I couldn’t ignore it.
I was eating potato chips in front of the TV four nights in a row.
Monday, it was while watching Dancing With The Stars.
Tuesday, it was while watching The Voice.
Wednesday, it was while watching Survivor.
Thursday, it was while watching How to Get Away With Murder.
By Friday, I felt physically gross and bloated.
Instead of being mad at myself or judging myself, I chose to be compassionate. I decided to do some journaling to find out what was going on.
I asked myself two simple questions. The first one was: “What feeling are you trying not to feel?”
The answer was “sadness.”
The second question was: “Why are you feeling sad?”
Then the floodgates opened. I was feeling deep sadness because these are the shows I used to watch with my Mom. She passed away nine months ago, and I miss her every day. Now that these shows are back on the air for the fall season, it feels a little lonely watching them by myself. I miss discussing the performances with her. I miss her reactions, her laughter, and hearing her opinions. I just miss her presence in the room. My goodness! No wonder I was eating chips in front of the TV night after night. I didn’t want to feel how sad I was. I didn’t want to acknowledge the heartbreak of her absence. The crunch of the potato chips was effective in temporarily distracting me from feeling my feelings.
But the feelings we try to suppress are still there. They remain until we address them. And we can’t address them until we are aware of them. That’s why asking those same questions I asked myself is so helpful. Sometimes just the awareness of what we’re feeling and why is all we need to shift it – and also shift the suppressing behavior that accompanies it (overeating, overspending, overdrinking, etc.).
Once I understood why I was doing what I was doing, I chose to have a big cry and let it all out. Last night, I was able to watch The Voice without the desire for any snacks. I still missed my mom, but my hands were now free to clap for the contestants instead of being elbow-deep inside of a potato chip bag.
If you are noticing a habit or pattern that you think doesn’t truly serve you, take a moment and ask yourself these questions:
“What feeling am I trying not to feel?”
“Why am I feeling _____?”
Once you become aware of why, know that you don’t need to try to change it right away. Focusing on trying to “fix it” can just be another way to avoid your feelings. Instead, take a deep breath and let yourself acknowledge your discovery. Sit with it and treat yourself with compassion as you come to understand what was driving your actions. Again, sometimes awareness is all you need for the feeling to dissipate and for the suppressing behavior to end on its own.