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Do Emotional Eaters Have (Busy) Body Issues?

Do you have a busybody? Are cravings getting the better of you? You’ve heard me say before, food isn’t the issue. The root cause of many cravings, and emotional eating, goes way beyond what you put in your mouth.

One answer to uncontrollable cravings can come from an uncomfortable place. You may be a busybody.

Who, Me, a Busybody?

Emotional eaters don’t only have body issues, we have BUSYBODY issues that contribute to emotional eating.

“Just as cooks pray for a good crop of young animals and fishermen for a good haul of fish, in the same way busybodies pray for a good crop of calamities or a good haul of difficulties that they, like cooks and fishermen, may always have something to fish out and butcher.” ~ Plutarch, “On Being a Busybody”

Of course, nobody wants to admit they’re a busybody.

Here’s the thing, before you get your hackles up, people aren’t busybodies out of malice: busybodies are often filled with good intentions but they’re driven by unconscious reasons.

Here are some common busybody patterns:

  • A caretaker. You are highly attuned to people in need. You feel good being mama duck, making sure your little ducklings are all in a row, right where you want them, where they’re happy and safe (think “hover mom”). Have you ever tried to get someone to change? Have you ever felt frustrated that people didn’t do what you asked, and not only resisted your efforts but challenged you?
  • A rescuer. You feel the need to step in, save the day, and where possible, take over and control the situation. Have you ever felt hurt because the person you’re trying to help kindly or not-so-kindly told you to butt out? Do you do routinely your kids’ homework, and/or make the last-minute rush to school if they’ve forgotten their project at home… and end up with kids who expect you to be the homework fairy all the time.
  • A gossip. You ask about people, but (be honest here) not with a genuine interest in their wellbeing but with a morbid fascination about their drama. Have you ever felt superior to someone … and then felt guilty for feeling superior to them?
  • A do-gooder. You volunteer when you shouldn’t, when it makes you feel resentful and stressed and it comes from superiority or obligation, and not joy. Have you ever felt like an overwhelmed and stressed martyr because you realize too late that you’ve taken on too much, nobody else is lifting a finger, and the burden falls on your shoulders?

I don’t mean to imply that helping is a bad thing. We are hard-wired to help each other and it’s a necessary component of being a human being. The problems arise when people try to help for the wrong reasons.

If situations like these lead you straight to the fridge, there’s good news. You can get out of the busybody trap and get your life back.

Why it’s easy to fall into the busybody trap

Two things cause people to become busybodies:

  • Control (or lack thereof). Emotional eaters are often control freaks because we feel out of control ourselves. Going a bit deeper, the ego needs to be in control; and the ego always needs to be right. Everyone loves rush of stepping in and saving the day… but. Ego is arrogant. Ego drives a need to take over so you can be smarter/wiser/stronger and more in control than others. That often backfires when people see you as an arrogant know-it-all.
  • Distraction. Focusing on other people’s problems also provides an effective distraction from our own problems, feelings, reality, and thoughts. It’s uncomfortable to face our own stuff and easier to hide behind other people’s problems.

I don’t have a nickel in that quarter!

My favorite saying that keeps me out of trouble: “I don’t have a nickel in that quarter.” That means, whatever is going on, if it has nothing to do with me, I need to leave it alone.

Here is a 5-step method to tune into your inner busybody and break the pattern:

1) Pause and consider. Can you really afford the extra time, effort, and stress? If not, count to 10… and give someone else a chance to help. Always saying “I’ll do it” at your own expense leads to stress that causes emotional eating. Help only when it feels really good to help! Otherwise, say no. There are others who can do it!

2) Tell yourself, “Not my monkeys, not my circus!” There are circuses going on all around you. You have a choice whether you step into the ring or not. Drama = stress. You meddle, feelings get hurt (they probably didn’t want you to butt in but were too polite to say so), and you placate with food.

3) Ask yourself, “What got me in this situation?” if you’re already in a situation that’s backfiring. The answer is always, “I got myself in this situation.” Taking responsibility helps you be more aware of your choice, and avoid making it next time.

4) Say no more often… to yourself. Tell yourself, it’s okay not to butt in. People are who they are. You can’t change them. Just love ‘em “as is.” If you’re doing your kids’ homework… remind yourself, homework helps kids learn the subject matter, but it also teaches them self-discipline, responsibility, and best of all, consequences. The real world is a harsh place for anyone who is used to being rescued!

5) Don’t take on other people’s problems. Instead of sympathizing and trying to fix the situation for them, ask them questions that encourage them to solve their own problems. Empower them, don’t be superior to them, and don’t drain yourself trying to help.

Being a busybody is NOT worth it. It can destroy relationships, ruin your health, wreck your mood, and prevent you from enjoying life.

When you start to see when you’re stepping into situations that have nothing to do with you, you lower your stress and lower your cravings.

The biggest challenge is knowing when to say no to others and to yourself. Push through the discomfort. It gets easier with practice! Making this one change may be uncomfortable, but it will automatically reduce weight on your mind… and your body! I promise!

If you want different results in your life, you have to learn to say,

“Not my pig, not my sh*t.”