An Essential Component to Managing Emotional Food Cravings
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!