Why can’t I deal with my emotions?

I got a new job! Hooray! Very excited. It’s with a great company and the position is fantastic, exactly what I would have written as a job description if I had to write one myself. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to receive the offer, and I was able to negotiate and get exactly what I was looking for, talk about being blessed! 🙂  All good things, but still emotional and yes, did lead me to eat more than I should. I noticed though, very habitual to reach for food when I’m experiencing intense emotions.

Emotional eating is so popular these days, everyone talks about it.  Emotions are not just related to eating though, people who smoke, do drugs or drink also struggle with emotions and are looking for a ‘way out’ to deal with it.  For me, it’s food that provides that immediate chemical state change that releases serotonin immediately and I feel better, at least for the moment. But, why can’t I ‘deal’ with my emotions? This is the question I’ve been asking myself.  I realize as I look back to my formative years, expressing my emotions was not rewarded, in fact it’s been the opposite. I was ridiculed, called names or shunned if I was expressed how I felt at the moment.  It’s no wonder as an adult, I’ve learned to not express how I feel to those who need to hear it. Instead, I eat then tell a good friend about how I feel but to actually ‘feel’ the emotions (let them subside and then recruit my entire brain to make a decision) that doesn’t happen.

I’ve been seeing it frequently and it explains where I am today. Food is everything except pure ‘nourishment’. I have been dancing around it for years, using it as an excuse to say, “I can’t help but to eat.” when in fact, that’s not true.  Expressing emotions is something we don’t like to practice because in our society, it means we may be ‘weak’ when in fact as experts point out, being emotionally intelligent determines the quality of our life. Emotional intelligence means you’re aware of the emotions as they arise, and instead of reacting in the moment (think slapping your boyfriend when he tells you he’s been cheating), you notice the emotions welling up inside, you allow them to come (experts say an emotion lasts 90 seconds) and then you wait until it subside before you react prematurely.  Easier said than done and takes a whole lot of practice if all you’ve known for years is to impulsively react based on how you ‘feel’.  One other thing about emotions is that if you talk about it or think about the situation repeatedly (obsessive thinking) you’re more likely to react impulsively instead of distracting yourself with other thoughts or thinking logically about the situation before responding.

Distraction is what leads to overeating, smoking, drinking etc. because people are trying to deal with their emotions, they’ve just learned to deal with them in a negative way instead of working through the steps to deal with them in a healthy way.  I never learned the healthy way because I emulated others in my family that were lead by emotions instead of logical reasoning.  The goal for me is to notice when emotions rise up, think of it as a flashing light, what’s the signal my body is trying to tell me?  Appreciate the signal, wait for 90+ seconds for it to subside, whether it’s going for a walk, or helping someone else, then take time to think it through logically.  From there, then make a decision and if I can’t make a decision, write down my options on paper, let it go and come back to it later.

How do you currently deal with intense emotions? Do you eat, drink, sleep or just take a walk? What are positive ways and negative ways you are dealing with emotions today? Where would you like to get to?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *