Last week, I shared why calling a friend when you’re lonely or taking a bath when you want to reward yourself with food does not work to stop emotional eating.
You don’t eat because of not talking to your friend or not having a bath. As Dr. Susan David says in her brilliant book, Emotional Agility, “your emotions are data, not directives.”
One of the biggest challenges and gifts in transforming our story, the root of why people fall off track with eating, is we learn how to benefit from our emotions.
When we have emotional agility, we stop emotional eating. And, we create deeper relationships, become even more trailblazing and successful leaders, and are able to gracefully handle real life with less conflict and drama. #freedom
So, what are our emotions saying? Because all we hear are “these brownies are deeeelicious!”
To begin to decode our emotions, it’s helpful to know, like a Cadbury egg with its hard shell and gooey middle, what we often feel first, like anger or frustration, is a protective emotion.
These emotions protect our soft inside. Our soft side isn’t soft because it’s weak. It’s soft because softness creates openness. And we need to be open to hear our needs and wants (otherwise known as goals).
Underneath anger is often an unmet need for fairness around our own boundaries or justice in our communities. Under resentment is often the truth that we want our turn. When we acknowledge our truths, we must open back up to the world and take risks.
To be physically and emotionally hungry is to be vulnerable. As Dr. Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” To have physical hunger or to acknowledge our emotional hunger, is to choose to be open to the daring risk of being fully satisfied.
All the while being aware of the inherent risks like bacteria and viruses that cause food poisoning. Or failure and disappointment that can sting emotionally.
Yet the body has built-in resilience like strong stomach acid and immunity to protect us. And we are more resilient and self-trusting than we‘ve been conditioned to believe. I could write a whole other post on how self-help books have infantilized us!
Nature is resilient, creative and strong. And, remembering our nature is part of this cycle is the obstacle and the path to ending our battle with food.
A fun tool to stop emotional eating
To start to use your emotions as data, when you’re feeling overwhelmed or during a transition time when so many feelings come up (e.g., work to home), one of the fun tools I give clients is to make a playlist of four songs.
Pick three songs that match your emotions and enable you to embrace them. And then your fourth song reminds you of you at your best. What we embrace, dissolves (and what we resist, persists). We want to dissolve those protective emotions to get to our truth.
After your playlist, ask yourself, “what do I need?”
In the beginning, it’s important to sit with the question and create the space for insight to find you. It will, if you are open.