Stop Eating Your Emotions (Or How I Avoid Stress Eating with Ho’opono’opono)

15 May
Photo by Miro Alt on Pexels.com

Come on. Admit it. You don’t always eat just to relieve physical hunger.

We’ve all done it. We eat to soothe ourselves. It could be a habit we learned as children, or we could have picked up well into adulthood. But there it is…the cycle of eat, temporarily feel better, feel guilty or disgusted with ourselves, eat, feel better…well you get it.

We could be bored, angry, depressed, stressed or even happy. And it’s a habit that doesn’t support our weight loss and management. Allowing ourselves to be hungry, really hungry: Stomach growling, light headed, and irritable makes us more aware of our response to emotions versus our physiological needs. This awareness will contribute more to transforming our habits, and therefore our weight and body image, than any other strategy. But how do we learn to cope with discomfort without eating? We need to FEEL.

That’s right feel it. Immerse yourself and then let it go. Pema Chodron speaks of bravery in the face of unpleasant emotions and painful thoughts: “Lean into the sharp points and fully experience them. The essence of bravery is being without self-deception. Wisdom is inherent in understanding emotions.” There’s no need to dwell on them, but pushing them down with food does not solve the ongoing problem of stress or emotional eating. Besides, when you “lean into the sharp points”, you begin to build an immunity to them. You begin to realize that you won’t die, and your world won’t come to an end if you experience them. You discovery your own bravery in the face of fearfulness.

One more thing…I’m talking about gently leaning into the sharp points of that emotional pain…NOT impaling yourself. Be gentle and loving with yourself, and use self-compassion of all times. That is the conundrum of life: It’s full of those sharp points but who rightfully would have the alternative? Without pain there is no pleasure. With pain comes learning. With learning comes wisdom. And who doesn’t want to have wisdom?

I first learned about Ho’opono’opono several years back when I was exploring The Secret and the Laws of Attraction. The concept was introduced by Joe Vitale in his book Zero Limits. The technique is simply four phrases repeated until you feel calm and centered:

I love you.

I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

Without going into too much detail, the phrases are meant to clear obstructions to our perception of the Oneness with all that is, and our personal responsibility for our lives. Sounds deep, I know, but there’s no denying it works. I’ve convinced the hardest of skeptics with my ability to resolve difficult issues in the work place, and even clear traffic congestion. If I have trouble sleeping after a hard day, or wake up with worries for what I will have to face in the near future, I repeat the phrases until I feel calm. If I’m tempted to have a handful of semisweet chips to assuage my anxiety, I “pono” it until the urge passes. It also helps to take deep breaths and exhale deeply in between phrases. Oxygen is a great stress reliever.

And as I’ve mentioned before, the ability to “pono” any unpleasant situation is a gift. We want to experience what we feel, on either end of the spectrum of emotions, in order to be healthy, well balanced adults. We have a responsibility to ourselves to acknowledge our emotions and not to push them down with food or other substances that only numb the pain temporarily. It’s so much better to control our response to unpleasant feelings, than to react in ways that damage us.

I will close with this final suggestion. In the heat of the moment, when we are wrapped up in whatever strong emotion we are experiencing, we may forget to use Ho’opono’opono. So get out your sticky notes and your sharpie marker, and write the phrases on several notes so that you can place them on the fridge, the pantry door, the bathroom mirror, the car dashboard, your computer screens, etc. After a while the sticky notes will disappear and you won’t need them anymore because it will be automatic to chant your way to calm.

And people will ask: “What’s up with so and so…they used to be so ___________, now they always appear to be calm?” Be nice to them. Share your secret.

Recommended reading: Zero Limits by Joe Vitale ISBN-13: 978-0470402566, When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron ISBN-13: 978-1611803433.

Patti offers advice based on her own experience with weight management and wellness coaching. Her advice is not meant to be substituted for professional medical or mental health treatment. Please consult your medical or mental health professional before entering any health and wellness protocol. Contact her at godessmoon2012@yahoo.com

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