Sitting through cravings and other feelings

Cravings and other feelings

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom." — Victor E. Frankl.

When we get emotionally triggered, often the best thing to do is not react but to sit through the feeling and let it pass. Is this easy? No.  

One weekend I was emotionally triggered by a situation and it didn’t pass quickly. First I was very sad and then it changed to anger. I was so tempted to respond to these emotions with action, by reaching out to the person who triggered me and making it “better.” But these were MY emotions that I needed to process, and it was not the other person’s responsibility to make them go away.  So I sat with them; I wrote out my anger, screaming it out on paper, with tears and all. The next day when I woke up the cloud had cleared and I was so thankful I had not reached out to that person, because it would have only made a bigger and more stressful situation. I felt relieved.

Emotions are a part of being human. But if we take action on every icky feeling life can get pretty messy. It’s a skill to sit through feelings without reacting to them. We have to remember that feelings don’t define us. They come and go like clouds in the sky, so don’t hold onto them and attach meaning to them, just feel them, observe them, take note, and let them go.

Many of us we react to our emotions by eating. We try soothing ourselves with food rather than sitting with the emotion and investigating it. This “unfelt” and “stuffed down” emotion can turn up as a craving or void feeling and we confuse it with a need for food. Overtime this eating pattern can become such a habit. We start to confuse certain emotional states with hunger needing to eat.

The next time you catch yourself going for food when you are not hungry, pause for a moment and investigate what is going on below the surface.

Sometimes when we’ve been confusing physical hunger and emotional hunger for a long time it can be difficult to recognize which is which. This is one of the areas I help clients with.

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