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How to Stop Emotional Eating by Changing the World

Try finding one overarching reason to eat well.

On any given day at least a dozen people ask me how to stop emotional overeating. I've previously shared several practical tips here, so today I'm going to present something completely different: How to stop emotional eating by changing the world.

See, although the practical techniques I teach are very powerful, there's a limit to how much you can change your behavior unless and until you've got a strong enough reason to do so. For some clients, it's the threat of serious health consequences. For others it's the desired weight loss, confidence to wear favored clothing, energy to play with kids and grandchildren, better digestion, freedom from mental obsession, etc.

But the most powerful motivation by far is something which may surprise you. It's difficult to tap into, but when you do, breaking your diet for a little "emotional comfort" becomes infinitely less appealing. The most effective motivation I've ever found is a sense of purpose coupled with the belief one can actually have an impact. In short, it's the knowledge one can and will change the world in at least some small but important way.

When someone believes it's possible to change the world, they want to spend as much energy as possible on this purpose. Losing several hours from their day to recover from overeating is no longer an option, nor is the wasted mental energy to beat themselves up thereafter. Purpose and meaning trumps the desire for emotional comfort from food.

The problem is, most people don't believe they can change the world. They think they're nothing more than a little cog in a big, powerful machine, so the short-term gratification of bagels, pizza, chips, chocolate, etc. becomes more appealing. "It's the only real pleasure we can count on" says the voice of rationalization in their head. But this is a lie. By the time you're done reading this post, you'll see it just takes a little dedication to the right mindset to tap into this extremely powerful motivation to stop emotional eating.

So please excuse my immodesty and grandiosity while I'm bold enough to believe I can teach you how to change the world in a few short paragraphs.

How to Change the World

Yes, I'm confident I can change the world. At this point in my life I'm starting to have evidence: My book should have 1,000,000 readers within the year. But the thing of it is, I always felt this way, and I don't think I could've made as big a difference if I didn't. Here's how you can cultivate this feeling too.

  • Decide. First and foremost, decide you are here to change the world. Don't hope and pray for an opportunity. Forget about "someday." Forget about the obstacles. Forget about the fact you don't have nearly enough time, money, and/or emotional support. Decide what you want to change and own it. Declare it. Adopt it as a foregone conclusion and it will come. Have you declared your intentions and genuinely owned them in your soul? Have you?
  • Start with Yourself. You don't need a million person audience to change the world, you change the world first and foremost by changing yourself. When you become someone who thoroughly believes in your cause, when you embody its values in everything you do, you become a bigger catalyst for change than any multi-million dollar marketing and publicity campaign can ever provide you. In contrast, if you don't embody those values through and through, having a bigger, louder platform from which to shout will only amplify confusion.
  • Forget About the Numbers. You can and do change the world in a profound way by imparting your values, love, and wisdom into just one other person. It's contagious. If you commit yourself to it, your message will spread. For example, good parents change the world in a more profound way than I ever will. Instill love in just one other precious human being and I believe your place in heaven is secure.

    On a different level, you need to understand that there's always a bigger stage, and if you focus with depression on the people you're not reaching, you will never reach them. Be the person who dances in an empty field.

    People who envy my success think I was lucky. They didn't see the years when I showed up and sat in an empty seminar room to give my talks to an audience it turns out I'd only hoped would come. They don't know the pain I experienced while learning how to market, advertise, present, and lead. They don't know all the trials and tribulations I went through with difficult partnerships, bad business deals, and taking the short end of the stick time and again. Most importantly, they don't see how I've learned to embrace the daily struggle, even today. See, there's always a bigger stage, and you always need more resources, time, and energy to reach it. It's tough to balance. But if you're committed to your cause you can and will keep climbing. Know it. Own it.

  • Accept That if You Want to Be Loved You'll Need to Be Hated. I wish I could say my journey has been one utterly bathed with love and adoration. But along the way I learned you can't influence the world on any kind of scale if you're not willing to be hated. If you want to create change in the world, you're going to have to be the guy or gal who in some way stands up and says, "Things aren't right. You're being lied to, mistreated, and abused. The emperor has no clothes!"

    You're also going to encounter a mass of people who'd rather things didn't change. The emperor may have acquired his (or her) position with substantial support from the public, however wrongheaded that support might have been. If you want to change how they think you're going to have to take their anger. If you want to be loved, you're going to have to be hated. The more of a difference you want to make, the more public anger you're going to have to face.

  • Feed Your Audience as You Would Your Children. I spent 10 years teaching relationship marketing to an entrepreneurial audience of almost 50,000 people. The one place I saw people get stuck time and again was in thinking they were presenting to their peers or superiors. As a consequence they censored everything they had to say out of fear these people's judgment was going to crush them. But the thing of it is, you have a much broader persuasive impact when you say what you need to say as if you were speaking to your children, not your professors, school teachers, and colleagues.

    Often when I'd speak at marketing seminars I'd ask people to put their hands up if they were parents. Then, I'd ask them to KEEP their hands up if they ever got writer's block. People were perplexed about the juxtaposition of these two questions but almost all hands remained in the air. Then I'd ask, "Now, put your hand down if virtually every single day you've got something significant to tell your children." Everyone's hand would drop immediately and they'd nod in understanding.

    Don't sweat what you've got to say as if you were presenting a paper in college. Get up and say it as if your kids needed to hear it. You don't have the luxury of "parent's block" and you've already trained your creative self to say what needs to be said each day. Don't give yourself the luxury of "writer's block" either and you'll become prolific, especially if you've already embodied the principles above.

  • Stay Inspired. If you're going to change the world, the world is going to need to feel your personal inspiration. It's your energy and enthusiasm they'll respond to, not just the content of your message. So read books. Listen to inspirational audio. Get outside, for the love of God, get outside and take in what nature has to offer! There is so much to appreciate in this world despite all the madness. Take it in. You deserve it. And it's your responsibility if you're going to declare yourself a leader in this world. "You can't pour from an empty pitcher."

In closing, please do me a favor: Today, rather than looking for love at the bottom of a bag, box, or container, ask yourself what you want to change in this world, and how you are going to start right away? It could be something as simple as being a better parent, spouse, or friend, or as grand as having an impact on climate change, ending human trafficking, or curing a particular type of cancer.

Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has." I believe we should take this a quantum leap further: "Never doubt the power of one person on an organized mission to change the world, indeed its the only thing that ever has." The reason I feel justified in extending her thinking is because a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens always begins with one person's grand idea and energy. Someone has to provide the first spark, and it's always "better to light a candle than curse the darkness" (Jewish proverb).

If you'd like more inspiration to chew on instead of whatever's in your favorite bag, box, or container, consider reading my post on how to stop emotional eating, binge eating, and overeating in three unusual steps.