A few things I learned this week that may help you manage your self-soothing habit / addiction. Here’s the headline: When feeling a difficult emotion, trying to get myself to feel “good” instead of “bad” is too high a task. I have used food as a freeway because it’s such a far distance between those states. But if I have a more reasonable expectation of myself, then I won’t need to rely on this tool to attain the unrealistic. Coming back to a neutral state with just my own internal resources is doable. Thanks Regina for the conversation that led me here!
I would love to see you write in the comments – what is your self-soothing habit and how you are dealing with it?
- Setting a reasonable goal for my ability to shift my emotional state.
- Realizing that when I’m “feeling bad,” I have had an unreasonable expectation of “forcing myself feel good” or of “healing the emotion” by confronting its root cause.
- Rather, a more doable goal is to dissipate the unpleasant emotion to return to a neutral state. This is important because I would only be in a situation of wanting to eat emotionally if I am too underresourced (emotionally triggered, tired, alone, etc.) to make a healthier choice. So in a way, this would be the least likely time I could expect myself to accomplish such a feat as healing childhood pains or make myself feel “great about life again.”
- So, the question in these moments becomes: Can I create a clean slate (come back to neutral) right now? Yes, No, or Maybe. Another word for this is becoming present or mindful.
- Spend 90 seconds for emotions to pass
- Emotions can be intense or overwhelming to deal with. If we start reacting to them, they can last any amount of time – minutes, hours, months, etc. But if we wait in the moment and are present with them, they can pass quickly.
- Here’s the 90 Second Rule: When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. In other words, the lifespan of an emotion is 90 seconds.
- When you start feeling a difficult emotion, choose to take 90 seconds to feel how it takes form in your body, and then invite, allow, and watch it dissipate from your body.
- One note here is that emotions are like onions with many, many layers. So you may get to repeat this exercise many times to finally heal from an emotional experience.
- If it’s too hard to confront emotions, shift my thinking from focusing on “what emotions am I having” to “what energies are impacting me right now?”
- I have on so many occasions not had the courage or wherewithal to spend those 90 seconds. Emotions are connected to deep-rooted pains from childhood that in an underresourced moment are complex and not immediately healable.
- Therefore, I now think of impulses/feelings within me as free-form passing “energies” rather than emotions.
- Cleanse unhelpful energies
- An image in my mind here is clearing the slate, allowing energies to pass, and coming back to myself as I am, present in this moment.
- Think about how to cleanse energies that come up or are leftover from experiences.
- Some ways to do this: burn sage, take a shower, light a candle, use essential oils, write, draw, text a friend about it
- Gain awareness of what energies get absorbed within you and how to best deal with the various types.
- I’m starting to see food as an artificial, temporary source of joy, but the body as an independent, self-replenishing, never-ending resource of pleasure.
- Today was an amazing day on this. I have been feeling a discomfort recently in my body. I can feel my hip fat getting scrunched when I sit or do certain yoga poses, and I realized that it actually hurts. I was thinking that while I constantly have this low-grade discomfort, what I could be feeling instead is the pleasure and delight of the healthy body I currently have.
- Today when I ate, the joy came from two new places (in addition to enjoying the food):
- Creating a pleasurable feeling in my body by taking steps to have less fat on it – someday.
- Enjoying the pleasure my body is giving me – right now – just by breathing and sensing the world around me. Saying to myself: “I am willing to feel the pleasure of being in my body today.”
Let’s have some community about this… please leave a comment below to let others know how you are evolving your own approach to managing emotions! Thanks!