Searching for comfort but never finding it? You may be looking in the wrong places.
I get it, as humans we seek and crave comfort from external things. We look for comfort from food, from drugs or alcohol, from rites and rituals, or from a sould mate to name a few.
It starts from the day we’re born. To a degree, we can’t get around that. As a species we need warmth, food, and affection. So I’m certainly not denying that physical comfort is crucial to the secure development of babies. But as we grow and the neural connections form, we begin to make associations. Certain items or actions became associated with comfort.
Over time, we learned to seek our own comfort, and we nearly always look for it outside of ourselves.
Skinned knees led to cookies, stuffed animals kept us safe from the dark, a drink gave us confidence, and food fed our emptiness.
Food is a big source of comfort. But in addition to food, where else do you look for comfort? Friends and family? Rituals and routines? TV or video games? Alcohol or other substances? Prayer?
Without getting deep into a religious discussion, don’t the 10 Commandments warn us to not have idols? When we give something on the outside the power to comfort us or to make everything feel ok, we’re making it an idol.
The biggest gift you can give yourself toward your mental and physical health and wellbeing is to learn that your true source of comfort is within you.
You’re a microcosm of the entire Universe.
That means you have everything you need inside you. Inside you is lasting and consistent love and support.
When you know, deep in your core, that you have what you need, and that you’re good enough right now, you don’t need to seek comfort from other people or things.
At best, comfort from the outside is temporary.
At worst, it can be withheld or unavailable, and then what?
When we turn to food or drink for comfort, is it lasting or is it temporary?
Sure, it can feel good for a short time, but it’s typically followed by feeling even worse. Anyone whose spent a night binging on booze or ice cream in an attempt to numb the pain can attest to that.
Here's what to do instead. When you feel agitated, upset, bored, or whatever, get quiet. You can sit still and be quiet, or you can get out in nature, or take a short walk. However it works best for you, get quiet and ask yourself what’s really going on.
“Why am I anxious right now?”
“What’s going on behind this tension?”
“Why do I feel bored?”
Let the honest answers come to you. Listen to the answers patiently, but don’t give them power. Remind yourself that you have everything you need, you’re good enough right now, and that everything is ok.
Let the honest answers come to you. Listen to the answers patiently, but don’t give them power.at first. Like any new habit, this might feel strange, and you might feel like you’re not very good at it at first. That’s completely normal, so don’t let that discourage you.
Don’t give up on reminding yourself that you don’t need anything from the outside to comfort you, you have everything you need inside of you. You have it at all times and in all places.
At first you might not even be able to believe this to be true, but little by little you’ll make progress and you’ll find yourself less likely to reach for food or other outside things for your comfort, so stick with it.