I’m willing to bet this past couple of weeks have been filled with emotional turmoil. There is much uncertainty for those who are living in the US right now. Many people are feeling despair, fear, anger, hopelessness, helplessness and resignation.
What do you do with your negative emotions? How do they affect you? Do you want to stay in bed? Do you reach for the sweets? Do you get mesmerized by media? Do you eat mindlessly to comfort yourself?
Okay so now what? What can you do about it?
Start by becoming aware
The first thing we have to do is get clarity on what's going on. For many people food choices have a strong emotional aspect to it. It's time to find out what's driving your current state of mind and your choices. How does feeling down in the dumps change how you eat?
Get some paper or your journal and spend some time reflecting on and writing down the answers the following questions:
• How are you feeling? What emotions have been most prominent for you in the last week? Make a list of these emotions.
• What is the impact of these emotions on your food and lifestyle choices? Be brutally honest with yourself here. No need to hide anything.
• What do you say to yourself to justify your unhealthy choices? What have you been telling yourself? What has the running commentary been in your mind?
Now you can take control
Now that you know what has been happening it's time to decide what you want instead and figure out how to get there. Continue to use your paper/journal to answer these questions.
• How do you want to feel? What do you want your life to bring to you emotionally? Think about a perfect day for you. What does that feel like? Do you want to feel at ease? To feel safe? Freedom? Joy?
• How will these more positive emotions impact your food and lifestyle choices? How will your day be better? What will you be able to do that you aren't doing now?
• How can you flip the running commentary to an empowering script? Take a look at your self-talk from the previous section. What can you say to yourself instead to help you stay on track?
• How can you make this a reality? Make a list of the things you could do to make this new vision a reality. Select a few that you will do. Then choose something you can do right now and do it. Come back to your list as you make progress and choose a few more actions to do. Keep on going until you are happy with how your life is going.
Here's an example:
Here's how Imani (a fictional person) has used this process. These are her answers to the questions posed in the sections above.
How am I feeling? I don't feel safe. I feel vulnerable, anxious and depressed. I don't want to even leave the house. Everyday I worry about what I'll have to face when I go to work. What will I confront out on the street?
How do my emotions impact my choices? I just want to hibernate and sit here on my couch watching old movies eating popcorn and cookies. I don't even feel like cooking. Nothing seems appetizing. I've barely moved from off the couch. I've just ordered out food to be delivered so I don't have to see anyone.
What do I say to myself? I can't get out of this funk. I keep telling myself "tomorrow I'll feel better and I'll do better." Or "I can't worry about good nutrition right now." Or "I never can stop myself."
How do I want to feel? I want to feel strong. I want to empowered and in control. I want to feel safe. I want to feel healthy and good in my body. I want to feel energized and committed to helping my community. I want to feel like my life has a purpose.
How will these positive emotions impact my choices? When I'm feeling better I usually enjoy getting outside for a walk or going to yoga class. I miss that. I'd love to get back to that drawing project I was working on. I feel connected to spirit when I'm drawing. And I've been meaning to get together with Janet to brainstorm about that project we've been talking about. I would be motivated to get started on that. Plus I could get back into the kitchen. I have a new recipe book that I got a couple of weeks ago and there are several dishes I want to try. I would be able to get back to living my life.
How can I flip the script of my self talk? You know, I've got it backwards. I'll feel better if I do better. All this sugar makes me feel good for a few minutes but then I feel worse. I CAN stop myself. There are plenty of times I've stopped myself before like when I stopped eating pork. Or when I stayed raw for 3 months. In fact before this all happened I hadn't even eaten any cookies for months.
So what can I do? I can talk to someone about what's happening. We can figure out how we can support each other. Here are the names of some friends I can reach out to. Just to talk. It'll do me good to have someone to share my feelings with and talk about what we can do. Right now I'm going to go get my yoga mat and find a YouTube video yoga class to do. Then I'll take a short walk around the block.
Now it's your turn
Use this process to find your way out of the funk or rut you're in. Your story will be different. Your feelings are your own and your solutions will depend on what's going on in your life and what works best for you.
Want help? We'll be focusing on this very topic in our next Pamoja! group coaching call this weekend. It's open to all full members of the Pamoja! program (free trial members not eligible). Find out more here.
I'd love to hear from you. What have you been doing to help you stay focused and on track?