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Fear vs Contentment

There are powerful emotions that may drive you to overeat. For those of us who tend to internalize emotions, denial, fear, futility and shame pack a self-punishing wallop. Rather than turning them inward, your choices for dealing with these negative emotions are:

  1. Allow yourself to feel them instead of push them away
  2. Confront them
  3. Create new habits to replace a destructive coping mechanism (in our case, turning to food).

Buckle up. This ain’t easy. Especially when it comes to fear.

I learned to cope with chronic anxiety (I use the terms fear, worry, dread, anxiety, and apprehension interchangeably, recognizing that my use is common vernacular, not clinically spot-on) by stuffing it down with food.

When I committed to losing weight, changing my eating and exercise habits forever, I had to figure out new ways to deal with my fears.

I use all three strategies above. That is, I sit with my fear sometimes and just experience it. This is my least favorite new coping skill because it’s still very uncomfortable for me. But I’ve learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Secondly, I confront the fear; I push outside of my emotional comfort zone by facing the triple Ds (derision, disapproval and disappointing others). I face my fear of public scrutiny and ridicule by talking about my struggle with obesity. I allow for the possibility of disappointing people by refusing to be last on my own priority list.

Finally, I create new habits to replace my former coping mechanism (using food inappropriately).

Here’s where most of the growth comes in.

My new coping mechanisms include reaching out to others, not to talk about my fears so much as just to create connections. As humans, we crave connectedness. When we internalize our emotions we isolate ourselves and worse, we deny ourselves the opportunity to connect to others.

Another effective coping mechanism? Having fun! Our lives are hectic and jammed full of commitments. It sounds so simple, but we forget what it’s like to just cut loose and have fun sometimes.

Exercise isn’t just about the calorie burn or even stress reduction. My workouts are a kick-ass good time! I’ve discovered that workouts can be physically and mentally challenging as well as exhilarating and tons of fun.

I know there’s a workout in your future that you’ll have a blast doing too!

It’s natural to think that the opposite of fear is courage. And it’s true, it takes a lot of courage to face your fears and explore new, healthy ways to deal with them.

But courage is borne of contentment.

Contentment comes from knowing that you’re good enough, just the way you are. In my case, even in the face of derision, disapproval and potentially disappointing others.

If, like me, you’re conditioned to turn to food when you’re afraid (or anxious or stressed) you may always be inclined toward those feelings.

But it doesn’t mean that you’re condemned to the behavior.

Emotional eating is a learned behavior. It’s time to unlearn it.

You’re not imagining it; losing weight is really hard. But it gets easier. And you’re so worth it!

Let’s go get it!

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