When I’m training coaches in the Courageous Living Coach Certification, it’s common for a question to come up:
“If I want to help my clients love and accept themselves just as they are…how am I also helping them to change their lives? Isn’t that counter to loving and accepting yourself as you are, if you’re trying to change your life?”
I think of this question every year around New Year’s, as well, as one half of the internet exhorts us all to #hustle and #newyearnewyou and #goalsgoalsgoals, while the other half of the internet positions itself as far too cool to, ugh, make New Year’s resolutions.
Therein lies the quandary, it seems: if you aren’t hungry for more, you might be settling for too little, but if you’re hustling for more, you’re probably exhausting yourself with hungry ghosts. Either way, everyone is hungry.
Hunger—now that’s a fun metaphor to play with. When our coaches ask me this question about self acceptance seemingly poised in opposition to having a life where you hunger for more, how we treat what we hunger for ends up being the perfect explanation.
If you are hungry—literally, hungry—there’s nothing wrong with being hungry. The state of being hungry isn’t an actual problem, nor is wanting to feed yourself if you are hungry.
What is a problem, is what we do to ourselves or others, in order to be fed.
If you are hungry—literally, hungry—and you have a fear that there will not be enough food that makes you insatiable to the point of gorging and binging on every scrap of food you come across, you probably aren’t going to feel good.
Or, if you are literally hungry, but you are convinced that you don’t deserve food because something is wrong with your body, you probably aren’t going to feel good.
If you are hungry and live in a society that makes it harder for you to get food than for others to get food, this also won’t feel good.
Hunger, and desiring the cessation of hunger, isn’t wrong or bad. You can love and accept yourself as someone who will have hungers, desires, cravings. You’re not wrong for fulfilling those cravings.
In the same way that literal hunger and fulfillment of literal cravings isn’t wrong or bad, neither is the hunger for more that many of us have around changing our lives for the better. Some of us, whether dictated by karma or cosmos, do seem to have a hunger for more in this lifetime and I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. We’re all just stardust walking around in meat suits, after all, and it makes sense that we’re each taking a different trip.
For some, the hunger—a right and justified hunger—will be the things that are flashier like book deals and traveling the world. For others, the hunger—a right and justified hunger—will be a good life with books and a home and children.
(Clearly, either way, I am revealing my bias that a well-lived life involves…books).
What we do to ourselves, others, the planet when we are hungry, how we speak to ourselves, how we treat ourselves on the way to fulfill our hungers, how we use or waste resources, how we deny or allow access to those same resources for others…that’s where either health or dysfunction can enter the picture.
The hunger for more isn’t wrong. A hunger for more isn’t what makes a person selfish. It’s how they go about fulfilling that hunger, that may or may not be selfish.
A huge clue about which it is? Selfishness won’t feel good, not in that deeply nourished, well-fed kind of way that endeavors of the soul can feed us.
I say, lean in to your hunger for more. It’s been my experience that (unfortunately) the people least concerned with whether or not their behavior could be doing damage are the ones doing the most damage. The people who have a desire to lean in to what they are hungry for, but who hold themselves back for fear that they are wanting too much or that what they want isn’t possible, are the ones who have a healthy ability to bring presence to the process—they just get stuck around holding themselves back.
Allow yourself to hunger for more, to lean in to what you’re actually craving and satisfy those cravings with the food of life that will leave you most sated.