When I started to awaken spiritually, I started realizing the detrimental impact of negative emotions and feelings on my psyche. When emotions are hidden and disguised, they are hidden within layers and layers of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so concealed that they tend to lead toward inaccurate judgements and neglect of one's own wellbeing. Negative emotions are, for example: apathy, grief, fear, hatred, shame, blame, regret, resentment, and anger. They are fueled by an underlying fear of the unknown, a fear of the actions of others, and a need to control them or stop them to avoid being harmed.
Emotions operate on many levels. They have a physical aspect as well as a psychological aspect. Emotions bridge thought, feeling, and action – they operate in every part of a person, controlling thinking, behavior, and action. People who ignore, dismiss, repress or just ventilate their emotions, are setting themselves up for physical illness. This is why emotions are considered to be the most reliable indicators of how things are going on in our lives.
When we have an experience that we find painful or difficult, and are either unable to cope with the pain, or just afraid of it, we often dismiss this emotion and either get busy, exercise more, drink or eat a bit more, or just pretend it has not happened. When we do this we do not feel the emotion and this results in what is called repressed, suppressed or buried emotions. These emotions remain buried within us until we bring that emotion up and feel the emotion, thus releasing it.
People who make a deep commitment to themselves to become emotionally healthy are willing to go to great lengths to learn about their emotional selves and to do what is required to release buried emotions. This is often an uncomfortable and difficult journey, but there is great joy once we overcome the first few hurdles.
Our real purpose in being on Mother Earth is to keep increasing our level of consciousness and living a more spiritual or love-based life. The higher the spirituality the closer we are to being what we are meant to be, a fully integrated and loving human being. We cannot shift to higher levels of consciousness as long as we have major negative emotions buried within us. This defines my approach- “Shed the Pounds of Emotions”. The core of this approach is releasing the excess baggage that weighs us down as we go through life. Instead of numbing ourselves, we choose a loving way to be with ourselves and the world around us- lighter, liberated, and in peace.
A Brief Overview
Our emotional body, like the physical body, must be properly nourished. It can grow tired and flabby when the same responses to the world are repeated over and over. It becomes diseased when exposed to toxins and unhealthy influences. Every time we feel a negative emotion, our emotional body is expressing discomfort, soreness, fatigue or pain. We have to pay attention to these symptoms just as we would to physical pain and discomfort. If we had a rock in your shoe, we wouldn’t hesitate to remove it. Yet how long have we endured emotional rocks in our life? In many ways, our priorities should be reversed. Our emotional body should remain energetic, alert, flexible and pleasing to experience. I think a single phrase, “the lightness of being,” covers all of these qualities.
The Approach- ‘Shed the Pounds of Emotions’
This is an important approach for us to feel ‘lighter’. Excess emotional weight and physical weight can make us feel the same- heavy and tired. Many of us carry around a lot of extra weight in life. For some of us, it’s physical weight in the form of body fat. And for even more of us, it’s mental weight in the form of grudges and other emotional baggage. How do I shed off the physical and emotional weight, and heal spiritually?
Factors contributing to food addiction and weight gain go deeper than the surface. When it comes to our relationship with food, there is much more going
on than we would often assume. Like any addictive substance, food is often used to cover over or subdue emotional pain. It is used to numb us or soothe us, yet it is also used to torment us or cause us anxiety. I am one of those people who is addicted to food, and I am aware now that my addiction to food has a lot to do with my emotional pain.
Many of us eat for reasons other than to nourish our bodies or even to enjoy one of life’s pleasures. To understand why we overeat, it’s valuable to identify what the emotions are that lead us to mindlessly snack, overindulge, or binge. Are these feelings familiar? Do they bring up any memories or remind us of ways we felt in our past? Do our patterns of eating remind us of ways we saw our parents use food or other substances? Or conversely, might our actions seem like a reaction to ways we saw our parents use food or other substances?
Due to my addiction to food, I tend to disregard my own values and personal goals in relation to my health, looks, and lifestyle. I use food to feel bad about myself, to punish myself, or to gain a sense of control. Instead of using it to fuel my body, I use food to fuel a cycle of self-hatred and self-protection. All of us have an inner coach, or “critical inner voice,” that lures us into destructive behavior then pounces on us the minute we mess up. This critical inner voice is the driving force behind my food addiction, and to challenge this unhealthy relationship with food, I realized that I must deal with this internal enemy.
To have a healthy body, it is necessary for me to take action of a physical level with diet and exercise, but to have a healthy relationship with food, it is necessary for me to understand myself on a deeper emotional level or to uncover why I eat the way I eat. If I challenge the behaviors alone through diet and exercise, the emotions I used eating to cover up won’t just go away. Once I identify the feelings and inner voices that perpetuate the cycle of self-hatred and the insensitivity to my body, I can gain control of self-destructive eating habits and not react adversely to pressure and triggers that lead me to abuse food. By taking action on a physical level and taking interest on an emotional level, I can re-establish my relationship with food, with my body, with my past, and with myself as a whole. I can uncover who I really am, my real wants, desires, and goals, and I can stop engaging in the patterns that get in my way.
The Emotional Cycle
Emotion suppression, which essentially is an avoidance of emotion, is a coping strategy that many people employ mistakenly thinking it is healthy or the right thing to do. Unfortunately, avoiding our emotions never makes them go away and makes it more difficult for us to manage a similar situation when it happens in the future.
When we suppress an emotion, the energy of that emotion does not go away. Instead, it subsides — it sinks deeper. Rather than resolve the emotional energy through some form of response, we choose (however unconsciously) to hold it inside. Though the immediacy of the feeling may pass, the energy does not. We hold it deep inside and, typically, it stays inside.
When we get triggered from an event or a situation, we react on a physical and an emotional level, and we try to cover up feelings we don’t want to feel. One of the most common ways is through food that hide the difficult feelings by producing a momentary sense of relief, covering up emotions and creating a numbing effect for the feelings that started the cycle in the first place. Food, paired with the desire to cover up the feelings, enables us to forget, at least for a short while, the pain that we are going through.
Soon, the forgetting starts to wear off, giving way to both physical and emotional pain. The physical manifests in discomfort and the emotional comes from feeling guilt and shame about repeating a well-worn pattern. To top all that, we often feel confused because we have forgotten or suppressed the original trigger that started the downward cycle in the first place.
The guilt and shame produced by the hangover, often acts as a new trigger. Then the cycle begins again. We continue to eat poorly, and the cycle continues. Rather than drawing increased momentum from healthy habits, we feel the reverse, a negative cycle that spirals us downward. Many of us think that we just lack discipline. But the truth is we’re caught in the cycle.
Shedding the Pounds
Becoming physically fit is a not only a matter of improving our appearance, but also our overall health and longevity. Cardio exercise, weight training and a healthy, well-balanced diet are essential components to any health and fitness regimen. This is just one part of the equation. To live a healthy life, we need to be emotionally ‘fit’ too- emotionally balanced.
Everyone has a history and an emotional response to it. What matters, when it comes to being a healthy, thriving human being, is whether, or not, we have deliberately unpacked our baggage. If not, it is bound to thwart our personal growth. We can never feel profoundly significant at our core until we make peace with this emotional baggage. The healthiest among us, have rummaged around in the contents of their own suitcases. They have explored what they feel and why they feel the way they do about their history. This act of simply identifying and labeling their emotions as they explore their past serves as an amazing springboard to personal growth, self-insight and maturity. It even impacts physical well-being. In order to get beyond our past; we sometimes need to get into our past.
It’s not easy digging up the past; in fact, it can be very painful. The old adage, “time heals all wounds” really only works if we take steps to start the healing process. I am proposing three simple steps to shed the emotional baggage.
Step one: Identify blind spots
This step requires complete honesty and a willingness to dig deep and openly face our issues. For example, do you have a temper to the point that you throw things, slam doors or worse? Obviously, the temper needs to be dealt with, but more importantly, you need to discover what lies behind the temper. Maybe you have an addiction that you’re reluctant to face such as sexual addiction or drugs/alcohol. Whatever the issue, you must be able, willing and ready to face it head on.
Step two: Stop the blame game
It’s so much easier to go through life blaming our problems on mom and dad, an older brother or the girl/guy who broke our heart. But eventually you have to take responsibility for your life, your actions and your emotions. The blame game doesn’t change anything. And this includes blaming yourself. If you are stuck in this cycle—snap out of it! Your life will never get better and you will never move forward until you break the blame chain.
Step three: Forgive
It is crucial that we reach a point where we can truly let go of the hurt that we have experienced. No matter how violent it was, how deep it was, how prolonged it was, no matter how much affect there’s been on your life, if you do not extend forgiveness, you are the person stuck with the bitterness and revenge. A bitter person cannot effectively love others. Letting go is not easy and a person may not deserve it and may not even ask for it, but you should extend forgiveness because of what it will do for you. Again, this includes forgiving yourself.
We may not have the option to pack up our emotions and ship them off to a faraway continent, but we do have the option to take charge of them and choose how they will affect us for the rest of our lives. It’s our choice. Here’s to choosing freedom!
And in the process towards emotional freedom, there are a few exercises that are always helpful such as meditation, heliotropic breathing, freeform writing, positive thinking and positive self-talk.
The Healing Path
We look at our bodies, minds, emotions and spirit as if each part is fully separate from the other rather than totally intertwined. We believe we can take things apart into small pieces and deal with these small pieces in isolation of the complete idea or concept.
This fragmented approach has lead us to look at health in a compartmentalized manner rather than as the management of a totality. We believe that our bodies, organs and systems are totally separate from our thoughts, emotions, energy fields and our spiritual selves. We need to look at how our thoughts can affect our behavior and ultimately our health. We need to understand how our emotions work and how repressed emotions can create serious illness in our bodies. We need to appreciate how our values and beliefs can directly affect our everyday health.
Our body, emotion, mind, energy body and soul together form the whole person. It is only by dealing with each part of the whole within the whole, that we can have vital and energetic health. If we want to feel truly alive and open to life’s opportunities we need to look carefully at our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. We need to identify our shortcomings and make those changes we need so that we are truly vibrating at the highest level and enjoying life to the fullest.