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Comfort Foods and Relationship Patterns: Nourishing Our Souls with Familiarity and Growth

Updated: Apr 16

Have you ever found yourself puzzled by recurring patterns in your relationships, despite your efforts to change? It's a common experience to feel stuck in cycles that no longer align with the life you envision for yourself. You might wonder if breaking these patterns requires leaving the relationship altogether, or if there's a way to work through them. Interestingly, comfort foods and relationships share similarities in terms of the patterns that nourish our souls with familiarity and growth. Exploring these parallels can offer insights into how we can update our lives to reflect our evolving selves.


Relationships, patterns, and comfort food

Comfort foods and relationship patterns

Comfort foods are like time machines, whisking us back to moments of warmth and security from our pasts. They're not always the healthiest choices, but their emotional nourishment often outweighs their nutritional value. These dishes, often from our childhoods, feed our hearts and souls more than our bodies. It's curious how, as we navigate through life, these foods seem to align with certain moods, themes, or occasions, even when they no longer fit our current lifestyles or dietary preferences. Despite this, when the moment is right, we find ourselves almost automatically reaching for them, sometimes even overindulging, whether to soothe a broken heart, celebrate a joyous occasion, or simply find solace in a bowl of nostalgia.


Afterward, we may feel either a sense of satisfaction, thinking "ahhh, that was great, just what I needed..." or regret, wondering "gah... too much, why did I do that?" Fortunately, most of us depart from a comfort palette as we move along in our day-to-day lives, experiencing these indulgences as fleeting visitors.


In our interactions with people, we may experience a similar dynamic to our relationship with food. Just as certain dishes evoke feelings of comfort, celebration, or nostalgia, people can elicit familiar emotions or desires. Sometimes, we're drawn to individuals without fully understanding why. It could be an intuitive sense of deep connection, feeling at home, or simply being at ease in their presence. Other times, this sense of comfort may lead to struggles in relationships when our expectations aren't met or when we don't feel a certain way we anticipate, as if there is a hidden script that isn’t being followed. Either of these experiences signal that they have been given a role of fulfilling a need within us that goes beyond their actual nature— that the relationship is at risk of being more about our perception of them and our own emotional needs than the relationship for its own sake of wonder, connection, and engagement. We can begin to see how people, like comfort foods, can evoke a surprising complexity of triggers, memories, cravings, fill us with warmth, expansion, and satisfaction, or leave us feeling overindulged and regretful.


Recognizing these signals invites growth, self-discovery, and healing. We can notice any patterns in our thoughts, behaviors, actions, and explore if they serve us well, understanding that, like seasonings, it’s not always about all or nothing. Some aspects of these patterns may be helpful while it may be time to let go of others. In relationships, we can ask ourselves questions like:


- What does this relationship fulfill in me?

- What are my expectations of this person?

- How do I feel or behave when I am with them?

- When do I want to be with them, or not? Share with them or not?

- How do I contribute to this relationship?

- How do I feel after engaging with this relationship?

- How do I accept, know, and enjoy them just as they are, and myself with them,

just as I am?


Tuning into these signals, we may discover we make otherwise unacceptable allowances for another’s (or our own) damaging behaviors. This happens when they fulfill a need for us that we haven’t identified or are unsure how to fulfill in another way. We may find we subtly try to control and shape someone’s behaviors, words, goals, actions, other relationships, to be more like what we need them to be, rationalizing that we see potential in them to improve, and that we are supporting them. However, when we are true to our core, we can discern between genuinely supporting someone and trying to sculpt or overpower them. We may do this sculpting and rationalizing with ourselves, trying to conform or adapt to what we perceive the relationship needs “to be better.”


Nourishing Our Souls with Familiarity and Growth

Why would uncomfortable or damaging patterns feel familiar or like home within us? Very basically, we as a creature, find comfort in routines and knowns, even if they are not always the most nourishing. Unhealed wounds or loneliness, especially prolonged or significant from our younger years, can become normalized in the experiences of our cells and senses, shaping our behaviors and perceptions. Some examples of embedded experiences that we carry, as well as our unique ways of living through them, could be the loss of a parent, imbalanced relationships, bullying, illnesses, or striving to excel. These interactions with all the people and sensory inputs of those times are inside of us. We were not as equipped to be discerning, but more to be inspired, industrious, resilient, and conforming when we were little, and like that comfort food, when we find someone on the planet with any trace of the many ingredients in that old recipe in their own unique design, they are recognizable to us almost instantly. They are familiar and have the right flavor for some key texture at this time in our lives. These recipes may be showing up as a messenger when we are facing a new, unknown aspect of self, life, belonging, asking us to slow-down, look out, comfort, any number of notes to us - like a desire for a significant food for an important event. We get to choose how we relate to the note, once we know how to read it, just like we get to decide what we eat and why. 


Sometimes we may feel we did this work already, why is it coming up again! These old experiences, although we may feel we have moved beyond them, remain a part of us. We companion where we’ve been and continue adding more information to the files of our exquisite design to draw from as we go on in life, comparing, building, learning. Our mysterious self will do its job by showing us as much and whatever information as we believe is relevant. Our conscious, present self gets to decide to take it at face value and be reactive, or be responsive by taking a pause to choose what files to read, which to kindly return to the box. We may believe we are repeating certain patterns but really, we are visiting them in a new way. We can’t actually ever go backwards or truly stay still. It’s a new opportunity to update our perceptions. What is it our inner self wants us to notice? 


Like tasting a favorite dish, we can remember we are hard-wired to recognize and compare, building on our collected moments. Some things we understand and master, while others become stray flavors that intertwine with many other aspects of our lives, searching for relevancy, and seem to repeat for better or worse. These flavors can manifest in unexpected ways, influencing our behaviors and choices. It is liberating to accept that we are multi-faceted beings, influenced by biology, spirit, intellect, emotion, chemistry, and mentations. We don’t always have to know the why of everything to be present and choose where we go from here. Life is not a perfect recipe, but moments can be.


If we pause and look at the present moment and the person we are struggling with NOW with honesty, we may notice them and ourselves with fresh eyes. We can evaluate the nutritional value of this relationship in terms of our current taste, preferences, and growth. This reflection allows us to decide if this relationship nourishes us and brings joy, or if it is a remnant of a time gone locked into its own trajectory.


Once these reflections are made, we can see the relationship as it is. This realization can help break patterns and allow for tender steps to be taken with curiosity and self-compassion. By asking ourselves key questions, like who am I now, what do I most value, and what do I know about myself that shows I am safe and able to provide for myself even in challenges, we can slow the spin of other questions and unhappiness and begin to see the relationship in a new light.


If the relationship has a place in the present, it can begin anew, growing together into something more lovely than imagined, step by step, day by day, one taste at a time. Each moment is new, and we can choose to begin, and begin again. Fresh connections can be made and nourished with local ingredients that are often the yummiest, most nutritious, and fulfilling, without regrets.


If I can help guide you or your relationship through this process of updating your wiring, nourishing your soul’s growth as an individual or within your relationship, contact me directly and we’ll create your individualized relationship coaching plan. 



In Kindness,

Dr. Birdi Sinclair

Spiritual Guide, Peace Coach

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