THE STARVING SOUL Denying being hungry is living in the desert of deprivation. It’s similar to the delirium that happens when a person has not had ample food or water. They start seeing mirages that reflect the balm of a gentle breeze, the soothing taste of an ice-cold drink, and the fragrant cornucopia of a lavish spread. But none of it is real. Perhaps the starving person dies imagining that all the plenty in the world is at hand. But she dies nonetheless.

Starvation is the result of living with the false nourishment of half-truths and lies, rather than the real nourishment of compassion and truth. At first, the falsehoods may feel exhilarating and filling, but their empty calories will eventually take their toll. It is important to separate fact from fiction and truth from lies or misinformation. For example:

Fiction: Always putting others first is the best way to live.

Truth: It is costly to ignore and deny yourself.

There is a difference between being generous and living to please. Giving without boundary makes a victim of the giver, and can create a boiling pot of resentment. Making your life about pleasing others doesn’t elevate you or give the recipient of your desperate largesse anything of value.

Fiction: If you reveal your real self, you’ll be rejected.

Truth: If you’re encouraged to be someone other than your real self, that is rejection.

Living behind a mask may make things comfortable in the short term, but do you really want friends, lovers and even colleagues to like and appreciate you for the mask?

Fiction: You can be happy living someone else’s life and values.

Truth: You need to know your own script in order to live it.

What are your true dreams? Do you know? The saddest thing in the world is to live from someone else’s script and never take the opportunity to figure out what you really want.

Fiction: Being needy is being greedy

Being human and having needs is about being healthy, whole, and free. It hurts to be shamed and blamed for having basic needs and vulnerabilities that have every right to exist!

Fiction: You are nobody without a mate, money, looks, fame—or any other external measure of success.

Truth: You are sufficient and whole from birth.

No external or materialistic possession can define you. You are more than what you do, where you work, how much money you make or lose, what you look like. You are a soul, a being, a person who longs to be loved, accepted, and known.

Fiction: If you can’t fix it, don’t feel it.

Truth: Pretending to be okay won’t make you okay.

“Don’t cry over spilled milk.” This was a directive I learned growing up. If I could not change the situation, what was the point of feeling bad about it? I learned to bury my feelings, which only made my hunger worse. I have since discovered that what we don’t face has dominion over us. Our denial of pain does not make it evaporate. It’s like the goldfish that grows to fit the size of its bowl or pond. The bigger the hunger, the bigger the bowl of denial required to house and store it.