DO the Feeling

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By Karen Ball, M.Ed, Coach and Licensed Mental Health Counselor
By Karen Ball, M.Ed, Coach and Licensed Mental Health Counselor

 I would find myself going to the cupboard, the one that had the good snacks, and giving very careful thought to exactly what I wanted to put in my mouth.   I was looking for just the right thing that would satisfy the craving.  The craving was not from a growling stomach, but from my inside my head and only chocolate, pizza or a doughnut would really do the trick.   By “do the trick” I mean fill in the boredom, give me the treat I deserved, stop my worries or fill up my life.   Of course that kind of emotional eating leads to gaining weight,  feeling like a failure, being on a diet, and  then over eating to make up for feeling deprived.  A vicious cycle that left me feeling defeated and believing that while I could be successful in so many areas of my life, I could not lose weight. I believed that I did not have the self-discipline to lose weight.   I believed I was just large and always would be.

To lose weight and keep it off one thing that I had to do was to stop “fog” eating when I was not hungry. As I ate less I began to notice my feelings. I barely knew what my feelings were, since I had grown up in a family where we did not having feelings.   We had stiff upper lips and “gutted it out”. The family rules were no whining, crying or getting too emotional.  My family did not express feelings, we ate them.   I did not have to deal with intense emotions if I just kept them inside and put food on top of them.   With that kind of family training I was often judging my feelings, arguing with them, or finding creative ways to avoid them.

I had a lot to learn about emotions.  I had a master’s in counseling.  That was a safe way to figure out other people’s feelings and some of my own.  I learned that emotions are generated from the thoughts that we are thinking.  Feelings of sadness, joy, guilt, or anger are a vibration or signal that my body that has something to tell me.  I should listen up.  Experiencing emotions does not mean acting on them.  I can tell someone else how I am feeling rather than eat to stuff the feelings down.  Fighting to keep feelings inside or arguing about whether a feeling is valid increases the feeling’s intensity.  I learned that ignoring my feelings sends them out of my heart to find expression in physical symptoms so they can finally get my full attention. 

I had to learn to “Do the Feelings” After all the books, classes, seminars I had to lean in and experience the feelings.  .  Really “doing” the feelings felt weird and scared me, but the result was wonderful. The first thing was just noticing feelings and naming them when they showed up. I realized I could experience them as an adult, not as a little girl who didn’t know how to sort them out.   I could take risks, be vulnerable and tell someone my feelings were hurt and what might make that better.   Rather than being bored and eating in response, I could experience being scared and awkward and try some new things that I had always wanted to do.   I could treat myself kindly and do something other than eat to give my body attention.   I learned that feelings are a great source of energy that can spark being assertive, taking on a challenge or just being fully present in the moment.

If you stop eating when you are no longer physically hungry, emotions do show up.  The feelings that show up tend to be the ones we like to avoid like anger, loneliness or fear.  Do you want help figuring out what to do with emotions other than feeding them? The Victorious Living Coaching Groups and Individual Weight Loss Coaching are both offered to help smart women, who are willing to do the work on the inside to make a permanent difference in how they look on the outside.   If you’re interested in losing weight and keeping it off, contact me for more information about the next Victorious Living Coaching Group or individual coaching. or 206-9547822.

Crave Change, LLC