After you tell me everything you want how about you lie down a bit to tell me why you think you need all these?
Following Santa’s invitation, before we start listing those New Year’s resolutions, how about we think what’s behind them, what really drives our actions and goals, and will they make us feel fulfilled or merely satisfied? Is that what we really want or the same need can be satisfied in a different way? From this perspective, life seems a hungers game, where we continuously chase the ways we can feed the various needs we have. A small challenge awaits for you at the end of this article.
Types of hungers
Coaches Michael Stratford and Deb Giffen in Hungers: the hidden motivators distinguish between three types of hungers which sometimes co-exist:
- Inner-directed – the Hunger to Receive (attention, love, admiration, recognition, praise, respect, gifts, support, touch, loyalty, information etc): feeds externally to fill an internal void
- Internal states – the Hunger to Feel (important, secure, valuable, included, unrestricted, loved, at peace, clarity etc)
- Outer-directed – the Hunger to Be, Have or to Do (successful, in control, right, useful, leader, perfect, responsible, give to others): often linked to an internal hunger and the feeling of void cannot be removed without feeding both hungers.
Whether these hungers were instilled by our childhood, some trauma, the society or our human nature, they need to be fed.
How to feed these hungers
The coaches advise to acknowledge these instinctual hungers, know their intensity and feed them regularly, in various portions and in a healthy way to escape their power. This means also discovering dining in (internal) methods to feed these hungers in order to reduce our dependence on dining out (external) methods. It also means being aware of where and how these hungers are already fed and if in a healthy way. By doing so, we can boost the healthy foods and cut down on for example toxic relationships.
Bingeing as a result of serious long-term deprivation can put our well-being on a roller-coaster ride and lead to making the wrong choices. Imagine becoming so deprived of affection that you could commit to the wrong partner while in fact there are many other sources of affection such as hugs, playing with pets or even self-care. It takes conscious choice, flexibility to accept the variety of foods to feed on but also a network of support we can rely on.
From hungers to values, vision, purpose and mission
With further reflection, hungers can fine-tune our goals, but also be turned into values and a higher vision, purpose and mission. For example, if someone wants to get a management role, by digging deeper and realising that this goal only hides a hunger for recognition of self-worth, one can find other ways to feed this hunger like being a great parent. By doing so, the person can pursue their goal more at ease and more relaxed as they no longer pursue it in a famished state and this goal is no longer the only source of nutrition for this hunger. Or the person could change their goal altogether as no longer fit or that precious because they realised it’s not even what they wanted in the first place.
Once a hunger is no longer a one-way street but applies globally, it becomes a value that enriches your existence. For example, no longer chase love for my own comfort but be loving. When we give what we are yearning for we often get it back as well – like when you smile and the person smiles back. When a hunger is fed, we get satisfaction, whereas when we live according to our values, we feel fulfilled.
Then we discover our vision – the type of world we want to live in: I want to live in a loving and caring world. Then we discover our purpose – what we are called to do: have a loving family and show affection and support. And we define our mission – what we’ll do to turn this vision into reality.
I love it how simple the book describes this process: vision=Eyes, purpose=Heart and mission=Hands.
To link your hungers with your vision, try to ask yourself (and those close to you) if in your interactions with people over the course of your life there was a constant message you’ve delivered. Then reflect how is one of your hungers related to this, how it operates and where have you shared this learning with others.
In my case, I was pleased to see that those close to me also perceived me as my personal statement on this blog shows. I believe in a world where we are free and equal to explore (including multiple identities and roles), where we can open our minds, grow and help others grow continuously not only through reason, enhanced awareness, consciousness and reflection, but also by reconnecting to our heart and essence. Life is about continuous becoming, overcoming our fears and limitations and upgrading ourselves, while nurturing loving relationships where we support others to be who they are and in their becoming. So dare to set an example that life can be lived differently. Thinking of this vision, no wonder I worked in training, research, change management, organisational development and communication.
Challenge for you
Baby steps. So coming back to the holiday season, I invite you to take some time for yourself and:
- List some New Year’s resolutions
- Try to identify which hunger the top three would feed
- What’s the status of this hunger: starving, craving, hungry (still under control) or elemental (cannot live without, linked to your purpose)
- How else this hunger is already fed in this life – also focus on unhealthy junk food you should drop
- How could you feed this hunger on a regular, healthy, sustainable basis, including dine-in methods independent of external sources: identify concrete actions and timing
- Who in your community could help feed this hunger
- Re-assess your resolutions: keep/discard/replace with, change priorities
- (If you want to go deeper) What is the source of this hunger and How my life has benefited from having this hunger: experiences, people I met, achievements, learning points
Equally you could analyse any habits that you might not know why you have them. This is how I actually ended up reading this book. I found that I always listen with the intention to contribute and improve which can sometimes be annoying as some people just need to be heard and nothing else. But then digging deeper I also discovered a hunger for control due to a lack of trust that my interlocutors could find a better solution and a hunger for appreciation and proving my worth. When these hungers are fed elsewhere, even through meditation or more gentle self-talk, you no longer act impulsively to have them fed at any occasion despite the circumstances. It does take some discipline to monitor that your hungers are fed regularly and from a rich variety of sources.
Or go through the hungers-to-mission process.
Happy becoming! Would love to hear about it.