Last week, I wrote about how futile it is to try to fill your emotional needs with food (you can read it here), and yet it is something that many of us struggle with on a regular basis.
I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself standing in front of my fridge or my pantry looking for something to take the edge off.
Or, recognizing midway through a package of chocolate chips that I am not even enjoying the experience—I’m just shoveling food into my mouth.
Figuring out how to stop eating your feelings is a process. It begins with awareness and then moves to action and it is something that must be practiced over and over again.
I’m not saying this because I want you to know how *hard* it is to stop emotional eating. I’m saying this because I don’t want you to beat yourself up if it isn’t *easy* for you.
As you may know, I love journaling—it’s such a great tool to increase self-awareness and begin to understand why we do the crazy-f*cking things we do.
I want to share a method of journaling that will help you tap into the emotions that are driving your behaviors…specifically your emotional/binge eating behaviors.
You have a journal, right? If not, I highly suggest that you get one. Choose an extra pretty or quirky one that calls to you to be used…one that you want to want to write in.
Here is the process:
As soon as you notice that you are about to mindlessly consume food, or are in the midst of mindlessly consuming food …you STOP and make a deliberate decision to deal with your feelings.
You put the food down and grab your journal.
You work through your feelings in writing rather than trying to stuff them.
One of my favorite journaling techniques is to alternate between rational and emotional writing. Our rational mind and our emotional mind see things very differently. When we are able to observe them both we tap into a state known as “Wise Mind”.
Wise mind is the bridge between the rational and emotional and it allows to make decisions based on both frames of mind.
Okay, here is the journaling technique I’d like for you to try:
Example: Today I did a 40-minute presentation at the monthly staff meeting on the results/impact of our social media marketing in the first quarter. When I was finished, Elizabeth thanked me and then commented that some of my charts were difficult to read and understand. She asked me to re-do two of the charts after the meeting and email them to the rest of the staff.
EMOTIONAL: And then, let the feelings flow! Write about your shame, your anger, your fears, and your sadness. Do not hold back, censor, or worry that someone reading this might think you are a petty, little bitch. This is the time to embrace your petty, inner bitch!!
Example: Embarrassing! Why did Elizabeth feel the need to call me out like that in front of everyone? She could have talked to me privately after the meeting and spared me the humiliation. It took all of my self-control not to breakdown in tears.
It is especially upsetting that Tara witnessed my public shaming. Tara would love to see me fail. In fact, she would love to see my ass fired!
God, I worked really hard putting that presentation together. I mean, I put tons of non-work hours into it as well as paid hours and practiced my delivery like 30 million times.
I’m pissed off that Elizabeth couldn’t find in her cold, cold heart to say something complimentary. She is the least supportive boss that I have ever had. Actually, she is just a bad boss in general. She has no diplomacy, no tact, and no clue that employee morale sucks.
I don’t even want to go into work tomorrow. Everyone will be looking at me with pity or disrespect. Crap. I’m going to hide in my office with the blinds pulled.
Then put the journal aside. You will probably feel a lot calmer at this point, having told your rational version of the story and then allowing yourself an emotional rant.
Later—5 minutes later, an hour later, the next day—pick your journal back up. Re-read what you wrote and notice how the facts don’t necessarily support the emotional response.
Your emotional response isn’t just based on what happened--it’s based on your history, all those times in the past when those feelings of shame and anger were triggered.
Just notice this and reflect on how the situation and the emotional response are a bit of a mismatch. Try to find your wise mind state that allows you to see the validity of both your rational response and your emotional response.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
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