METABOLIZING EMOTIONS

Did you know that we have the absolute ability to deal with any negative emotion?

How you ask?

By metabolizing them just like we metabolize our food.

Compare the physiology of digestion with that of emotions:

Digestion starts when our hand puts food in our mouth. Immediately the gut generates a cascade of enzymes to break the food down so the vascular system can transmit the glucose and fatty acids to our cells. This process is autonomic and unconscious.

Emotions are the outcome of brain thought transmission throughout our body. Our brain puts a thought into our mind and neurons use default and habitual neurotransmitter pathways we best describe as “emotions” to distribute the thought throughout our body. This process is more than 90% autonomic and unconscious.

For example:

• The circumstance is a family member says, “Come on, I made this food special for you and if you love me you will eat it!”
• We generate a default thought: “If I don’t eat this food they will be unhappy.”
• This thought automatically generates a feeling of guilt because we didn’t plan to eat the food. In our body guilt feels like heaviness around the heart, restrictive, vague, and persistent. This is the physical manifestation of “guilt” neurotransmitters moving through our body.

Negative emotions like guilt feel uncomfortable and our brain wants to avoid pain. So our brain goes to work to feel better and metabolize this negative emotion by BUFFERING:

• Our action is to eat the food. This produces the default sugar rush our body has relied on in the past to stimulate the brain pleasure center and quiet the feeling of guilt.
• The result is that we overeat and gain weight.

Here is an alternate way to metabolize that same circumstance with different thinking:

• The circumstance is a family member says, “Come on, I made this food special for you and if you love me you will eat it!”
• We can make a choice to think instead: “I can care about this person without eating their food.”
• This thought makes us feel responsible. We are taking care of our health and still showing the other person we appreciate their consideration.

Then we use our brain to practice a healthier way of feeling better:

• Our action is to not eat the food and say “No thank you” in a polite way.
• The result is we do not get the sugar rush, over eat and gain weight. Instead we allow the neurotransmission cascade of the emotion “responsible” to build in our body and push away the feeling of guilt. We show ourselves that the guilt feeling doesn’t last long and is no big deal; it doesn’t need food to make it go away.

We can learn how to metabolize a negative emotion by ALLOWING the “guilt” feeling to first exist then dissipate without buffering it with food. Amazingly, we can do this with any emotion that is leading us to overeat.

This takes practice. Undoing unwanted habitual neurotransmitter pathways takes time and repetition. Time and repetition is how they were formed in the first place.

Let’s be aware of our emotions and practice not buffering them with food this week!

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