I had to learn to become intimately familiar with my own emotions.
I thought I was a feeling person, only to discover that instead of feeling my emotions, I was distracting myself from them.
I know this because I was 40lbs overweight, miserable and had the same conversations in my head every day.
“Why can’t you stick with a healthy diet?” “Why are you so miserable?” “If I just eat one of those, it won’t be a problem, right?” “What’s wrong with you?” “Why are you being controlled by a quart of chocolate chip ice cream?” Funny thing, my clients often have similar thoughts running through their heads when they start coaching.
At the time, I was unhappy and wanted a change. I told myself I was destined to be unhappy. Even if things were good, I felt bad. I had deep beliefs that I was not worthy and I was not good enough. I know this is a story told many times. The story is simple and true.
That deep belief affected my emotions and I didn’t want to have anything to do with the negative ones.
I wanted to be happy and grateful. I would be strong (resist). I would pretend I didn’t feel afraid of new situations. I would hide the shame (distract) I felt because I didn’t have a better education or a better job. I would blame my family (react) for growing up abused.
Most of the time I distracted myself with food. Sugar to be specific.
Then I learned that my emotions are created by the thoughts in my head. These sentences –“I am unworthy. What is wrong with me?” created very sad and punishing feelings.
These feelings manifested in my body as vibrations (hormonal messages from my sympathetic nervous system) that compounded the negative sensation. Often, I would have a physical feeling of shame come over me without being aware of where it was coming from.
When I learned to sort out the physical vibrations in my body and the thoughts in my head, I learned that just because my heart was beating fast and my throat was closed and I was flushed with heat – the feeling of shame – didn’t mean I deserved to be punished.
I was determined not to feel shame because I thought if I felt it, it meant I deserved it.
If I felt it and thought it, it must be true.
When I separate the thought and the physical vibration I call “shame” – and realize that I don’t deserve to feel it because I haven’t done anything shameful, it ain’t so bad.
I don’t have to believe my thoughts about shame.
Just because you think it, doesn’t make it true.
You are a perfect specimen of a human being; you are 100% lovable.
My own thoughts are rooted in my abusive past. As a young girl, I confused love with power and power was abused.
I don’t have to fear my own mind and my own body anymore. It is a gift.
If you are going to change your life and your relationship to food and health:
Don’t Resist Feeling
Don’t React to Emotions
Don’t Distract from Feeling
Do This Instead – when you feel driven to eat and you are not physically hungry:
Step 1. Notice and describe the physical vibrations in your body.
Step 2. Name the emotion associated with it.
Step 3. Be willing to observe the emotion like a curious scientist.
Step 4. Write the thoughts – sentences in your head.
Step 5. Question those thoughts.
This is the start of a whole new relationship with your emotions. Befriend them and let them work for you, pointing you in a healthy direction.
If you want help looking at your thoughts with one on one support, I’d love to talk. Together we can uncover your patterns of emotional eating. If you are ready to lose the weight and learn how to keep it off, I am here for you.