Ep #5: The Power of Feeling Your Emotions

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Last week, we took a deep dive into the topic of emotional eating and how we resist or suppress our negative emotions by stuffing ourselves with food, making it impossible to lose weight. Today, we continue the conversation about our feelings and explore the alternative to eating our emotions.

Join us as we explore the importance of actually feeling your feelings without resisting, suppressing, or reacting to them.  I share powerful tools and techniques that you can begin using today to practice processing your emotions and finally stop reaching for the go-to foods that are keeping you overweight and unhealthy.

Don’t miss this important opportunity to learn how to stop emotionally eating!

Download a Free Worksheet to help you get started with analyzing your feelings. If you have any questions about this process, please email them to me at pat@beauprecoaching.com

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • The importance of feeling your feelings.
  • Why resisting and reacting to your emotions does not work to your advantage.
  • The process for analyzing your emotions.
  • How to properly process your feelings.
  • What self-coaching is all about and how you can begin applying it in your everyday life.

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight, a podcast for women approaching 60 who have been successful at everything but reaching their weight loss goals. Tune in each week for tools and strategies to help you lose weight, create a strong body, and support a healthy mind. Here's your host, certified weight and life coach, Pat Beaupre Becker.

Hello my dears. 2018, we have started. And I have a confession to make. I actually have discovered that I am suffering from something that I'm calling 'techno over-consumerism'. And it is basically this idea that there's so much amazing information out there that sometimes you just have to close the door to it. So I don't know if you're like me and you may be subscribed to hundreds of amazing websites and lists that offer you the best of the best. And this is like one of my favorite things about technology, but I also understand that too much of anything is not necessarily a good thing.

So I'm getting ready to launch a challenge in my closed Facebook group, and what I want to talk about is creating successful New Year's resolutions and goals. So in my inbox, I have so many different articles and right now I had three emails open and each of those emails had links to about six articles each on how you can make the best goal, how to stick to your goals.

You know what, I am going to have constraint, and that's just what we need for 2018 because back to basics is really important. I know about food, I know about our emotions, I know the brain science, and I know how to create action and motivation, and also that vision is required in order to achieve your goal. So simplify, simplify, simplify. Really what I want to do is just go back to focusing on food, feeling, action, vision. This is really what my program focuses on. It's not about macro, it's not about one size fits all. Because the one thing that's so fantastic about one on one weight loss coaching is that we design a program for you, for your body, for your needs, and to reach your goals. Because not everybody has the same goals, right?

So anyway, I am giving up my techno over-consumerism and constraining myself back to basics, and I hope that you can do the same. So enough about that. Now let's talk about one of these key elements of my program, which is emotions or feelings. So in episode four, I talked about emotional eating, and at the end of that episode I said it was my goal to get you to want to learn how to feel your feelings, and so today is going to be feel your feelings 1.0. So I am hoping that you are curious about how to feel your feelings, and I'm also curious about what your opinion of your feelings is.

I know for me, I had a very bad opinion of my emotions, of my feelings. I did not like them, didn't like the way they felt, I thought they meant horrible things about myself, and as a result I did not want to feel them at all. And the cost to me was instead of feeling them, I was distracting myself, I was stuffing myself, and I was feeling a lot of other negative emotions as a result of stuffing my feelings.

So today I want you to understand that you can feel your feelings. I want you to remember that there's a benefit to processing your feelings. I also want you to know it is really safe to feel your feelings, because nothing has gone wrong. And the more you practice feeling your feelings, you will actually create a competence and a confidence so that you know that you can feel anything. And then once you practice it, you actually can take small risks, and those small risks will probably give rise to those feelings again, and you will go in and have another opportunity to practice them.

So we know that our thoughts create our feelings, and we know that we can learn to influence and change our thoughts. And I will talk more about that in future episodes, but when we can't figure out our thoughts, like I know when I had this urge to eat in the evening and I would just eat sugar, and I couldn't stop it, and I really couldn't figure out what it was I was thinking, it didn't seem to be a thought because the urge was just like - it was just urgent, right? So there might also be times when I don't want to change my feeling. Like, you know, when I was feeling sad about my mom, missing her over Christmas, missing my brother, I didn't want to change those feelings. I really wanted to honor those feelings and feel them.

So learning how to feel it and how to process is really, really important. And it is important because there are some benefits. And the benefit is to be human and to really be an embodied human being, to accept reality. They also motivate us to action. Really important. And sometimes, the feeling of motivation could be as simple as a desire to wear a certain article of clothing, right? For example, I had a client who - there was this local yoga studio and they had this top and she really wanted to wear this top but she didn't like the way she looked in this top, and so her goal was to lose 10 pounds. And as a result of keeping the vision of that shirt in her mind's eye, she actually was willing to turn down treats over the holidays, and as a result, lost the 10 pounds and now is able to wear that top. So her emotion of desire gave her the ability to say no to these holiday treats.

So before I go into tell you how to identify your feelings, it's really important to understand what you might be doing now. So when an emotion comes up, let's just say like, I'm embarrassed, and I don't want to feel that emotion, it feels terrible, I think it means something horrible about myself, so I really just push it away. I'm tensing my body and I'm trying to pretend it's not there. If you could imagine someone's trying to open the door and you're standing there pulling the door knob with all of your might, you're using all your tension to keep that door closed while there's this huge pressure pulling the door, and that's what it's like to resist your feelings, or the opposite, if you're holding the door and they're trying to open the door and you're just holding it tight as hard and as strong as you can to make it stay shut. And that's what I call resisting emotion, and that actually has a lot of tension in it, it's pretty exhausting.

You might also be reacting to your emotions, and this is very interesting because I thought when I was yelling or screaming I was actually feeling the feelings of anger, or frustration, but the result that I received from standing in front of my husband, screaming at him at the top of my lungs into his face, that did not get me what I wanted was for him to listen to me, right? Nobody can stand there while you're screaming at them, it's just physiologically your body is going into that fight or run because that's what's happening, right? You're being threatened. So for me, yelling and screaming and reacting to my emotion was not necessarily going to be the best way forward.

And then there is what I was the expert in, distracting myself. And so if I was sad, I'd find myself stopping at the 7/11 and I'm grabbing chips and Twizzlers and all kinds of crap food that I just used to eat when I was a kid because I don't want to feel sad, I just want to keep eating and stuffing that feeling or distracting myself so now again, I have a new problem. So the other thing we might be doing is spinning. So when you have a thought, let's say, "She behaved really inappropriately", you're talking about something that happened at work, and then you start to feel angry at that person, right? And then what you do is you repeat that in your head over, "How dare she? I can't believe she did it", and you're spinning this story. Then you call up another coworker and you tell her the story, and then she's talking and anybody who'll listen you're telling this story. And each time you retell that story, you get all riled up, and that's because for every moment in time that you are thinking that thought, you are actually creating that emotion again. So if you're spinning it and repeating it over and over again, you're not feeling it.

So in order to practice feeling our emotions, what I did was I created a worksheet and you can go to www.never2late.info/emotions. And there you'll find this how to practice generating and feeling your emotions. So let's go with anxiety. Let's say the top three - I like to start with what's the top three feelings that you experience each day. And I'm going to give you an example of one of my clients who had lots of anxiety. And when you think about your own feeling, whatever it is, let's say if it is anxiety, I want you to think about what does that feel like in your body. Like, you don't say, "I am a headache" or, "I am a stomach ache". You say, "I have a headache" or, "I have a stomach ache", right?

But yet when we say anxiety, we say, "I'm anxious". Instead, I want you to go to your body and I want you to think what exactly is happening, how do you know you're having anxiety? What are the symptoms that are in your body? So I like to use words to describe how it feels like to clench, could be how you feel, or could be clenched throat, clenched fist, buzzy feeling, maybe a pulsing or an achy feeling, a pressure or a pounding. Sometimes it's a matter of temperature. Warm, or weak, limp, loose.

So what I want you to do is really slow down and I want you to think about this vibration, what is it that's happening? And then I want you also to feel it in what part of your body do you feel it? So is it your skin that's pulsing? Is there a tightness in your throat? Is there a pressure in your chest? So I had the client I wanted to talk to you who was feeling anxiety, lots of anxiety, and it was always centered around a weekly meeting that she was responsible for, and she would dread these meetings. And she would get through them every week but they were torturous for her, and as a result, she always found herself binging on chocolate around three o clock in the afternoon.

So like clockwork, Wednesday would come along, she would anticipate that she was going to feel horrible at that meeting, the meeting would happen, she would freak out inside the meeting, and then she would get out of the meeting, feel relief, and stuff her face with chocolate. So when we started asking her, when I started asking her, "So where do you experience this feeling?" And she was like, "I feel antsy, I feel like my skin is pulsing. There's this tightness" - she said, "There's a tightness in my head and my breath, I get shortness of breath, I just feel like I'm going to run out of the room."

Well, when we just keep bringing it back so that feeling "I'm going to run out of the room" is really a thought, right? So I had to keep coming back, "What did it actually feel like in your body?" And again, it was the skin pulsing, that's what it felt like for her and it seemed so painful. But when we started to really separate this feeling and actually I asked her, I said, "If I was going to give you a thousand bucks would you be willing to feel like this tightness in your head and your skin pulsing and being antsy? Maybe having a little shortness of breath?" And she was a little bit not sure she would, but finally she's yes, agreed she would be willing to experience this emotion for a short period of time for a thousand bucks.

So when she wasn't caught up in the feeling but she was observing her body, she actually was able to then start to take some deep breaths. And then she was starting to learn how to use her prefrontal cortex, which is to look at the thoughts and to observe her body in having those vibrations. Because all of those thoughts that she was having were guaranteeing that she was going to be anxious. So her thoughts were like, "I'm not supposed to be here, I'm not welcome here", you know, these thoughts that were creating all this anxiety in her body.

So, slowly she started to be able to take those breaths when she was in the meeting, she was started to practice new thoughts. "You're welcome here, you are right where you're supposed to be", but really, only by knowing that she wasn't going to die by calming that limbic system, knowing that these feelings were tolerable, was she able to slow down and then get access to the thoughts. So with practice, she was able to face this anxiety and recognize while it actually was very uncomfortable and it wasn't her first choice, nothing was really happening outside her. Like, nobody even knew she was having this anxiety. And slowly with practice, she started to prepare for the meeting, she started to create a plan, and then slowly she changed her whole attitude about that meeting. Low and behold, she gave up that afternoon binge. You know what happened? She lost 25 stubborn lifelong pounds.

So when you start this work of knowing that you want to feel your feelings, it's really helpful to recognize that we have a spectrum. The intensity of our feelings is going to have a spectrum from positive to negative, right? And a negative emotion could go from mildly irritated to terrified your husband's going to leave you, or feeling horrible about your brother's diagnosis. Then we also have the positive spectrum. Let's say your son tells you he has met the partner of his dreams and you love this person, and then you're at the wedding day, which is just amazing. So there's always going to be a spectrum, and that you can handle any part, any emotion on that spectrum.

So let's practice talking about your emotions. So you think about the top three feelings you have most days, and I like to call this as your go to feelings or like a signature feeling. So let's pick a signature emotion, and let's say for me it might be sadness. And so, I'm going to imagine words that are going to describe how it feels in my body. So it feels like my shoulders are droopy, feels like my eyes are vibrating, and my mouth is downturned. Also, it feels a little bit of tension in my stomach.

So I want you to really look at where you feel it in your body, come up with the description of it, and I want you to pretend that Dr. Spock, you know Dr. Spock? He doesn't have emotion so he doesn't know what an emotion is. So I want you to describe it to a group of Vulcans. How can you make it really describing the vibrations that are going on in your body?

So as you focus on the vibrations you feel in your body, I think it's really useful - at least I find it really useful to start self-coaching, so that if you feel uncomfortable and you want to run away, you can just say to yourself, "Hey, I'm just allowing this feeling to flow through my body. I'm not going to stop the flow. I'm going to stay here, there's nothing happening, I'm going to accompany this feeling. I'm not afraid of this feeling. I can do this. I'm not going to die." So as you go through the self-coaching and the feeling the vibrations and the describing of the vibrations, this is really the process of learning to feel your emotions.

So then you stop all that and then you take out a pen and paper and you just start writing. What was that about? How was that for you? Describe in detail what you said to your Vulcan friend, where you felt that vibration. And then you have a big name, so if that is your signature emotion of sadness, you put a big underline sadness, right? And then what happens as you start to catalogue your signature emotions, then you start to recognize them as soon as they come up. So you no longer are blaming the circumstances, but you become aware of the vibrations in your body and that all it means is that you're having a thought that is creating these vibrations.

So for me, one of my signature emotions was shame, and shame led me to feel unworthy. But once I was able to watch myself experiencing it and figured out what it was and where it was in my body, which really, I describe it as a hot flash. Then it took a lot of the sting out of it, and it made it so much easier for me to notice when it came up. And when I did, I could just say, "There's shame", and then after I knew it, I could actually see the thoughts that were underlying that feeling. "Who do you think you are, asking for something you want? How dare you? And how dare you ask. Who do you think you are?"

Anyway, a lot of clients, once we get to this point, they want to know, "How long do I need to do this for? How much time am I going to need before these feelings will go away?" And I guess I need to tell you that you should not expect that these feelings are going to go away. They're not going away as long as you're alive. And as long as you're willing to feel them though, you can actually put yourself in situations that perhaps you were too afraid to in the past because you'll realize that that emotion doesn't mean anything has gone wrong. You don't have to make that emotion mean anything about you other than you're a human being. And you don't have to make them mean anything about you.

And then you get really good at identifying the physical symptoms associated with these particular signature emotions, you're not going to need to cover them up or hide from them or push them away. And the result of that is you will stop eating emotionally, I promise. Now, we can also use this same technique to generate positive emotions. And when you have that worksheet, it explicitly explains how to do that with positive emotions because emotions can't really harm you. You don't have to be afraid of them and you don't have to buffer your feelings with overeating.

So after 60 years of avoiding the same emotions over and over, I am now asking you to look at this as a new adventure, the adventure of experiencing your emotions in your body. And with practice you can get really good at processing them, learning from them, and then using them to help you get motivated, and also having compassion for yourself because when you decide no longer will you eat your emotions, you're going to be motivated to stick to your weight loss plan. You're going to get to your goal weight. And you know what happens then? You'll find a new problem to solve.

So allowing your emotions actually gives you authority over them and then you can use them to help motivate you to stick to your weight loss goals, get to your goal weight. Wow, amazing. So don't forget to grab that worksheet, never2late.info/emotions. So I want you to remember these things and as you go about your week, I want you to think and consider you can feel your feelings, and there are benefits to processing your feelings. And it's really safe to feel your feelings because nothing has gone wrong. And the more you do it, you will create competence and confidence, and then you just get to practice it over and over again. You can take out your worksheet, keep track of those signature emotions. And then when you're ready to take on something new, let's say, a new commitment to your health, and the first temptation to eat your sadness, that will come up and then you'll know, "I'm amazing at feeling my feelings." No problem.

Then the basics of understanding our thoughts and our emotions, we are setting you up to create the results you're aiming for. Maybe it's health, maybe it's strength, maybe it's just finally losing that weight for the last time. If after completing the worksheet you have questions you would like to share or comments you'd like to make, just send them to pat@beauprecoaching.com and I will put together any answers to address your questions in the upcoming podcasts.

Okay, so I know it's never too late to lose weight, and I want you to practice feeling your emotions. And now I want to talk about my favorite things. So when we're looking at our emotions, I think it's really helpful to start using feeling words: happy, sad, proud, right? And one of the things that I have relied on in the past year is the Pixar movie, Inside Out. I love that film because it was such a good presentation of the combination of all of our feelings, how we need all of them to be successful in the world. And if you go to my kit, which is - there's actually a link in the website, there is a link in the show notes, you'll find a series of books about Inside Out that I've actually used and purchased myself.

I also found these wonderful little magnets which have our emotions on them and you can use them on your whiteboard or you can use them on your refrigerator. Because the more comfortable you are with feeling your feelings, your signature feelings, the more you can see that they're not something that takes over you but that they're just vibrations you experience in your body. And the more familiar and with ease that you talk about them, the more authority you will have over them. So grab either the Pixar movie or the books, or you can also grab the magnets on my kit and start to use them to support your practice in feeling your emotions.

So that's it for today's podcast, and next week we're going to look at creating a comprehensive weight loss plan.

Thanks for listening to this episode of It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight. If you liked what you heard and want more, head over to never2late.info/guide, to download your quick start guide to jump start your weight loss plan and begin creating an amazing life you love.

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