One of the most common emotions that emotional eaters will say they feel when they turn to food is loneliness. The obvious solution to being lonely is surrounding yourself with people. So why is it that you can be sitting at a table full of people, “your people” and still feel lonely?

What often is mistaken as loneliness is the feeling of emptiness. Emptiness in the lack of an authentic connection to yourself. It is the emptiness that can be felt with not feeling worthy, or that your worth is determined by the size of your body. It can be the emptiness felt by the absence of a higher purpose. But this can feel scary and even difficult to look at. It requires you to look at things at a much deeper level. To do more of the “inner work.” What will you find? What if this means things need to change? Can you even find what it is you’re looking for?

These questions are what will keep you cycling in the external distractions of dieting, the weight that you have gained or lost, the latest exercise plan you are following, or how many calories you burned in a day. Even though these thoughts and behaviors feel like war, they are safe. They are what you know. The idea of letting go of the criticism, the harsh talk, the pain, it can feel like its too much to let go of because it feels like it is a part of you.

This is fear. And it is a lonely place, an isolated place from within yourself. See what you are longing for, is the companionship of YOU. Somewhere along the path of life, you lost that connection. That is why all the external things will never feel enough. Only YOU can honestly fill that emptiness. The relationship with yourself is one of the purest, fulfilling, and greatest gifts that you can give yourself.

But this relationship requires vulnerability and courage to find. It involves curiosity to get to know yourself in a new way and the willingness to rediscover you. Rediscovering who you are when you aren’t wearing the shields, armor, and blankets of pain, sadness, hurt, or grief. This time of rediscovery is the reward. Because what you uncover are these parts of you that maybe you knew lingered, or perhaps are just meeting for the first time. It is truly in the journey of self-discovery, where you reap the rewards.

The journey is where you learn the whys, where you find understanding and compassion. Where you see the willingness to sit with the uncomfortable emotions longer and longer and not turn to food to alleviate the discomfort. You find kinder ways to soothe yourself. You discover what it is you need, and you allow yourself to have it. You feel that hole that felt so deep and dark inside of you is finally full. Full of YOU.