One of the steps in a weight loss journey is learning how to allow and process emotions. You learn how to stay present with your feelings and urges. Often we use food as a means to buffer or escape negative emotions. But when you know how to process your feelings, you find that you no longer need to escape these emotions with food.
Learning to process emotions is a continuous practice that gets better with time.
Don’t expect to be good at it right from the start. It is a practice to which you must commit, especially in the beginning when you don’t see any outside measure of the progress that you are making.
During my Path to Joy – Ditch Emotional Eating Workshop, we discussed the concept of sitting with an emotion and not answering an urge or craving with food.
Two words came up: disappointment and deprivation. So I looked these words up in Google. For disappointment, the definition was “sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”
For deprivation, the meaning was “the lack or denial of something considered to be a necessity.”
What is lacking in life that the experience of eating treats, desserts, potato chips, or ice cream seems to fill?
Is it entertainment?
Do I need this entertainment every night? Every week? With each meal?
Your body knows when it is full. And when you continue to eat after you are full, it starts feeling awful. Yet it’s easy to continue eating because of desire or an urge. But do you really want to?
I am thinking about Julia Cameron and her Artist’s Way.
In this book, she describes a creative recovery. She invites us to withdraw from life as we know it — a withdrawal from the urges and cravings of frantic busyness. A departure from the overwhelm of too-muchness. A call to stop the endless longing to fill a perceived void. A pullback from the pursuit of future hope or expectation. It is a detachment from what should be, to the now, the present moment.
Not knowing lack is ok. But getting to know it creates space.
This lack cannot be filled with food and more food. If after you eat, you still hunger, then lack, void, space continues calling. And what is called for is withdrawal into space, emptiness, and void.
And what is so bad about deprivation, disappointment, and sadness? They are emotions equal to all others. They are responses to thoughts that we have about events in the world.
My challenge is to sit with your anger, frustration, disappointment, or deprivation. Don’t be in such a hurry to fill that space. And for those ready, willing, and able, seek ways to expand the space. Expand your capacity to enjoy the container.
Miles Davis said don’t just play the notes, play the space.
Space is where all of your power lies.
Cultivate and nurture the space.
And if that space brings sadness, do as Julia says, and “let your tears prepare the ground for future growth.”