What do you do when you feel disappointed? Defeated? Or simply down?
Do you speak kindly to yourself? Give yourself space to feel your feelings?
Recently I said that one reason to get good at feeling bad is that you feel better. Because disappointment on its own is much better than humiliation heaped on top.
There’s another reason. When we double up on the bad feelings, we tend towards unhelpful behaviors. Like overeating. Because it feels good in the moment and gives a brief distraction from the negative feelings at hand.
But soon you have another feeling that exacerbates everything.
Because when you’re angry, sad, stressed…you eat cookies, not kale. And once you’ve eaten cookies (or chips, or ice cream), you think nothing of a donut the next morning. After all, you’ve blown it so why bother?
Then maybe guilt creeps in. Hopelessness. Shame is always lurking nearby.
You’re now at the bottom of a pile. What was initially a feeling of disappointment is now covered with embarrassment and shame. And once you decide you’ve blown it, here comes defeat.
This is a huge reason why so many women who come to coach with me had a hard time losing weight and keeping it off. When we’re in a flood of negative emotions, our logic about what we “should” do is useless. In fact, it only becomes another way of chastising ourselves. And food is such an easy, attractive buffer against those feelings.
Here’s what I want you to know. The wave of feelings comes from the story you’re telling yourself about the initial “thing.” Like your partner said certain words that you took as mean or insensitive. Rather than sitting with that initial “ouch” you weaved a tale about how if he loved you he wouldn’t say those things…or something similar. A few mental leaps later and you’re figuring out where you’re going to live and who gets the cat in the divorce.
Next time the flood starts coming and you reach for food, pause. Ask yourself what you’re feeling. Sit and feel that feeling. Then ask yourself what you truly need – what, if you were to treat yourself well, would you do now? That’s the thing to do.