How Existential Suffering Drives Weight Gain

You want to lose weight, gain muscle, and take excellent care of yourself. You want to achieve these things more than anything in the world. In your mind, you are determined, committed, and serious about taking control of your health. Yet, in the moment, you continue to overeat, graze, snack at night, and binge. 

You tell yourself that you’re weak. You don’t have any willpower. You aren’t cut out for healthy eating and exercise, and it’s because you don’t deserve better health. 

Is that really what’s going on here? 

The truth is that all unhealthy addictive behaviours are rooted in existential stress. When we are suffering, we look for pain relief. For the average person, pain relief comes in food, distraction, and laziness, usually in combination. 

When it comes to forms of existential suffering, the list is long.

  • Emotional turmoil (anger, sadness, disgust, fear)
  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Financial concerns and other daily stresses
  • Self-loathing
  • Lack of meaning or purpose
  • Loss of connectedness to others
  • Struggles around the state of being
  • Difficulty in finding a sense of self
  • Loss of hope
  • Loss of autonomy
  • Loss of temporality

Who doesn’t encounter at least a few of those problems regularly? When we are suffering, we seek relief. We prioritize our pain with numbing, stimulation, and other forms of escape. When you’re eating, you’re not suffering.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the first step toward overcoming this cycle is by sitting with your pain. We are always trying to shut down our internal suffering the moment it surfaces. The greater our history of pain within a given emotion, the more sensitive we are to its presence. The more sensitive you are, the more aggressively you’ll avoid that emotional or existential suffering. Just be curious about what is going on. What am I feeling right now? Why am I feeling this way? Will turning to my common source of self-medication make me feel better or worse?

Regardless of the outcome, be forgiving. The consequence of binge eating is not what it does to your body. It is what it does to your mind. When a failure mindset overtakes you, self-sabotage will follow. Emotional Pain-> Feelings of Failure-> Self Sabotage-> Actual Failure

If you’d like to learn how to overcome this deep issue, click here.

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