellness, coaching and therapy platforms. People keep shopping for tools and coaching programs so that they can flash their way to being the best version of themselves.
The art of slowing down is the means to going fast.
I often have to spend some time removing some extraneous tools when clients enter with a huge backpack of tools. Tools that don’t necessarily help them but rather keep them busy.
To feed your hungry parts will mean feeling through your pain. It doesn’t mean re-traumatizing yourself or flooding your space with childhood memories you ought to forget about. You would need a mental health professional for this type of support. Seek out one or schedule a complimentary 30-minute consult with me to see if we’re a good fit.
You can start practicing with the present moment. Begin with:
- Decluttering your space. It may not be the entire house, just a tiny space would do.
- Track during your waking hours (12-16 hours), how much of what doesn’t serve you, do you consume? This varies from one person to the other. It may be time on social media, watching videos, even reading books that make you feel bad about yourself, listening to the radio or podcast. The key to discovering what does you good or not is whether things you consume makes you feel bad about yourself or make you think you need to move or change right away or that there is a magic pill for transformation.
- Learn to listen to your breath or the movement of your chest. If you’re not used to this, the best way to start is to doodle your breath. Breathing in as an upward stroke and breathing out as a downward stroke. In the beginning, set your timer to 2 minutes and move up to a comfortable duration.
- Watch your language. Don’t claim that anxiety is your identity. It’s simply the language of the body that alerts you that you need to attune to it not judge it. When you feel your body is trying to tell you something, stop. Slow down and listen. If you can’t decipher it yet. State it. I don’t know what you mean yet but thank you for giving me a nudge.
- Sometimes people who you need the most for emotional connection can be the source of pain and anguish, it’s okay to keep a distance while your working on making your emotional foundation stronger. You can do this by perceiving difficult people and relationships as your best teachers.
- Find ways to express beyond words. Language is central to the left brain functionalities which includes logic, rationality, detail-orientedness and many more. In feeding your hungry parts, words do little to nurture it for the famish state is laden with words. People who are emotionally hungry can be over-critical of themselves. Words pour like a storm in their heads- in this case, the left brain works hard like a narrow flashlight beam.
To heal, you need a wider flashlight beam. Using images, art, journaling, collaging, poetry, sounds and movements are the languages the body understands. If you need support, schedule a consult with me here.
- Surround yourself with people who can see more of you than you can see of yourself. If you enter a dark dungeon, find someone you can hold a candle for you so you can begin to see what they see. Soon, the light in the dungeon will help you see that what you thought was a dungeon was everything but!
These are just starter lists of recommendation. I personally enjoy collaging,journaling and doodling. And by the way, you don’t have to be an artist. I can only draw stick figures.
You are worth more than crumbs of love that someone is willing to spare for you. But before anyone can see that, you must see it in yourself.
Life and childhood circumstances are rarely perfect. Our parents can only teach what they know.
The good news is, you can begin right in this moment.
If you don’t know yet how.
Ask yourself: How can I truly love you in this moment…..and then the next…..and then next….?
Treat a mis-step as just another step towards your destination- YOU.
Soon, with slowing down and practice, what used to be hungry is satisfied and filled.
Practice progress over perfection. Perfection is an illusion.
You already are.
Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 15 years. She has frequented at least 500 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care. To access self-paced courses and other resources, enter the Kalamansi Juice Academy.
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