Have you ever heard the saying “feeding the Hungry Ghost”?
In Buddhism these creatures are depicted as having large empty bellies but with thin necks so they don’t get nourished and are never really satisfied.
These ghosts are always looking for external satisfaction. What is the next “thing” I need / want?
It hit me one day before Christmas when I was out walking my dogs, how busy I’ve been feeding my own “hungry ghosts”. I was busy thinking about some particular things I wanted to buy and how great it would feel when I could get them, but which current budget restraints where stopping me from buying. I caught myself thinking “When I get this then I will be happy and satisfied”. And then I realised that I am always looking for something, or something more. More money and more TIME (definitely always more time!). More of this and more of that.
As I was making this observation, I could see that my wanting was partly coming from my scarcity mindset, of “not enough.” Because why would I want for example more time if it wasn’t for the fact that I believe that I don’t have enough of it?
I also realised that this feeling of not enough, can manifest both as a feeling of Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO as the cool kids say), and as a way of thinking “I will be happy when…”
Both of which puts my happiness on hold until some unforeseen date in the future…
Cravings can have many faces. Especially when it comes to food and eating, not to mention our body! But in my understanding what tends to drive them all are a desire to feel better. Whether that is in ourselves or about ourselves.
The renowned Physician Gabor Máte who has spent a large part of his career working in the field of addition touches more on it here in an excerpt from one of his books.
Luckily many of us don’t live our lives on that extreme end, but with that said, we all have cravings of various kinds to grapple with.
Are cravings and desires the same?
I see cravings as something that has a sense of urgency, as well as something that is of external nature which we use (like a substance or behaviour) to make us feel better in the moment.
For me a desire is more something that’s generated from within. A desire to feel a certain way or act in a certain way. How do I want to feel? And what do I need to do to feel that way?
There’s nothing wrong with desires or wanting to improve on what we are. What we have to be vigilant and watch out for though is when we get caught with thoughts that go “If only… then I would…” Or “I will be happy when…”.
I heard a colleague speak in an interview recently about how she once heard the Dalai Lama ask his audience the question “If you had everything you ever wanted, would you feel satisfied?”. She relayed that when she pondered this question for herself , it gave a profound insight into the fact that our “wanting” and desire is part of human nature. Which in turn made me think that even though one of my aims for this year is to own less “stuff”, there’s no point in telling myself that I shouldn’t buy any stuff.
That kind of restriction would definitely back-fire, for me. It would be the same as saying no more chocolate (ever)! So rather than restricting myself, my plan is to be a lot more discerning with my choices this year. Do I need it? What will it bring to my life? Why do I want it?
There’s so much information that can be gotten from asking ourselves those kinds of questions, which help us move from a place of not enough and a fear of missing out, to a place of freedom, that comes from choice.
Perhaps in this space we can also see that, yes for sure some things and certain stuff may enhance our life in some way, but it will never give us a deep sense of fulfillment, like the sensation that we can generate from within.
So it becomes important continue to ask the question “What do I need right now?”, with kindness and curiosity.
Because as it’s been said a million times (probably since it is a universal truth), that it is only in this moment that we can make a choice and to make it one that will serve us right now, but perhaps also may ripple into our future.
And if it turns out it wasn’t the best one? Sure, we can always begin again.
What choices are you going to make this week, to honour what you need,
and not just what you want?
Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?
It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.