I wanted to share more about our emotions – why they are so important to be with, to process and to resolve. Especially as an emotional eater. Today I wanted to really do more of a deep dive into our emotions. So if you’re an emotional eater, essentially what’s happening is that you use food to cope with your emotions. I totally get it because I was there too.
Coping with Food
When we cope with our emotions we distract, avoiding or push away our emotions. We cope by eating food. When we eat food physiologically our body creates a temporary feeling of well-being. We temporarily don’t have to feel the discomfort of the emotions that are coming up. We cope with it but it doesn’t mean that emotion goes away.
The unresolved emotion is still in our nervous system. It’s still circulating. In hindsight this became an issue when I was emotionally eating. I felt really out of control around food. I would almost be in a trance like state jumping into food, not realizing that I was even hungry and I just felt so out of control. And that’s not a good place to be in. And this is something I notice with clients. They just feel out of control around food.
They’re eating and eating, and they can’t seem to stop themselves. They don’t know what’s really going on.
What’s going on emotionally
I’m going to dive more into what’s going on emotionally. If we’re using food to cope with our emotions, that means we were never taught how to really be with our emotions. We were never taught how to really sit with discomfort and how to process emotions. And we weren’t taught what emotions really are. I know this was the case for me and so many others.
In our world we don’t talk about emotions. We’re in a very go, go, go society. We are in survival mode. We’re just moving forward. Now, whenever you have an emotion you were probably taught to distract from it or push it aside. There wasn’t enough time to be with that emotion. Perhaps your parents and caregivers didn’t know how to be with emotions. For example if someone is sad a likely response might be “look on the bright side” which invalidates the emotion.
So what are emotions?
Emotions are a physiological response in our body. So whenever we interact with life, we respond to life and we have a reaction to life. We might feel something is pleasant and something’s uncomfortable or something hurt us. Our emotions tell us what is really going on in our reality.
They are a chemical reaction and they are a messenger. They’re meant to be released in our body for us to hear the message they have. When we feel uncomfortable and we sit and be with that emotion without judgment and allow it to process through our body, we hear whatever message it had for us. Maybe you were in a situation that didn’t feel right for us, maybe that friend didn’t make us feel good. We can go deeper into what’s going on.
And if we allow the space and we really be with that emotion and let it move through our body, then we come to a place of clarity. So our nervous system goes from feeling “X” emotion, processes and goes back to this neutral space. From here we can then act and take steps with the information we got from the emotion. But what happens in our lives and what we’ve been taught from a really young age is that we don’t have time to do that or it’s just too uncomfortable.
When we don’t process and resolve our emotions
You’ve probably seen this with a mom and her child feeling sad or upset and it makes her feel uncomfortable. So she wants to stop the child from feeling uncomfortable because she’s uncomfortable. So the child never learns to be with that emotion because the mom can’t even be with it. So we lose contact with this data we have in our bodies. These emotions tell us information. They tell us something deep about ourselves and when we distract with food, we lose touch with that. We then move through life thinking that we know the right direction or thinking we know the right way to go following others because we assume it’s the right thing.
But we don’t check in with ourselves or we distract from that emotion. Especially if it’s uncomfortable, we’re going to keep eating and eating or if a situation triggers something in us.
So our emotions are amazing and important and we really need to give them respect. The easiest thing would be if we were taught how to really be with our emotions and feel them. Let me expand on that…
What I mean with feeling and processing through our emotions is that we are able to understand what our emotions are. They’re giving us messages and then we’re able to fully be with the sensations in our body and process them in our body. The moment we have resistance or judgment, we cut off the emotion and we stop from really feeling and moving through it and hearing the message. That’s why it keeps repeating and repeating and repeating. And we don’t get resolution. When we are able to cultivate presence and focus on our emotions, we’re able to hear them.
But again, in our society, we’re so distracted and go, go going that we don’t even know where to begin with that. So when I work with clients, we start off really simply we start off with journaling and just we slowly build this up where we’re journaling and moving into the emotions. But sometimes because we’ve built up so much resistance in our own lives, we might need support and help to go deeper.
What I do with clients are somatic somatic meditations, and so they go deeper into the sensations of the body. I’m there to support and create a container for clients so that they can learn how to do that. And this is not super easy. This requires you to be ready with a curiosity, to be ready to really be with your emotions and not to try to get rid of them or to get rid of whatever is going on, but to really work through them, to get to resolution.
Because the more we can be with our emotions and be nonjudgmental about the process, the more we’re able to actually feel and process and get to the resolution. So we focus on the emotion. We give it space. We’re curious about it. And I always liken this to like a small child. We want to be very gentle and compassionate and curious about whatever emotions going on. Once we’re able to genuinely be there and have space for the emotion, it allows it to process through the body.
And then we can start hearing the messages and then it comes to a completion and a resolution and we can hear what needs to change or what information it had for us. That’s where we really get into the root of the emotion. We are able to really take the gift from it, take the information from it that we needed personally. So this is an amazing process. I love doing this with clients and I do this on myself. And it has been the deepest work. It allows you to have compassion for yourself, give yourself space to be.
What we desire…
And this is where you create that true self love. You’re able to be with yourself through anything, any emotion, any obstacle in your life. And this is what should ideally happen when we’re children. What we really desire and want from our parents is for them to unconditionally love us and be with us through the good, the bad, the uncomfortable, the happy, the sad emotions and experiences of our lives and to really deeply understand us. Most of us aren’t lucky like that.
And so we have this opportunity now to go deeper and to start giving that to ourselves. And if we’re able to give it to ourselves, we can give it to our children, partners, friends and the world. So this is amazing work. And if you’re ready to dive in deeper, please reach out. I’d love to chat with you as this is a key component in my program “The Emotional Eating Evolution”.
And even if you have any questions about this process or you’re curious, please let me know in the comments.
Certified Holistic Nutritionist + Emotional Eating Expert