Trusting the Process
“What if I fail again? I’ve tried so many diets and I always gain the weight back. Am I a hopeless case?” some of my clients ask.
NO, they are not and you are not! We are all on a healing journey, we all have lessons to learn, obstacles to overcome, heal old wounds and recreate what was not given to us.
The work around ‘emotional eating’ is to create an inner reservoir of self-love, which is yours alone, not dependent on other people or external factors. It takes time to fill it slowly but once you learn to nurture yourself well you can’t unlearn it. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to look inward and fill yourself up with your own love and then share this love with the world around you. If this sounds too esoteric for you, let me give you some practical examples of what loving yourself could look like:
Let’s say you overeat and start beating yourself up: “I can’t believe I just did that. I know better. Stupid me. I feel so uncomfortable.” The loving way of helping yourself out in that moment would be to say to yourself: “Oh well, I just ate a lot and wasn’t even hungry. I wonder what’s really going on? I know I have been anxious about that presentation at work. Ahhh… that’s probably why. Oh well, I love myself and will plan for a lighter meal later on. May be I’ll call a friend or write in my journal.” Done, end of story, no guilt necessary… just kindness and compassion for yourself.
Self-Compassion Exercise: Each night before you go to bed, write down three things you are grateful for and three things you are proud of. We all do many things well every day and take them for granted. Once you start acknowledging your strengths and accomplishments your sense of wellbeing will shift. Show yourself some love. Wish yourself well.
Getting comfortable with discomfort is an invaluable tool for finding peace with food and emotional eating patterns. If you are like me I wasn’t taught to sit with (or allow) painful emotions, feel my feelings and let them run through me. During my work with clients I encourage them to embrace discomfort and “lean into” it as Buddhist philosophy suggests. “Leaning in” means not running away from painful emotions and discovering that: “Feelings don’t kill us.” as a client so wisely remarked during a group session. “Leaning in” means being curious about the messages our feelings may convey. Leaning in means learning to label an emotion such as: “I am scared. I feel shaky in my belly area. My heart is racing.” Describing the physical sensations that go along with our emotions is also critical. Take your time to practice labeling your feelings and physical sensations and learn to become a loving non-judgmental observer. This will take the “sting” out of the experience.
Self-Compassion Exercise: Next time you are anxious, upset or stressed and feel like eating to cope and take the edge off, sit for a few minutes and pause. Close your eyes and put your hands over your heart. Take seven deep gentle breaths in and out. Welcome the feeling and let it be there. Give it a name, label it and describe where you are feeling the sensation in your body. In my experience the intensity of the emotion diminishes once it has been honored (so to speak). You may want to journal about it.
You are not alone. I am here to support you on your journey! There are still spaces available for my October 17 workshop: "Self-Care Beyond Bubble Baths."