Are you Eating your Emotions?

Posted by Holly Stokes on March 27th, 2010

“I’ve been eating to stuff my emotions,” said one of my clients. That moment of awareness led our little group into a more lengthy discussion, and inspired a chapter in my book.  From our class discussion, here’s  a bit of insight and a preview to my book, Train your Brain to Slim your Body for Lasting Weight Loss Success.

If you have found yourself eating to help you stuff your emotions, you’ll find this exercise useful in beginning to unravel the knots of emotions, and get to a place of feeling more neutral.

When I first started working with therapy groups, we would often start off our day by doing a “feelings check,” in which we would go around the circle and each person would say what they were feeling that day.  I dreaded feelings checks, I never really knew what to say, and so I would always find the publicly acceptable answer and say something like, “I feel happy” or “I feel hopeful today, ”  something that was lame, not entirely untrue, but didn’t really show my true emotions.

The truth was, I didn’t know what I felt, I had learned to stuff my emotions at any early age. In fact, I think emotions were really strong for me, and I even remembered thinking to myself, “If only God would take away my emotions – then I could be happy.” A little bit of irony in that.  After I muddled my way through a bunch of feelings checks, I realized that it was hard for me to identify emotions because I didn’t feel just one!

I felt a whole bunch of them at the same time and knotted up together. I can feel hopeful and yet disturbed and excited all at the same time, and even add on a side of worry for good measure.

Maybe you’ve found yourself tied up in knots with emotions. Here’s some of my strategies for unraveling the knots, making sense of them ,  and putting them in their place.

The first question to ask yourself is, “What am I feeling?”

If you’ve noticed a difficulty with identifying what you feel, you can also use some cues that speak to your unconscious mind and the creative mind using this exercise:

  • Step 1: Imagine that you could pull your emotions out of you and hold it in a ball in font of you,  and notice, what colors are in it?
  • Step 2: Imagine lining up the colors as if they are streamers, and then one by one, identify what emotion each color represents.
  • Maybe purple represents calm, and red represents passion, there are no wrong answers in how your mind represents color. Identify each emotion.
  • Just by going through this process, it will allow you to understand the layers of emotions connected from any situation. Try it out on a past situation that was difficult.

Just by identifying what you feel, it can give you a sense of power through awareness. The next part is to be able to cope with the emotions.