Emotion: a moving of the feelings: agitation of the mind: one of the three groups of the phenomena of the mind – feeling, distinguished from cognition and will.
Food: what one feeds on: that which, being digested, nourishes the body: whatever sustains or promotes growth.
No obvious connection there, is there?
My dictionary doesn’t make a distinction between emotions and feelings, but some psychologists do, so I’ll be more clear about the sort of thing I’m writing about here: hurt, upset, sadness, anger, grief, and maybe even boredom if it is accompanied by an irritation about the boredom. There are positive emotions, but they generally don’t cause problems – unless maybe you’re on a permanent high and can’t get down.
Let’s think about lions for a moment. They lounge around in the sun most of the time. When they get hungry, they go and kill something and eat it until they are full. Then they lounge around until they are hungry again and amuse themselves by fighting among themselves or driving off other lions. They don’t go out and kill something for something to do because they are bored. They don’t go out and kill something because they are angry, or sad. They eat when they need to eat, and they don’t even need to eat every day. Can you imagine a lioness going out and killing and eating every time her partner growled at her? Can you imagine a lioness going out and killing and eating every time her cubs became a little boisterous?
Ok. Lions probably don’t experience emotions and they are much more focused in the now, but they probably don’t get overweight and suffer heart and circulation problems either.
So why do people do those things?
Why do people head for the fridge when someone has done something they didn’t like? Why do people head for the fridge when they feel lonely?
Why do people head for the fridge when the commercial break starts or the clock says ‘supper time’?
Why do they do those things regardless of whether or not they feel hungry. And it’s difficult to imagine how someone could feel hungry after eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner – isn’t it?
They do it because they don’t want to feel.
They do it because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t.
They do it because it distracts them from being fully present with themselves.
And they do that because they don’t really like themselves, and they certainly don’t love themselves.
No one who loves themselves would mistreat their body in any way, because love doesn’t mistreat. Love and health are synonymous.
As children we naturally express how we feel from moment to moment. I feel sick, I don’t like that, I’ve got a headache, my tummy hurts, I’m bored… and when we feel angry we shout and stamp our feet and walk away. But as we grow we are taught that good children don’t do those things. It’s not polite to tell aunty you don’t like her cakes when she’s spent all afternoon making them ‘specially for you. If you shout at me I’ll give you a smack. Idle hands are the devil’s playthings. So we are taught to lie about how we feel, to not express when we are deeply unhappy, that anger is unacceptable, and that sitting contentedly, happy in our own mental world of fascination and creativity, is unacceptable.
And then after getting screwed up like that (because our parents feel pressure to socialise us and make us acceptable to others – because they understand loneliness and don’t want you to develop any traits that would cause you to be rejected by others) they feed you when you are no longer obviously expressing your unhappiness. They know something is wrong by your change of mood, and they don’t like seeing you unhappy so they feed you. Chocolate, sweets, ice cream, cream cakes are all foods that are used to entice you into a better mood state. Notice that apples, pears, oranges, nuts, tomatoes and such are never used to entice you to change your mood state.
When you are ill, you get treats, all the same foods filled with fat and sugar.
Now when we are little our parents and close relatives are Gods. They are all-wise. They can read our minds. They can work magic. And so what they teach us is stored deep within our minds and we call on it in times of trouble.
Times of trouble are usually when we feel low, or bored.
We have been taught that eating fat and sweet takes the pain away. At least that’s what we act as if we’ve been taught. But there was a processing error in our young minds. What we really got, and really wanted was love and attention and appreciation. The treat was just the medium that transported and expressed that feeling of being loved and cared for. But we mistook it.
The reason we go to the fridge is because it reminds us of being loved and cared for. It reminds us of loving arms around us; being tucked up in bed; having someone come up with ideas of how to have some fun together with them; having someone stroke your hair; and those are wonderful things to have experienced as a child. To know and to feel loved at any time during life is a wonderful experience.
You can change the pattern if you want to.
You just need to experience the emotion that has been buried. You need to let it out and let it go.
Writing is a wonderful medium for releasing emotion. Make a pact with yourself that every time you head for the fridge and you have no feelings of hunger that you will sit down for just five minutes and write. What you write is what you feel. Start off with ‘I feel… …right now’ and insert whatever you are feeling – bored, lonely, unloved, fed-up and so on. And then write ‘this feels like the time when…’ and allow your mind to drift back into the past and write out whatever comes up. Write down who did what when and why. Write down who you’re angry at. Write down what you’d like to say now or what you should have said then and keep going until you get tears. Until you touch the emotional hot spot that causes tears to flow you will not bring about any significant change. Once the tears flow you can stop writing and rip up the paper. Language and grammar are unimportant; no one will read your words.
Make eating a conscious activity.
It’s OK to feel however you feel. No one has the right to deny you the full and natural expression of your emotions. But you do need to take responsibility for you. Expressing your emotions isn’t hitting, hurting, or seeking revenge on another. It is giving yourself permission to feel however you are feeling and giving yourself permission to express how you are feeling to anyone that you feel it’s important to express those feelings to. It is not an excuse to blame someone else for how you feel. Your feelings are yours, and why you are feeling them is your stuff. Others only fire off emotions so that you can identify a problem and heal it. They are not to blame for how you feel – and neither are you.
Michael J. Hadfield MBSCH is a registered clinical hypnotherapist. You can experience his unique style on a popular range of hypnosis CD’s and tapes at http://www.hypnosisiseasy.com Here you can also obtain treatment for a variety of problems and explore his approach to health, healing, and hypnosis.