There are a good number of us who are truly sensitive. We can be born this way, but we can also develop this intuitive sense as a means of self-protection due to difficult experiences in childhood such as mental, physical, emotional abuse, trauma, alcoholism, or parental abandonment.
Basically, we feel A LOT.
A good number of us have used food as a way to escape what feels like tension and chaos around us. This is not traditional emotional eating, it’s empathic eating. I got that little tidbit from the advance copy of a book called Weight Loss For People Who Feel Too Much, by Colette Baron-Reid . She contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reading it before it is published.
I’ve only just started, but was so taken with this distinction that I wanted to share it with you.
Traditional emotional eating is when we eat in response to our own feelings. Empathic eating is when we eat in response to other people’s feelings that we have taken on. Add to that the anxiety and tension we carry and we not only overeat and gain weight, we find it hard to release it. Weight becomes both a psychic and physiological issue.
I know I’ve said this before, so please bear with me as I say it again: If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I’ve struggled with anxiety. It was at an all-time high in terms of intensity about two years ago just prior to two major life events that I had no way of knowing would happen.
It’s kind of freaky to think that my body/mind/spirit has the ability to react to future events. And looking back on my life, I know that wasn’t the first time. I am what Colette calls “clairsentient.” I have an intuitive ability to sense the emotional temperature of my environment, and it allows me to be empathetic (open to feel others’ feelings, as well as my own).
Understanding this about myself gives me yet another tool with which to keep myself healthy.
I will be writing more about this book and will be featuring an interview with Colette on my blog. In the meantime, here is an abbreviated version of the four steps she outlines in her book:
1. Speak Your Truth. Acknowledge your struggle with weight and the fact that what you’ve done in the past never worked very well or for very long. (This is at the core of my self-acceptance practice and it’s part of what I teach in my Acceptance Whispering program).
2. Own Your Truth. It’s one thing to acknowledge intellectually what you’ve been denying for a long time. It’s another thing to emotionally accept it. Colette provides specific techniques and exercises (including Emotional Freedom Technique, which I love) for setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.
3. Reclaim Your Power To Choose. The only way to put an end to old mindless eating habits is to develop self-awareness and self-compassion. Self-love is the key to reclaiming your power to make conscious choices in the moment. (And, as has been my experience, when I practice self-acceptance regularly, making positive choices comes easily and naturally…no white knuckles!)
4. Reconnect Without Losing Yourself. When you live in fear and judge yourself harshly, it dims your light: you feel depressed, weighted down, and unmotivated. In this step, you’re going to find the courage to stop making yourself small and hiding your brilliance and beauty. (Key to this is understanding the role of your thoughts, something else that is part of my Acceptance Whispering practice.)
In the meantime, here are some ways I have learned to not only protect my sensitive self, but also to also allow myself to thrive, create, and live my best life:
Avoid television, especially the news. It is designed to create tension, to keep you coming back for more, and to make you feel you can’t trust yourself.
Notice how you feel around various people (both in person and online). Are you relaxed and breathing slowly and moderately deeply? Are your eyes and throat soft? Or do you feel a quiver in yours stomach? Is your throat tight? Are you breathing shallowly? Are your eyes squinched? Are you feeling anxious or tense without knowing why?
Heed these inner cues. Notice whether what you are feeling is yours or someone else’s.
Spend time alone to recharge.
*Lyric from Jewel’s song “Sensitive”
Our body is a mirror that reflects to us our own beliefs about our selves. Seeing our body as the enemy – because it “should” look different, or because it’s not perfect, or because we feel repelled by what we see in the mirror – prompts us to fight it, to reject it, to abuse and shame ourselves for it. We develop an adversarial relationship with our body, and feel victimized by it. We take turns then shaming, blaming, trying to fix, control, or hide (and deny) it. Explain to me how anything but suffering can come from a relationship like that with our body? ~ Lynne Forrest