Our emotions play a huge roll in every day actions and decisions.  They come and go and change like the direction of the wind. They are the driving force behind many of our behaviors both supportive and unsupportive.  If you have been a yo-yo dieter, you know full well that emotions have a huge role in weight loss or weight gain.  Your emotional state can catapult your weight loss journey into an amazing success story or it can send you into a downward spiral eating binge.

One of the biggest challenges adults have is properly responding to past emotions, which are connected to a similar event that is happening in the present.  When these emotions get triggered, the same feelings start being recycled in the mind and then we begin painting the old outcome into a mental picture of what surely is to come because we have been through this before!

Our emotions can be a wonderful check and balance system. (For the purposes of this blog, I will refer to negative emotional experiences.  As you know, good emotions are real and wonderful and we should pay attention and journal about these as well so we can remember that there are so many things to be thankful for.) Emotions are like indicator lights on a dashboard. They should not be ignored.  If an emotion is bringing up something unsettling to you, it’s your body’s way of letting you know that something is not good with your soul.  It’s important to remember that these emotions are usually never about the current issue at hand.  Not that the current issue shouldn’t be dealt with, but please know that this new issue is a combination of an old experience you had being mixed with the current one.  Therefore, before making a decision, try to be mindful and step back a bit to analyze and perhaps untangle the current truth from the old experience.

Is there a difference between feelings and emotions?

There is a difference between feelings and emotions and it is important to understand this.  Dr. Sarah McKay, neuroscientist and author of the Your Brain Health blog explains it as: “Emotions play out in the theater of the body. Feelings play out in the theater of the mind.”  Playing out in the theater of body would look like crying, laughing, throwing something, EATING something, and adding to her explanation may I say that feelings also play out in the theater of the heart.

I really like her explanation because it helps us understand how our body, mind, and spirit interact and co-exist.  Understanding the process of interaction – emotion – forces recall of old interaction – triggers feelings (old and new feelings quickly mix and form new reality), will help us begin looking at our interactions with a different perspective.  How exciting!

Since our emotions are a product of our thoughts and beliefs, they are dashboard indicators of our belief system and thought life.  This is an amazing super power to have!  Many times our belief system is so ingrained, we don’t realize that we act or react in very specific ways to certain stimuli. If we pay attention to our emotions and recognize how they serve us, we can begin to uncover some of our faulty unsupportive behaviors and beliefs that we hold.

Using our emotions in a positive way

“…becoming aware of your emotions and feelings, determining which is which and their root causes, and then inserting conscious thought followed by deliberate action, [will help you] choose how you navigate and experience the world” (Debbie Hampton, http://www.thebestbrainpossible.com).  Wouldn’t it be great to RESPOND to life, issues, and people versus REACT to life, issues, and people?!?  I would like to be able to step back, breathe, look at the situation or person in truth and love, really see their pain, and then discuss the issue calmly with confidence and peace.  I would love to be able to do that with myself as well!  (Step away from the fridge, Nanette!)

This is a good spot to remind us all never to make decisions when emotions are heightened! Emotions are not to be activated while deciding on a something.  Whether it’s to speak or act, our emotions need to be stable and neutral.  If we are exhausted we should not confront others, get a good night’s sleep first.  If you are hungry, postpone a potentially emotionally charged discussion until after you have eaten.

To get a hold of our emotions is the first big step. 

So, let’s start with us first!  Knowing that we are on this weight loss journey together, how can we step back, breathe, and react differently to stimuli coming at us?  Our body will let us know, we will be hungry at times of stress, no matter what form stress comes in.  Let’s start being aware of the hunger emotion.  If emotions play out in the theater of the body, then we can say that hunger is an emotion.  And that is where we get emotional eating from.  But you now have some understanding on how to untangle the body, mind, spirit interactions when it comes to emotion so let’s apply that to the hunger emotion.  Your first step can be noticing hunger and then mindfully recalling if there are certain situations that are triggering that hunger.  Patterns are important, so if you see a pattern, make note of it and start untangling from there. Maybe there is a certain time you get hungry, or after an interaction with one specific person, or a certain job that your boss asks you to complete.  Take note and be mindful!

We have to do mental evaluation and then we need to understand how to properly combine the present day event with the primary emotion and not let it affect our judgment. We cannot fix our past. But we can be set free from it. Through forgiveness and releasing old feelings and emotions and recognizing that by holding on to it is weighing us down in more ways than one.  “The process of renewing our minds includes managing our emotions by managing our thoughts and acknowledging our feelings honestly and lovingly in the relationships we are in.” Neil Anderson

Stand on the truth.

When it comes down to finally dealing with your current issue like unsupportive eating habits or reacting versus responding, separating your emotions and feelings is the first step.  Knowing that your emotions are indicators to your belief system, you now have the ability to adjust your thought process using current facts instead of old feelings and previous paintings mixed with emotions which were created years ago by a younger less wise version of you.

“In the gaps between emotion, feeling, and acting, we all have the power to change and direct our lives for the better. Understanding your emotions and managing your feelings with conscious thinking so they don’t hijack your brain followed by conscious action can actually change your brain through neuroplasticity, the scientifically proven ability of your brain to change form and function based on repeated emotion, thought, and behavior, and change your life.”  Debbie Hapmton

Feature image via Earth.com