Emotions and judgment
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Emotions in themselves are neither good nor bad. How we act them out may have positive or negative consequences, but the emotions themselves simply ARE. We are taught (I believe) to place judgments on our emotions early in life, that is if we are even taught that our emotions are even valid to experience! I have heard so many times “don’t be sad” “don’t be angry”... “there’s nothing to be afraid of”... at some point I stopped allowing myself to experience the mild forms of these emotions, and stuffed them into a corner... until they could not be contained any longer and exploded. Usually the outcome was unpleasant. And one of the more frustrating parts was that because I was denying my emotions I had no words to describe them. I am a bit of a writer, and I can craft images and evoke emotions with words, but ask me about my own emotions and I am often speechless... without the words to express my pain, anger, or even joy. I am working on this (and have been for a while)... and the more I expand my emotional vocabulary, the less I feel compelled toward emotional eating. For me the seemingly uncontrollable emotional eating was due in large part to the need to numb the emotions I felt had no validity or caused discomfort... because they were unknown and unknowable due to my lack of words and understanding of them.
For instance... the range between anger and rage. I can be many shades of angry ranging from mildly irritated to completely enraged. They are all valid emotions. I have the right to feel them, even if they are uncomfortable. If I can name them and claim them then I can more readily process them without resorting to feeding them junk food. Rage is an interesting emotional state. It seems to me to be an emotional state that requires action, whether it be screaming, cussing, running it off, hitting a heavy bag, telling somebody an uncomfortable truth (probably in a tactless way, though which can cause problems in the future)... but I automatically try to avoid getting angry to the point of rage. It is not a comfortable or normal state for me... I usually end up crying when I get that angry, which just embarrasses me (and why tears cause me mortification is a whole other story). Rage can be useful though. It can get me up off my keister and moving. It can motivate me to make a change that I have been procrastinating over. It can be a positive force. But what do I think of first when I think of rage? Well, none of it’s good. I would probably make a snap judgment that rage is a “bad” thing. Anger is not good, not okay.
I deal with anxiety issues of a crippling nature on a daily basis, and yet I have this unspoken thought in my head that there’s “no reason” to be afraid... that my fear is unfounded and not valid. Hmmm... it may be over the top and extreme, but there are reasons for my fears... they aren’t without cause. They are just extreme manifestations of very valid fears with concrete origins.
That is another point... emotions have an origin. They don’t arise from nothing. There is always a reason. It may elude me in the moment, but the cause exists. It may be that if I can trace the emotions to their causes I can see whether I can safely set them aside. Because, truly, my “negative” emotions are responses to feelings of being unsafe.
I am just as unable to label and describe my happier emotions as I am my sad or angry emotions. There is this whole, huge, beautiful dictionary full of words to choose from... and there is generally a specific word available to describe a given emotional state ( and if English doesn’t contain what I need then there’s any number of other languages to delve into)... but I am generally going to pick from a pool of less than 20 words to describe my emotions! That is so limiting! And it’s because I am either judging my emotions as “bad” and trying to suppress them, or feel they are not valid... so I have learned to limit the expression and experience of my emotional life.
It does me no favors. It does no one any favors. I am learning though. It is a process. Just as I had to practice nutrition tracking, and hold myself accountable to exercise my body to get physically healthier, just so I have to practice finding the appropriate and accurate words to describe my emotions, and hold myself accountable to feel my emotions without judgment (though with an awareness of any possible consequences for actions resulting from actions based on those emotions!).
I believe it will make me a healthier person on an emotional level and help curb my tendencies toward emotional eating. If I can pause and say “I feel XYZ, and that is okay”... without resorting to eating a pan of brownies to suppress those feelings that will be a definite win!
I have worked hard to get to and stay at a weight that feels appropriate for my health needs (and desires), and I have been enjoying the results of being a “lesser” woman lol... but my journey feels incomplete without addressing the innermost self as well. I know I had to deal with some of this in the process of losing weight and getting healthier, but not in this depth... and I think this an important piece in order for me to be one of those long term maintainers...
Anyways... I hope you have a great day, and enjoy your Sunday!