Understanding and Releasing Emotions Driving Your Emotional Cravings

Understanding and Releasing Emotions Driving Your Emotional Food Cravings 

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Becoming emotionally aware is a process. If you have been avoiding uncomfortable emotions for a long time, it will take dedicated time and an internal commitment to healing to become emotionally aware. It is absolutely worth the hard work to get to the other side!

Imagine living in a space where you are not ruled by your emotions and you have the ability to make a choice on how to respond to them. Imagine not living in reactivity to—or avoidance of—your emotions. Imagine instead, living in a space of empowerment and confidence with yourself as well as with food.

When I first learned about mindfulness and how to connect to present moment awareness, it impacted me in a BIG way. I tend towards anxiety and have had several stress related health struggles. When I discovered how much of the anxiety I experienced was self-created due to my over-connection with my anxiety-provoking thoughts I was shocked. Up until this awareness, I believed that because I thought it, it must be, or at least could be true! 

Through mindfulness and the awareness of connecting to the present moment, I learned that I could choose to respond to thoughts and the emotions they create in a different way. When I began focusing on learning to become aware of my thoughts and if possible, change my thoughts (or at least change my response to my thoughts), my whole life changed for the better.

Delving deeper into the inner workings of my mind through mindfulness, I discovered that many of the emotions I was unconsciously avoiding were self-created from believing the negative thoughts. Yikes! There are some emotions that we experience that are caused by our own thoughts and other emotions caused by legitimate external circumstances. Being able to recognize the difference and make a choice on how to respond is where your power lies.

Within the process of becoming mindfully aware, you learn to work with the Pause when you find yourself attempting to distract yourself away from an emotion. You then can move into a space of Reflection: why is it there? In the space of Reflection you can begin to discern the difference: is the emotion self-created or not? Is the emotion a response to a thought or a true potential problem? Is there something you can do about this thought or emotion? Once you Reflect and discern the why behind and driving your emotional experience, you can make a choice about how to respond.

Your choice might be to take action, especially if the emotion has been created by an external influence. If the feeling is internally created by a negative thought pattern or if you have attempted to manage or cope with the feeling to no avail, you can choose to Release it, to let it go.

Letting the emotion go is such a powerful aspect of emotional awareness because it creates a deeper sense of self-control and self-respect. You get to choose. While this may feel difficult at first, it is a practice. When you mind attempts to focus on the emotion, you can have a grounding statement to say to yourself, such as “In this moment I choose to let this thought go.” Or you might visualize the thoughts and emotions as leaves floating down a river, or as clouds floating by in the sky.

When you Release an emotion, such as worry, you Release the discomfort this emotion creates internally. Worry can create an internal experience of increased heart rate, agitation, fear of what may go wrong with no supported evidence that it may actually happen. This state of mental discomfort can trigger further internal and physical discomfort such as muscular tension, nail biting and other physical harm.

These internal tensions created by the emotion can be linked to many other physical ailments including neck, shoulder and back pain, stomach upset, IBS, TMJ, difficulty sleeping, inability to concentrate and fatigue (just to name a few). The action of Releasing the emotion, which may seem simple but is definitely NOT easy, can completely shift your internal experience. The process of Releasing is a practice and takes time, effort and dedication to the practice.

The process of Releasing an emotion invites internal freedom like no other because YOU get to choose. When you are Releasing, you are not avoiding your feelings, and you are not just trying to cope with them—but you are allowing yourself to understand them and use them to enhance your life. Through emotional awareness and Releasing unfounded discomfort, you build Inner Strength, confidence and empowerment.

This nonjudgmental approach creates freedom as you can choose your thoughts, and therefore choose how to respond to them. This freedom and awareness inevitably creates more acceptance of emotions, self-compassion and self-awareness.

As you continue to practice the three steps to managing emotional food cravings, Pause, Reflect, Release, you will find how this formula can enhance many areas of your life. When you begin to practice, let me know how it works for you! I’d love to hear your experience and I am here to support you along your path to healing, self-acceptance and self-compassion.

Emotional Reflection for Emotional Eating

Emotional Reflection:
An Essential Component to Managing Emotional Food Cravings

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Allowing time and energy to reflect on the messages from your emotions begins to create more emotional awareness and freedom from emotional eating. Emotional eating is most often driven by uncomfortable emotions and an attempt to avoid or suppress them. When you find that you are in a space of avoidance and have learned to practice the Pause (check out the previous blog) as a method to begin to make peace with food, you can shift into a space of internal reflection.

When you Reflect on your emotions, you open yourself to a powerful recognition of your internal world, your experience of—and response to—your life. For many, the shadow side, or darker side of the emotional world can be frightening. Uncomfortable emotions are often viewed as “bad” and you may fear that you will get stuck in those uncomfortable emotions. It limits your ability to fully know yourself and live in a truly present manner in life without awareness of all of your emotions.

Emotions are important information about your experience of the present moment. They show up as a response to your experiences and are essential to understanding yourself and the depths of your being. While the fear exists that you may get “stuck” in an uncomfortable emotional space, the opposite is actually the truth. When you are experiencing an uncomfortable emotion, it is for a reason.

When you take time to Reflect on your emotions and connect with and understand the why behind them, you can make a choice as to how to respond. If you get stuck in a space of avoidance, you perpetuate the discomfort, and this leads to the desire to continuously numb, whether with food, alcohol, distraction, projecting your discomfort onto others or otherwise.

When you numb consistently, this creates the feeling of being stuck as you never connect with the original emotions and do not allow yourself the opportunity to derive the information your emotions will offer you. This creates essentially a backlog of old, uncomfortable emotions which can be overwhelming and painful.

Becoming comfortable Reflecting on your emotions begins with mindfulness. When you become mindfully engaged with the present moment you can learn to witness your emotions. In the space of the witness, you become a silent observer of your emotions, so rather than being the feeler of your feelings, you are the observer of them.

The internal witness, or silent observer perspective creates an opening to awareness. From the space of awareness you have an opportunity to make a choice. The intention of becoming a witness is not to escape, but to understand and create comfort internally with whatever is true for you in this moment.

You are not tuning into the internal witness in order to not feel your feelings. The opposite is true. You tune into the internal witness to become more and more comfortable with feeling your feelings. This process offers a supportive internal space and creates an opportunity to react to your emotions in a healthy way.

When you witness and Reflect on your emotions, you become deeply aware of them and derive the information they provide you. During the process of Reflection you might choose to just be with your emotion, or you might choose to do something proactive with it, such as write the emotion down. You might choose to call a friend or share it with a loved one. You can take time to ponder the emotion and journal about what it feels like internally to have this emotion. You can journal about why it is there and what information the emotion is trying to communicate with you.

Once you are in touch with the why behind the emotion, you can make a choice on how to respond. Is anger there because you are not ok with the way someone spoke to you or treated you? Can you tell them? Can you journal about it? If you are anxious, do you have too much on your to-do list? Are there too many pressures in your life at this time? What can you do about that?

If you are lonely, can you reach out to someone you care about? Can you connect with a friend, loved one or neighbor? If you are happy, why? What is offering you this internal experience right now? How can you savor it without clinging to it?

Making a choice about how to respond to your emotions creates action, and action naturally moves you forward. When you move forward you are building emotional awareness leading to acceptance, and a deeper inner wisdom. Learning to not judge your emotions, but to be aware will move you further forward on your journey to making peace with food.

The next time you find yourself in a space of mindless eating, stress eating, emotional eating, or numbing your internal experience of your emotions in any way, first offer yourself the time to Pause. Once you have given yourself the needed time within the Pause, move into this powerful phase of emotional Reflection. In this space where you are Reflecting on your emotions, there is no room for judgement, just awareness. Once you know the why, you can choose how to respond to the emotion, creating a sense of empowerment, confidence and Inner Strength.

Feeling empowered, emotionally aware, confident and strong is how most of us want to feel. Try building your emotional awareness with mindful Reflection and notice the impact. As you begin to incorporate these elements, let me know how they work for you!

Pause Before Eating to Integrate Mindful and Intuitive Eating

How to Pause and Listen to Your Body Along Your Path to Making Peace with Food

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Learning to pause and listen to your body is one of the most profound ways to heal your relationship with food. Connecting with the present moment by being mindful and intuitively aware of your body is healing. We often spend a good bit of time lost in thought, mindlessly rushing from one aspect of the day to the next which often results in mindlessly eating.

When was the last time you found yourself looking in the cabinet and yet you weren’t really hungry or finishing a bag of chips and wondering how you got there in the first place? These things happen, and when you struggle with emotional and stress eating, it can become a mindless action used to avoid or suppress emotions and stress. When you engage in mindless eating to ease stress or numb out emotions it may lead to forming habit pattern of mindless eating.

This is where learning to Pause and check in with your body and mind can be such a powerful action to take along your path to making peace with food. When you Pause, you begin to engage with the present moment as it is right now. When you Pause, you are respecting your body, your needs and tuning into your intuition.

Within the space of the Pause, you create an opportunity to make a choice. This is where the power lies when you become mindfully engaged with the present moment. In the present moment you can check in with how stress or your emotions are impacting your mind, your body, your energy, your mood and your choices. When truly present, you can ask yourself how you want to feel and make choices based on this—rather than on avoidance and fear of feeling your feelings.

If you have been reading here for some time, you most likely already know the definition of mindfulness. However, I am going to repeat it, because it is so useful to have the reminder. Mindfulness is paying attention from moment to moment with nonjudgmental awareness. The non-judgment part is often one of the biggest challenges. Our minds judge by nature and create conditions that can feel pressured or uncomfortable.

When you engage with the Pause in the moment of a craving or when you catch yourself mindlessly eating or avoiding emotions and stress, you are essentially practicing mindfulness. When you use the moment of Pause and make a different choice based on how you want to feel, you are growing your mindfulness muscles (so to speak) to create more strength, awareness and comfort internally.

Now that you have allowed yourself to Pause, you can create and build self-awareness. Taking time to ask yourself, “What is happening right now?” “Why am I stressed?” “Why is this emotion I seem to want to avoid through food here in the first place?” “Is there another choice I can make in this moment?” These questions lead to self-awareness, growth and the opportunity to heal your relationship with food and with yourself.

When you allow yourself to be curious about your emotions and behaviors you create the perspective of non-judgment. You can be kind and compassionate to yourself, which will be far more tolerated internally than being mean and judgmental towards yourself! When you become overly judgmental towards yourself, you are more likely to emotionally eat, regress and feel shameful or like a failure. When you are kind to yourself you are more likely to grow, to push through the challenges and create the change you want.

Once you have examined the pause in a mindful manner, you have an opportunity to make a choice. What else can you do in this moment? Here you might opt to set a timer for 5 minutes and have a glass of water. You might choose to practice deep breathing or remove yourself from the kitchen, food item, cabinets, whatever is causing the mindless eating and cravings.

If you struggle with emotional eating, you may struggle to connect to your intuition. You may feel a sense of being disconnected from your body and your gut feelings. When you take the time to Pause, and examine the space within the pause, you will get back in touch and connect with your intuition and inner knowing.

When you Pause you can observe what is happening internally. Is there something your intuition is trying to communicate to you? Be curious and open to listening to your inner wisdom. Learn to become accepting of your emotions, internal experiences and inner guidance. Learn to listen and you might be surprise by what you “hear.”

Try this practice the next time you are experiencing a craving or you find that you are mindlessly eating/grazing/staring at the fridge: take time to Pause. As you Pause, look within and tune into your intuition. Ask yourself what you are truly needing and see if you can offer that to yourself within that very moment. Your body and mind are intimately interconnected and practicing this Pause will encourage and strengthen this internal connection.