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Guide - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Emotions 1 - Emotions 2 - Emotions 3


"Demons are like obedient dogs; they come when they are called. - Remy de Gourmont"

What is the monster?

The monster in this case is the shadow, or the place inside we don't want to see and the feelings we don't want to feel.

It is usually so far outside our awareness that to turn and even acknowledge that it is there can be terrifying. It feels so big and powerful and permanent and we fear it will engulf us and make us miserable forever. We likely inherited it during childhood and we coped by creating a defense to protect us from seeing/feeling it. As we got older we created multiple defenses that layered on top of each other to block it out of our consciousness, and stop us from accessing it.

Young children have a difficult time managing their emotions even with the most caring and loving parents. If the environment was less than ideal - which it was for most people to various degrees - then on top of their everyday emotions, they (children) have even more feelings to deal with that are not only unpleasant but unbearable. Over time they become a monster (the monster/shadow) and are way too overwhelming for a child to deal with and so children subsequently cut themselves off from simply feeling, and do this in a variety of ways.

Intense shame, rage, sadness, yearning, loss, anxiety, vulnerability and grief are all emotions that can make up the shadow.

- Shame can come from feeling ugly, damaged and inadequate.

- Rage results from neglect/abuse/tyranny and a powerless to do anything but watch as it happened.

- Sadness can come from being lonely from having parents who were not attuned to the child.

- Yearning for the nurturing and acceptance that was never given, or given sparsely. It can be as intense as the yearning for water in the desert.

- Loss because a vital part of one's development is gone forever.

- Grief which follows loss.

Most adults, let alone children, can't bear all THAT. So we defend against it by;

- Cutting ourselves off from our feelings
- Always keeping busy and never settling down enough to feel.
- Distracting ourselves with TV or books or social engagements.
- Smoking, drugs, sex, gambling or overeating to take us away from the feelings the monster has waiting for us.

(If you look closely at people, anyone really, you'll notice this behavior to some degree in most if not all of them too.)

It is very hard to face those feelings.

1- Because they feel so overwhelming! Many people who develop anxiety do so because they suddenly become more aware of these shadow feelings and their defenses aren't holding up anymore as well as they used to (most have no clue why they are anxious.) It can feel like too much to handle.

2- Because they are EXTREMELY unpleasant. They are abhorrent to the point of making people nauseous, ill and feeling very dark and depressed. Who wants that?

3- They feel permanent. As if accepting these feelings will have one stuck in that darkness forever and there will be no more joy or 'lightness' to be had in their lives. They will submit to them and lose control which is scary and so unacceptable.

The Shadow of Emotional Eating

Why would anyone voluntarily turn toward those feelings and accept that fate? It feels like it would be much better to deal with them in almost ANY OTHER WAY than to face them.

That's what the monster is.

This is what is so difficult about emotional eating. You are not weak; you are not lacking willpower. You are up against a monster that most people can't handle - including those insensitive people who make fat jokes and who look down upon overweight people (and most everyone else too.)

This monster is always with you, plaguing you in every aspect of your life. He will never leave you alone and cannot be made to go away or ignored for too long.

Unless he is dealt with he will continue to take the 'life' out of your life for as long as you let him. He won't tire and has no sympathy for you.

You have no choice but to deal with him or continue to suffer the consequences, which only get worse with time.

The monster needs to be dealt with a bit at a time and that means 'taking' the discomfort, those feelings, a bit at a time and moving through them slowly, and often with help from books, therapists and other resources.

One of the simplest and easiest ways when starting out is to listen in and focus on your feelings while you're are about to, or are in the middle of, using your coping strategy. For emotional eaters, that means when we are past the point of eating for our health, well-being and for meeting the energy requirements of the day, and are now eating to distract, soothe or to fill a need.

When you are at this point and are about to reach for some junk food, take a few minutes before eating it and ask yourself the following questions.

1- I don't need this right now so what am I getting out of it?

Stay focused and see what comes up

If you can identify and come into contact with something, say a feeling of emptiness, try going a step further. Stay with it and let yourself feel that emptiness just for a minute. You don't have to bear it for long and there is nothing else you have to do but meet it for now.

Take a mental note of your experience.

2- What happens if I don't eat this?

Again stay focused on the experience and try to articulate what you're thinking and feeling.

3- Will eating this food give me what I am after?

In the short term likely. But after the pleasure has dissipated, then what?

4- Imagine yourself eating it and then after you have finished eating it in your mind, ask the next question, 'Now what?'

Those are helpful questions that, if you asked yourself each time you are about to indulge, would give you more insight and therefore power, into taking control of your eating and your weight.

After going through the questions, DO NOT beat yourself up for then going ahead and eating the junk food. It doesn't do you any good. In fact you should try to enjoy the food as much as you can since you are eating it anyway, and at the same time try to develop a curiosity toward the whole process.


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Guide - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Emotions 1 - Emotions 2 - Emotions 3