Our emotions are incredibly powerful – they are so innate and instinctual, reactions to our environment and thoughts that we’ve developed as self-preservation mechanisms right from our caveman days. They told us to run in the presence of wild animals, to find food when we experience hunger and to chase dreams to find happiness.
Our emotions are and have always been signals into our life that can help us if we interpret them correctly.
Unfortunately, most of us try to shut ourselves off from our emotions.
We are too tired.
We are too scared.
We may even be quite clueless, at a loss to understand what emotions mean.
It’s not that easy to close ourselves off though. Even though we might avoid trying to think about them, they are always there at the back of our minds making us feel strangely upset, disconnected or sad.
And so we eat to feel better, we eat to numb our minds and we eat to forget our feelings.
Avoiding our emotions almost certainly causes disordered behavior as a response – some become morose or sad, others become aggressive and brash, a lot of us procrastinate and ruminate and some of us eat.
To stop this entire emotion avoidance cycle then, it makes sense that we need to face our emotions head on.
This is hard for many of us because we’ve been taught that feeling emotions is weak. We’ve been told to ignore how we feel and live life in a hardy way. For many of us, we’ve never been taught how to deal with emotions effectively – it’s only for sissies is the common misconception.
To stop emotional bingeing though, it’s not necessary to go far too deep into dealing with our emotions. Just the first step of accepting our emotions is good enough to solve half the problem.
Accepting our emotions means that:
- We acknowledge that something is not right, that we are sad or angry or frustrated or upset.
- We accept this feeling without any judgement and without any rationalization. It doesn’t matter why we feel this way, just that we do.
- We allow ourselves to fully experience the emotions wholeheartedly.
Try the exercise below to start fulling accepting your emotions. Give yourself a chance to stop eating emotionally (because diets don’t work anyway, do they?)
Step by step exercise:
- That emotions you’ve been trying to push away, label it – is it anger, sadness, frustration?
- Stand in front of the mirror and take a deep breath.
- Look into your eyes and say out loud, “ I am (emotion)” . Replace (emotion) with the feeling you identified in step 1. For example, “I am sad”.
- Repeat it until it sinks in. Take a deep breath to help you accept it.
- Once you repeat it 3-4 times, let go for the day. Try again tomorrow. Don’t force it in. Some may feel a wave of emotion wash over them and for some, their mind just goes blank. There is no one correct response. Just do the exercise and let it go.
P.S.: I know this is scary and that you may feel like you’re opening Pandora’s box but I want to assure you that you’ll feel a great sense of relief at the end of the exercise. Yes, you may feel overwhelming emotions but now there isn’t any pressure to hide from them anymore. And THAT’s what stops eating our emotions.
Let me know in the comments how this made you feel. Sending hugs your way!