How to Lose Emotional Weight?
What do you do to care for your physical health?
If you’re like most, you do several things to care for your physical health daily.
You brush your teeth, wash your face, perhaps even eat something green.
You do these things for immediate and long term physical benefits.
When you brush your teeth you have the immediate benefit of fresh breath with the long term prevention of decay.
When you wash your face you have the immediate benefit of removing environmental toxins from your skin with the long term benefit of clear and healthy skin.
When you eat some vegetables you have the short term benefit of a smoothly operating GI tract with the long term benefit of less disease and illness.
What do you do to care for your emotional health?
What was that?
If you’re anything like most, your answer may be a big “huh? Care for my emotional health?”
I didn’t even think it was possible to care for my emotional health. I felt very out of control with my emotions. I did not think I had much control over how I felt. I believed emotions and my feelings happened to me. I went through most of my life thinking other people made me happy or sad. That the events in my life drove my emotions. If someone had asked what I do to care for my emotional health I actually might have gotten a bit snarky. I had no control over my emotions. They just happened to me, right?
As I’ve discussed, the thought model changed my life in the same way electricity changed people’s lives in the 1800s. Truly. It was like a lightbulb went off in my brain when I realized that emotions didn’t just happen to me; that I wasn’t a victim of what was happening in my life. I actually had control over how I felt! YAHOO!!
So, while we may cognitively know that we have control over our emotions, do we act on it? We may know our food affects our weight. Do we act on it? We know the thoughts we think drive how we feel. What do we do about it. We know the sleep we get powers our energy and effectiveness for the day, what do we do about it?
Emotional Weight Workout
How do we set ourselves up for emotional success? Do we even know how to lose the emotional baggage we’ve been carrying around? How do we set ourselves up for success?
The first step of your emotional workout is awareness. What are you thinking to feel that emotional heaviness? What is weighing you down? Similar to how the first step to weight loss is becoming aware of what foods you’re eating that are weighing you down, begin to ask yourself what you’re thinking to feel the way you’re feeling.
The problem for most of us is we don’t see our thoughts as separate from us. We believe we are our thoughts. We truly believe that what we think about ourselves and our situation is true.
The real truth is that thoughts are just sentences in our head. That’s it. They’re often placed there from someone in the past: a parent, a sibling, a critical teacher. They’re not who we really are. They are thoughts that we have decided to think unconsciously, similar to eating unconsciously. It’s time to take our hand out of the bag of chips and pay attention.
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Last week’s interview with Laura Coe helped me link how I care for my physical self with my emotional self.
I know that if I eat certain foods, I will feel worse.
I also know that if I think certain thoughts, I will feel worse.
If I focus on what is not going well in my life or what rude things people have said to me recently, I will feel worse.
I know that if I eat certain foods, I will feel better.
Likewise, if I think certain thoughts I will feel better.
If I focus on what is going well in my life and what wonderful things people have done for me lately, I feel significantly better.
It’s truly the difference between choosing an apple over an ice cream sundae.
I know, I hear you….It’s not easy.
Our bodies are set up to crave sugars and white flour.
Kale does not taste as good as fresh-baked a cookie.
The truth is the same emotionally.
Our world is a noisy and busy place. We are rewarded for being strung out. Busy-ness is praised. Our minds are loud and aggressive.
It’s hard to sit in stillness. It’s hard to take responsibility for our feelings instead of blaming others.
As I said in a recent post, it’s time to re-wire our brain.
We are not here to live a mediocre, “okay” life.
You are here for more.
While it may not be “easy”, it is simple.
How often do you have to talk yourself into brushing your teeth?
Washing your face?
Showering when dirty?
You have made it a habit.
You can do the same thing for your emotional health.
Start with the basics.
Step one? Awareness.
Becoming a watcher of your mind.
Your job is to observe.
Watch which thoughts you’re focusing on.
Pay attention to how you feel when you think those thoughts in the same way you can pay attention to how your body feels when you eat certain foods.
Begin to separate yourself from your thoughts.
One of the best tools for this step? A thought log. Yep, in the same way a food log is the most effective way to lose physical weight; a thought log is the most effective tool at losing emotional weight.
For this week, commit to keeping a thought log. Why? Because you will more in control by next week.
Get out a piece of paper and start to think about what you think about. What are you telling yourself most days?
What do you criticize yourself about?
What do you criticize others for?
How do you feel most days?
What are you thinking?
Which of those are junk food thoughts?
Are you more of an inner critic or a perfectionist?
When you’re in a bad mood, bring attention to what you’re telling yourself.
What are you telling yourself when you’re walking around?
Most of us can say our diet falls derails apart when around sugar or savory yet we aren’t as aware of which thoughts derail us. Start to lose that emotional heaviness by reflecting on what you think about.
Just Do It
As with an exercise workout, your brain will at first rebel. Our brain’s motivational triad likes efficiency which means it likes to keep things the same (regardless of how it makes you feel!) This week your job is to just do it. Start writing down what you’re thinking. Start watching what your brain is telling you. Start paying attention to how you feel and what you’re thinking when you feel that way. If you do this, I promise you will feel more in control of your emotions. Awareness is a powerful tool. It’s the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness. It is our power as humans: homo sapiens sapiens. We have the ability to think about what we’re thinking about. Are you using that power?
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