When was the last time someone said something to you that Totally. Blew. Your Mind?
It happened to me this summer.
Here’s the story.
I was sitting next to a woman at a meeting, and we begin chatting about our children (of course).
She shared that her 14 year-old daughter had recently met her long-lost father who, after more than a decade of being ghost, resurfaced with a burning desire to be a Real Father.
The woman was, understandably, cautious. The daughter was, naturally, thrilled.
They invited the father to the daughter’s upcoming 8th grade promotion ceremony and hoped for the best.
It soon became apparent that he was (still) unreliable, (still) selfish, and (still) making empty promises. Incredibly, after years of ZERO contact, he expected to be called Dad, shown affection and consulted about plans.
The daughter was heart-broken. After a lifetime of missing her father and hoping he was, deep-down, a Good Guy, she had to face the reality that he was an immature, selfish, demanding whiner. Talk about anger, betrayal and disappointment.
I asked the woman what advice she had given her daughter.
I told her not to eat her feelings. She had already put on Worry Weight before he even came to town.
Whoa… that is not what I had expected her to say nor was it the advice that I would have given my own daughter (at the time).
We all know about emotional eating.
Instead of confronting our feelings and emotions, we eat to distract or soothe or protect ourselves.
Intuitively, the idea of emotional eating makes sense, but I had always thought of feelings as abstract and not real, concrete, tangible things that you could, say, eat.
My mother used to assign each of her gray hairs to something one of her kids had done.
“I got this one when your brother jumped off the roof,” she might say. Or, “See this one? It’s from when you stayed out all night.”
If we imagine that our emotions are like gray hairs sprouting from our heads, those “extra” pounds are not so mysterious after all.
They are anger, depression, loneliness, fear.
Are you emotionally overweight?
What do you do with your emotions?
Do you eat them? If so, are they hanging out in places that you would prefer they did not?
I know that I am carrying around a few heavy emotions of my own: sadness at my sister’s death last year; worry about my daughter away in college; anger at my ex-husband for… things.
I thought I had been doing a great job dealing with my emotions, but now I wonder if they have just been turned into these last twenty pounds I can’t seem to lose.
If I face my emotions, will I lose the weight?
Because here is the thing: I want to be emotionally light. Buoyant. Lifted. Free.
Of course, I would be thrilled to drop twenty pounds, but what I really want is Peace, so I have decided to focus on my emotional health and treat my emotions as treasured objects in need of repair and attention.
- I will face them not eat them.
- I will acknowledge them not drink them.
- I will examine them not smother them in gravy.
It is a work-in-progress, and it hasn’t been easy, but I do feel better.
And, yes, I have lost a few pounds.
- What do you think of the woman’s advice to her daughter?
- Good? Helpful? Harmful? Would you tell your own child not to “eat her feelings?”
Angela Tyler is an author (Queen Mother), educator and mother of two. Angela inspires and educates women to embrace their fitness super powers and fall in love with their scales (really!).