At the root of many eating difficulties is the inability to experience or feel our feelings. While I agree with this, I will say that most don't know how that translates or integrates into their every day lives. In addition, even if they know that feeling their feelings is “good” for them, they don’t really know or understand how doing so may help in their recovery from these eating difficulties.
I came across this image How to Feel Your Feelings by bestselling author, artist & speaker Amber Rae @hyeamberrae a few weeks ago and posted it in my No-Diet Sisterhood group and a lot of members really loved it!
In this illustration, once you’ve determined that you’re “feeling off”, take time between the following questions to move through your feelings. Notice how feeling your feelings involves going inward instead of searching for something outside of ourselves to “fix” the problem just like intuitive eating does.
What am I feeling?
Where do I feel it in my body?
If it could talk, what would it say?
What might this be teaching me?
What do I need right now?
What tiny step can I take to meet my need?
I know first hand how painful it can be to feel unpleasant feelings. I also know there are significant benefits to doing this but I didn’t always know or understand what they were. I have included three primary reasons why below and hopefully they will encourage you to try something different the next time you try to escape into unhelpful, self-destructive behaviors like restricting food, abusing alcohol, drugs, chronically "emotionally" eating, busyness, compulsive exercising, or a variety of other self-harming behaviors.
Here are three reasons why it is important to allow yourself to process and experience your true feelings.
Numbing feelings may dull happy emotions
When we habitually numb our challenging emotions, we also risk the ability to experience other feel good emotions. As humans, we're designed to feel a wide range of emotions, not just the pleasant ones. When we allow ourselves to experience uncomfortable emotions like sadness or anger, it intensifies emotions like happiness and joy even more.
Fighting the emotions blinds you
Acceptance is tough pill to swallow when you're dealing with painful emotions but without it, we are blind to seeing the possibilities the emotion has to offer us. The less we accept, the less energy and mental space we'll have to discern why the feelings surfaced in the first place! If we begin to change our mindset around unpleasant emotions and start to see them as messengers which signal something important that we need to pay attention to, the better off we'll be.
Processing emotions leads to a healthier relationship with food
Allowing ourselves to feel emotions is part of life and when we allow it, we are deepening our connection with ourselves and with our bodies. By doing this, we inadvertently strengthen our intuitive eating practice too! The more we get acquainted with what our bodies need, the more often we will likely honor them by meeting their needs. In the end, this will lead to a fuller more satisfying life and a healthier and more peaceful relationship with food and body.
The next time you're confronted with uncomfortable emotions, take a look at the How to Feel Your Feelings image I've included with this love note. In fact, download it to your phone so you can reference it whenever you need to. Doing this will help to process the emotions and help you to see what important lessons are likely hiding beneath them.
I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to respond to this love note and share how this image landed with you. Do you think this could be helpful for you?
If you're tired of battling with your weight, fed up with the cycle of yo-yo dieting, and yearning to be free from your obsessive thinking about food and your body, schedule your complimentary Embrace Anti-Diet Living Connection Session.
We’ll get clear on where you are now, what you want instead, and what might be getting in the way of your success.
I’ll also share some powerful recommendations and resources to get you started on creating a peaceful relationship with your body and food.