Feeling, not Feeding the Feelings
As I sat down to write this post, I became aware that the words from a calypso song (from the album Nita) kept repeating over and over again in my head: “I’m feelin’ the feelin’.” But that wasn’t always the case!
As a child, I was taught to suppress my feelings. I was allowed to feel happy and I was allowed to feel sad — as long as the situation warranted it (I could cry because someone died, but not because I didn’t get invited to a party!). For sure, I was not allowed to be angry because nice girls aren’t angry.
Whenever waves of feelings came crashing down, I discovered that food would take the discomfort away — temporarily. I fed my feelings for probably the first half of my life.
Keeping feelings buried, however, used up a great deal of my energy, and for many years, my life-force energy was wasted on keeping feelings buried. I grew up devoid of feelings, and also pretty much, devoid of energy.
When I stopped compulsive overeating, I was often flooded with feelings, and they were sometimes big, powerful, and scary. Using my support system, I learned to be with my feelings and work through them.
In addition, I discovered that nice girls can and do, in fact, get angry and that appropriately expressed anger can be a motivator to action. Suppressed anger, on the other hand, is often a hidden source of low self-esteem.
Robert Frost said, “The best way out is always through.” And the best way to deal with our feelings is also through. Allow them to flow: breathe, feel the feelings, and process them.
AN EXERCISE FOR YOU
Become AWARE. Are you feeling your feelings or using food and/or energy to stuff them? Without judgment, just notice your feelings. Are they acknowledged? Expressed? Repressed?
1) ACKNOWLEDGMENT. Let yourself be aware that you are feeling your feelings. No judgment, just awareness. You might even say to yourself something like, “Boy, I have a lot of feelings around this.”
2) EXPRESSED FEELINGS. If you are expressing feelings, are you being appropriate? Violent anger and rage is not appropriate. Feelings must never be abusive or damaging to another.
3) REPRESSED FEELINGS. Try journaling about specific incidents in your life that impacted you, imagining how you might have felt at the time and tapping into how you feel about it now. Visualize yourself having the feelings so that you might begin to become aware of the sensation. [Note: I needed to be educated around feelings. When I was new at feeling my feelings, I didn’t have names for them. Thankfully, I had great support people that helped me label what I was feeling as anger, sadness, fear, etc.]
Remember: Awareness without judgment is the important first step, and just the awareness that you are having feelings will begin to free stuck energy.
Learn more about feeling, not feeding, your feelings in STOP EATING YOUR HEART OUT: The 21-Day Program to Free Yourself from Emotional Eating. www.stopeatingyourheartout.com