I don’t know about you guys, but when it comes to things like emotions, I’m a bit of a control freak. I’m not necessarily afraid of feeling things (’cause that’s just life), but I am known to prefer to keep a relatively tight reign. Problem is, if there’s anything I’ve learned in the process of figuring out my emotional eating stuff, emotions aren’t realistically “controlled,” and telling myself that they should be only exacerbates the problem behaviors.
Emotions can be very informative and while we might be able to control our reactions to emotions, attempting to control the comings and goings of certain ones is often incredibly difficult (or impossible). The strong desire to control emotions, push them away or forget about them is basically what has in the past driven many of my unwanted eating behaviors and negative body thoughts. At least I could attempt to be in charge of those things, right? =)
Last week I was having one of those days where there was some stuff going on for me and I realized that they weren’t things I could control, fix or change and it got me thinking: two years ago, I would probably have been in this state of total discomfort, overeating to try and temporarily make it all go away. The more compulsively I tried to control feelings, the more I would compulsively eat!
This time, I didn’t even want to try to push it away or cover it up with emotional eating and when I realized that, I wondered (sort of astonished and proud) how I had gotten to this point? I will say that it takes practice and patience (and maybe some talking to myself here and there).
Something I like to remember that I learned in a meditation talk once is that we aren’t our emotions. We can have them, but we don’t have to become them. I can feel sad, but also trust that the feelings of sadness do not define me and like a cloud passing, the feeling will eventually as well.
The difficult thing then is, how to tolerate an emotion that wants to stick around for a little while. I have found that the less I freak out about feeling strong emotions, the less likely it turns into overeating and other unwanted behaviors that I might otherwise be inclined to do. I know this isn’t easy, but I think a helpful thing to keep in mind.
I think I am sometimes afraid that if I just allow myself to feel, it will just be too much, and that I will in turn feel like “too much.” However, if I remember the idea that my emotions can’t define me and the passing cloud image, it feels a little less scary.
How are you guys with handling emotions? Control freak, or able to deal? Do you think it effects your eating and body stuff too? —Morgan