Why You Should Never Ignore Your Emotions: The Importance of Reflection

Female sitting on counter upset eating from tub of ice cream Image: Pexels - Alena Darmel

Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success — Richard Carlson

Why is it that we often save the practice of reflection for only one time of year: The New Year? We look back to see what we’ve accomplished and set goals for the upcoming year, but the truth is that reflection, as Richard Carlson aptly notes, is very powerful: It can and should be used a lot more often and for a lot more than just new years goals.

When is the last time you reflected on your emotions?

Emotions are our reactions to circumstances and situations (cues) in our lives. We don’t really think too much about them — they’re just “there”. Interestingly, the same circumstance can cause differing emotions in different people. Our own emotional reaction to similar circumstances may also vary depending upon things like our current sleep patterns and/or stress levels.

There is significant importance in reflecting upon our emotions so that we can begin to understand how and why we react the way we do, and then we can decide if we want to continue the habit patterns that often result from our emotions.

It’s a really insightful tool particularly as it relates to our emotional relationship with food. So many of us turn to food to deal with unwanted or uncomfortable emotions. In the short term, the temporary feeling of relief from any negative emotion that we get from food feels good. But it’s so fleeting, and oftentimes ultimately leads to further negative emotions of guilt, shame, and judgment.

Woman sitting and eating a cake upset.

It’s important to remember that we are always doing the best we can with the tools we currently have. Food tends to be a go-to tool for us because of its accessibility and relative low cost — especially for processed foods (because let’s face it — we’re not emotionally eating with broccoli and chicken)! It’s such a difficult emotional crutch because, unlike any other disordered behavior tools like smoking, drinking, or drugs, we can’t just “quit” cold turkey. We have to eat numerous times per day. Which makes our relationship with food that much trickier.

When we become more aware of what we do and why, we’re in a much better position to take different actions. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to simply sit WITH our emotions — uncomfortable as it often can be.

Reflecting on your emotions (and your resulting actions) should be done when you’re in a healthy state of mind: an inquisitive, curious state of mind to be precise. It can allow you to better understand your own triggers, thought processes, and how you respond. It can help you to come up with better tools and more helpful practices.

One of the best tools for reflection is journaling or using a food and mood journal (such as Ate). It can help you make those connections between emotions and choices/behaviors that you may not be aware of otherwise. How do you respond to feeling lonely, stressed, or anxious? What about happy, joyful, and celebratory? It’s also a great tool for helping you to understand what IS working well, and you can always double down on that!

Once you understand what emotions often lead to patterns of behavior that you no longer wish to continue with, you can work on substituting healthier, more empowered reactions. Know that change can be difficult, and reaching out for help is always a great option.

You do not have to “do healthy” on your own. In fact, research tells us that you are much more likely to succeed if you have accountability layered in.

Let’s face it — healthy eating and healthy lifestyles can be boring and require a lot of patience. Having the support of an accountability coach and a community of like-minded individuals on your team can make all the difference. Share paths with a practicing holistic nutritionist, receive one-on-one coaching regarding your meals, and be connected on the app with my other clients and Ambassadors. You will have fun, stay motivated, and feel inspired!

Find out more by visiting my website www.stacyyates.com

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