Food & Money
At any point in my life, if you had asked me what my biggest problems are, my answer would have been: “Food and money.”
I ate too much, and I didn’t have enough money.
I “tackled” these problems all the time. I was constantly looking for new low-calorie recipes. I had a new plan every day for how to curb my eating problems (it was usually some form of no-eating-this-certain-type-of-food-ever-again). I was constantly making lists of all our bills and counting up how much money we could make if my husband and I both had part time jobs and only spent $200 on groceries every month and took out another home equity loan to pay off the credit card debt that had, once again, gotten out of control.
But nothing ever changed. In fact, things got much, much worse.
It finally dawned on me somewhere in my 30s that no matter how little I ate, how small my body was, how much money I made, or how carefully I budgeted and planned, I still felt out of control around food and money. But I had absolutely no idea these two things were related.
I tackled my relationship with food first, because it was the one that occupied the vast majority of my attention. I was constantly thinking about food, worrying about what I had eaten, and trying to change how I felt about it. No matter how controlled I was, how careful I counted calories, how much I exercised, how many articles I read, or how many 0-point soups I perfected, I was still a mess.
During my recovery from binge-eating disorder, I learned how restriction and deprivation caused the crazy feelings about food, and the solution was to eat more and learn to love myself no matter what. No small task, but at least I finally understood the pattern and could focus on the solution. Huge relief!
Once I had mostly resolved my relationship with food, I realized my money problems were bigger than ever. And the most confounding part was that I had no idea why it was so out of control. No matter how much money we made, it wasn’t enough. No matter how carefully I planned, we were always struggling. And no matter how much freedom I gave myself with spending, I still felt deprived and miserable.
I remember receiving a totally unexpected check from a title company after we purchased our home. Apparently there was some miscalculation and we had overpaid on taxes. The check was more than $3,000. I think most people would be really happy with that little gift from the Universe, but I sat and stared at it, with the deepest feeling of despair. And you know what I said? “This won’t be enough to get us out of debt.”
And then my next thought was, “Oh my god...what’s wrong with me?” I absolutely could not feel safe with money. There was never enough.
The worst part is not knowing what is wrong. When it comes to money, the solution seems really straightforward, doesn’t it? Just get more money.
I was working 4 jobs (in addition to being a mother to 3 kids, 3 dogs, and 3 cats), stretched incredibly thin, busy all the time, and still couldn’t pay the bills. I finally reached rock-bottom, and knew something had to change.
Because of the work I’d already done on my relationship with food, I knew the money thing was a deeper issue that I hadn’t discovered yet. But still didn’t get how closely related the two issues were.
Fast forward through hours of Money Bootcamp, Financial Reiki, books, articles, meditations, subliminal messages, hypnosis, tapping, prayer, conversations with family, and Quicken tutorials, and here’s what I finally understood: my relationship with money reflected deep feelings of deprivation.
Just like my relationship with food. Duh.
It’s no coincidence that these two areas of life are the most basic elements of survival: you literally cannot live in this world without food and money. And I didn’t feel worthy of having enough of either.
You know how when you feel like you’re eating too much, you think the solution is to eat less? And then that doesn’t really work because the less you eat, the more obsessed you become with food? The more you diet, the more backlash binges you have.
Well, that’s what we do with money, too. The more you struggle, the more guilty you feel about spending. The more you deny yourself. The more you restrict and cut back and deprive yourself, and the more you reach for the credit card for some relief. At least that’s what I did.
When you feel deprived in some area, you compensate in unproductive ways. If you’re wearing stained underwear with holes in them because you don’t deserve or “can’t afford” to buy new ones, you’re deprived. If you eat Ramen noodles and fruit snacks 3 meals a day because you’re “broke,” you’re deprived. If you never go out and have fun, buy concert tickets, or have meals with friends because you feel like there’s not enough money, you’re deprived.
The solution to both issues is meeting those deep needs; relieving that sense of deprivation and restriction. Giving yourself enough.
Maybe it’s not even enough food or enough money that you need, but something much deeper. Maybe you need enough love, support, or comfort. Maybe you need enough self-respect or self-care. Maybe you need enough fun, happiness, and fulfillment.
I always find it helpful to ask myself: “If it’s not about food, what is it about?” and now I’m also asking, “If it’s not about money, what is it about?” What is the deeper issue that you’re compensating for? What do you really need?
What do your relationships with food and money look like? Can you see the similarities? Leave a comment and let me know!
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