Our bodies need water, food, air, exercise, and rest. Disrupt the regular availability of any of these, and you won’t survive very long!
Our minds need stimulation, entertainment, perspective, feedback, humor, and rest. Mess with any of these for very long, and your mind will lose its resilience.
Our souls need communication, intimacy, encouragement, challenge, hope, meaning, depth, joy, and love. And when we don’t experience these, we go looking.
And it’s in the LOOKING that we can get into trouble.
Twelve-step programs have a phrase that illustrates this: Don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. HALT – when these needs are not met, you’re in danger! Your thinking gets cloudy, and you can easily reach for an unhealthy addiction.
In the ideal marriage many of these needs would be met by your spouse. And doesn’t every newlywed expect their soul to be filled with their lover always?
Sadly, too often that other human being fails to live up to expectations. “I love you” really meant “I love how I feel when I’m with you.” And when that feeling goes, the commitment to marriage goes.
Expecting any person or people to meet all your needs and fill your soul indefinitely will only lead to disappointment.
You wouldn’t expect your parents to keep cutting up your food and spoon-feeding you, would you? At some point you must learn to feed yourself. Get your own glass of water. Decide when to lie down and sleep.
In a similar way we must learn to feed our mind and soul. We must take responsibility for our mental, emotional, and spiritual “nutrition” just as we do our need for physical food.
These are skills that one can learn. In my early adult years I had to learn some of them the hard way after grasping onto some unhealthy dependent relationships. I had to learn to choose my own food, and feed myself.
Here are five ways you can give your mind and soul the food you must have:
- Choose the people you spend time with. Negative, needy, or selfish people will drain you. Positive, healthy, and generous people will help fill you up. (Hint: these people have learned how to feed their own soul, and hence have much to pass on!)
- Choose what enters your mind. Information, entertainment, music, internet sites, books or magazines can either drain or fill you.
- Give as well as receive. If you open your own heart, someone else may well open theirs. Giving encouragement will bring encouragement back to you. Loving someone else may well bring you love in return.
- Widen your gaze. (And here I’m NOT talking about spousal intimacy.) If your husband doesn’t enjoy shopping and endless chatting, your girlfriends can fill that need. If your wife doesn’t want to be a sports nut with you, some of your buddies will be glad to help.
- Look to God for what only He can provide. Take the time to be with Him. The tendency to fill our need for spiritual meaning with physical things or human interaction will leave you empty. There are some ways in which only God Himself can fill you up!
You don’t have to wait for someone else to meet your needs. You can choose healthy ways to stay filled up.
HALT! Take responsibility for getting your needs met before they get you!
Your turn: What things have you learned to “feed” yourself with? What fills you up? I’d love to hear from you.
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