I want to start off today by sincerely thanking all of you who have written to me with words of love, strength, and support. There have been times when I have been very low and one of your emails has meant the difference between chin up or down.
So the task of blogging this very personal business from the midst of a complicated war continues to be basically impossible. I keep thinking that things will get better and tomorrow I can return to a post on The 10 Best Uses for Chickpea Flour. But then something worse happens here – something that even yesterday was unthinkable – and I can’t even remember how to spell “chickpea flour”, let alone how to use it.
Things became personal for me last week with an event a friend said “virtually wiped out your seven degrees of separation”. At one point, as I listened to the unbearable agony of someone dear, my heart hurt so much that I thought I was having a heart attack. I wanted a pair of scissors with which to pry the damn thing out of my chest in order to get some relief!
That experience made me remember something that I have wanted to tell you. I have been trying to write a series for the blog on Emotional Eating, as it is probably THE one big main reason that people fail at long-term weight control. We can stay on top of our food intake when things are going smoothly, but throw in overwhelm, stress, anger, crisis, fear, worry, loss, pain, etc and we go face first into the Ben and Jerry’s.
Overcoming Emotional Eating is something I teach my clients in a 4-month program. It is vitally important for long-term weight management, but there are several steps and it requires patience and practice. But as I contemplated a heart-ectomy the other day, I realized there is a bottom line I could share with you.
I am, and always have been, super sensitive and empathetic. I feel every little pea under the mattress as though it is a boulder of unbearably tragic proportions. I have also come to recognize that many people who struggle with Emotional Eating are similarly blessed in the super sensitive feelings department. WE FEEL and we feel deeply. And because we feel so deeply, we often feel the deep need to ESCAPE the feelings.
To put it bluntly, we feel that we will DIE if we experience our unpleasant feelings!! Oh the drama!
We think we have to eat something in order to escape our feelings. (Not unlike others feel the need to drink, gamble, use drugs, shop, self-harm… to each his own escape!)
What I want you to understand and learn at the very most basic level is that your feelings will not kill you and if you just stop to feel them, they will pass.
You do not need to run away, numb yourself, distract yourself, stuff your face, have the drink… You can just FEEL.
That’s right, you just sit there feeling your feelings. It’s not fun, I’m not going to lie. Your mind monkeys will raise holy hell “We have to get out of here!!! We are going to DIE from grief!! Run away! Find some cookies! Only Jack Daniels can save us!” (Hoosier mind monkeys live here). There will be all sorts of calamity predictions clanging.
But all you have to do is sit there and breathe and feel.
You might need to first correctly identify the feelings. On Saturday, as I felt unbearable pain listening to a family begging G-d for the return of their child, I closed my eyes and asked “What is the feeling?” Pain, Sorrow, Worry, and then the biggie, what if it were MY son? OK, now we are getting somewhere. Those first three are valid feelings. I can feel them. They suck but they won’t pull me under. No, it’s that third, that monkey called Anxiety Projection that was truly unseating me. I do not need to entertain those thoughts. I can choose.
Feel your feelings. Understand your feelings. They will not drown you if you can really reach in and ask “what’s the feeling here?” and see clearly what belongs to you and what does not.
The best news of all is that when you stop trying to run away from your feelings, not only does Emotional Eating go away, but you actually get to be happier, less freaked out by everything, less reactionary, and mentally stronger over all.
And for those of us whose mission is to help others, you really cannot help anyone else when you have pushed back or run away from your own emotions. Only from a place of being free to feel and express your feelings can you truly help others deal with theirs.
Don’t run away from the light.
The only way out is through.
You can do it.
You are stronger than you think you are.
I believe in you.