In this week’s post I talk about ways to tell if you use your body to cope with emotions and what you can do about it.

* Life gets really hard. Things don’t go your way.

* People hurt you and betray you.

* Work sucks.

* Your relationship is suffering.

* School feels overwhelming.

* Adulting never stops and everyday it is the same boring “adult” chores.

* You feel stressed, worried, and overwhelmed. It is like you are juggling balls of fire (and you have no idea how to juggle) and if you drop one ball everything will go up in flames.

You are not sure how to handle all the upsetting emotions. It just feels hopeless, like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You have tried different things to relax and cope. You have tried yoga, prayer, talking to your support, organization, baths, everything but you still feel bad. You still feel like you are drowning. You feel helpless.

It can seem so challenging to deal with all these upsetting emotions. You ask yourself “what do I do?” And you can’t find the answer. You just want to feel better. So you stuff the emotions, because if they are stuffed they seem more manageable.

But then you start to feel bad about your body. You start to notice areas of your body you are not happy with. You feel fat. You notice your belly, your butt, your thighs, and feel very uncomfortable. You feel like you have some power and control over this. You realize you CAN DO something about your body.

People always say exercise and healthy eating are good stress relievers.

This is true, however, if you are like the women I work with in my private practice, this quickly goes too far. Rather than sit and face the intense emotions of loneliness, inadequacy, frustration, and overwhelm you are feeling you focus on changing your body. Exercise and healthy eating become your way of coping. Using it as an option is fine, but using it as a way to avoid feeling intense feelings is not fine.

As you work hard to change your body you avoid really facing and dealing with some very intense emotions. In order to overcome feeling bad you have to feel it. Avoiding it just causes the intensity of the emotions to grow, causing you to feel worse about yourself. So no matter how much you diet, or train, you are not happy or satisfied. You just feel worse about yourself, causing you to want to diet and train harder. Thus the vicious cycle of shame, self-hatred, and dissatisfaction begins.

I am not discouraging you from healthy eating and working out (these are wonderful tools) but I am encouraging you to look at how you deal with your emotional upset. I am asking you to consider allowing yourself to feel your emotions.

~ Cry
~ Yell/Scream
~ Throw things
~ Feel anxious and worried

You feel something because something happened. You are not WRONG for feeling what you feel. Your feelings are NOT BAD. They are totally OK and JUSTIFIED. You have a right to feel the way you do and you have the right to express the emotion.

Today I want you to try to notice how you feel. Don’t judge it. Realize you are human and all human emotion is OK. Name the emotion and allow the thoughts in your head to float by. Imagine each thought as sitting on a fluffy cloud in a bright blue sky. See the thought float by without judging it or analyzing it. Just let it be.

When we fight to reduce or avoid emotion we make it worse. I want to challenge you to accept it and let it be. Know you are enough, just as you are right now. You have the resources and the tools to be OK.