Article Contributed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC ~ CEO & Founder of Eating Disorder Hope
Feelings matter. Our emotions give us valuable information about ourselves and perceptions of our environment. Failing to acknowledge and appreciate feelings means missing out on important signals about what we need and want. It often seems easier to push aside our feelings and forge ahead with the demands of the day, our life, and our responsibilities. This may be practical in the short term, but deep feelings of grief, anger, abandonment and a whole host of other uncomfortable feelings, need to be honored and appropriately expressed in order to be a well adjusted person. Choosing to ignore feelings often leads to tension, stress, addiction, eating disorders, and worse.
Learning to tolerate uncomfortable feelings is the beginning of emotional maturity. So, how exactly does one “sit with their feelings” you might ask? This involves a willingness to honor our inner selves, our heartfelt emotions, needs and desires. To be open to listening to the feelings and allowing oneself to express uncomfortable feelings. Further, the expression of these feelings can be done in many ways: speaking with a therapist, talking with a close friend or family member, journaling, writing letters (that may or may not ever be sent), identifying where one feels the emotion ~ stomach? heart? shoulders? Beating on a pillow, painting, drawing, etc.
In our fast-paced and accomplishment-driven society, it can seem indulgent and silly to waste time on such trivial matters as feelings. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Our authentic self, with all of our God-given gifts and talents, blooms only when we are holistically integrating our feelings into our awareness and honoring the soul.
Remember… feelings really do matter. Take a moment to slow down and listen to your heart. It is a wise investment of time and energy to acknowledge, accept and express your feelings. Those suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder almost always benefit from becoming more aware of their feelings to develop their eating disorder coping skills.
Expressing Feelings & Eating Disorders: Difficulty expressing feelings associated with eating disorders(About.com)
Dealing with feelings when you are overweight: Geared toward kids and teenagers, very helpful ideas for dealing with feelings(Kidshealth.org).
How to Express Feelings Appropriately: Excellent two page document written by Dr. Matthews of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service(www.ces.ncsu.edu)
Developing Empathy in Families: excellent guide for families seeking to develop more effective communication and relational skills. Written by Dr. Steven Bavolek of Family Development Resources, Inc. (Nurturingparenting.com)
Last reviewed: By Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 7, 2016
Page last updated June 7, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com, Help for Eating Disorders