Associate With Emotions And Body
Many of us eat when there is an absence of hunger. We may eat because it is “time” to eat or in response to our emotions, such as to celebrate, when we are angry, lonely, sad, frustrated. In my last article I discussed tuning in to your body whenever you find yourself thinking about or searching for food. It is also essential to manage your thinking which can either motivate or demotivate you towards your goal. These two components associate with emotions and manage thinking to lose weight are essential if the loss is to be permanent.

An important step to identifying the function of your eating habits is to keep a food diary for a number of weeks so that you can get a better understanding of your eating habits.

There are a number of components which need to be logged in the diary:-

Write down everything you eat and drink
Eat Mindfully this means whenever you eat give all of your attention to eating; Do not eatg when engaging in any other activity such as watching tv, reading, driving your car or working on the computer.
Rate level of Hunger on a scale of 1 – 10 with 1 being not very hungry and 10 being very hungry.
Indicate whether you are alone or with others – you might notice that you tend to eat more when you are alone. This could be due to boredom, loneliness or even shame to be seen eating
Emotions – note what you are feeling before and after eating
Body sensations after eating – notice whether there is an absence of hunger, whether you are full. If you can feel the food in your stomach then you have eaten too much.

Keeping a diary of everything you eat and drink will help you to ascertain if your eating habits are driven by emotions. You might notice that you dissociate or detach from feelings that are uncomfortable.

To explain dissociated and associated thinking styles you might like to try this exercise – Think of a conversation you had recently . As you think about this conversation, pay attention to how you are thinking about it. For example, are you seeing, hearing and feeling the situation as if you are in your own body and you are re-experiencing it now? Or are you experiencing the situation as if you are outside of your own body – seeing yourself “over there” as an observer? The experience of being in your own body is referred to as associated and the experience of being outside of your body is known as dissociated. Both states are valuable. There are times when associating are the best option, for example if we want to engage our emotions, create a state of motivation or show vulnerability. However, people who are able to “keep their heads” in the midst of a crisis can usually dissociate.

In a dissociated state you will be detached from the feelings and it becomes a habit so embedded in our neural pathways that as soon as we are uncomfortable we automatically suppress our feelings and self-soothe with negative habits such as eating too much of unhealthy food, drinking alcohol, gambling or taking drugs. All these habits make us feel better momentarily but do not get to the source of the discomfort.

By setting the intent to practice associating with feelings, over time you understand yourself better and what used to be unconscious reactivity becomes conscious and you can choose to soothe yourself in a way that serves you better and keeps you on track towards achieving your goal.

We can also ascertain whether we focus on our desired goal or on the challenges that may be faced in order to get there. To help you understand what I mean think of a goal you have for yourself right now. Be aware of how you are thinking about this goal. Are you imagining what it is like to achieve the goal, seeing, hearing and feeling the experience of having it? Or are you aware of what stops you and what you don’t want? For example, if you are thinking of being slim and fit do you imagine yourself wearing lovely clothes, receiving compliments, feeling confident, or do you think of the food you want to avoid and the weight you want to lose? What is in your mind? Your ability to think about what you really want is known as towards thinking. Your ability to think about what you don’t want is known as away from thinking.

In the context of goal setting, the principle is that what we think is what we get. Our mind does not recognize the “not” part of a problem-centered statement. For example, if you tell yourself not to each chocolate you are effectively programming yourself to eat chocolate. If you think about the benefits and rewards of being slim then the likelihood is that this is what you will begin to achieve.

Read more about thinking patterns in NLP At Work by Sue Knight. Visit her website www.sueknight.com

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