Ever find yourself going to the pantry when you’re stressed, bored, lonely, sad, worried, anxious, or even happy?
If so, you’re not alone. It’s frustrating, and the answer is not found in a diet plan, or with the well-intended advice to have a cup of tea instead.
“O…. I just have tea instead of cold leftover pizza and Oreo cookies… I never knew!” said no one ever.
The issue lies with our beliefs about, and response to, those emotions.
Feelings are meant to be felt. They’re not problems that need to be solved or fixed, or numbed out with food.
And they also aren’t always meant to be acted on.
There’s a lot of black and white thinking about emotions. Either we dwell on feelings and let them run our life, or we ignore or repress them and ‘soldier on’. Think “suck it up” or “feel the fear and do it anyway”.
It’s this kind of black and white thinking is a big reason why so many of us struggle with our emotions- and turn to food instead.
Instead of this binary thinking, we need to find the middle ground.
How do we do this? I’m glad you asked.
The first step is simply recognizing that feelings are real and true and that you have permission to feel the emotion. You’re having the emotion. There isn’t any denying this.
It’s not good or bad, it just is.
Repeat after me: emotions are meant to be felt, not fixed.
But, just because our feelings are real doesn’t always make them right- or something we need to act on. Many times, our feelings are based on beliefs, thoughts, unrealistic expectations, or past situations that no longer serve us.
We also need our intellect and our awareness to work alongside our emotions and intuition to take the best course of action possible. This is the optimal balance of the masculine and feminine energies in our decision-making process.
Take disappointment, for example. Maybe you’re feeling disappointed that you didn’t stick to your healthy eating plan over the holiday season or at a social function. Maybe that disappointment stems from the expectation that you were supposed to be perfect over the holiday season or that there weren’t ever going to be slip-ups and setbacks along your health journey. In this case, the disappointment stems from faulty thinking and unrealistic expectations.
But instead of simply repressing the emotion or distracting yourself from the feeling (often with social media, TV, alcohol or food), the feeling can be acknowledged and explored. Once you feel it, and you let it flow, you can work through it. Until you explore the feeling, you may never even realize you have these faulty thought patterns or perfectionistic tendencies in the first place.
Next time you’re feeling a feeling (like right now… if you’re living and breathing you’re feeling something), get curious.
Allow yourself to feel. Know that you are safe to feel.
Your emotions are telling you something. They might be pointing to some patterns or beliefs that are no longer serving you. They might be letting you know that your boundaries have been crossed. Or that something in your life needs to change. They might be calling you to make a perspective shift, or to restart (or stop) certain habits. Or, just like a cloudy day, they just might drift in and drift out for no apparent reason.
With this awareness (thank your emotions!), you can start to create the necessary changes, which will also allow you to experience emotions like peace and happiness on a more regular basis.