How to Spot Emotional Eating and What To Do About It

Picture this: You hit the snooze button one too many times, had a last minute project thrown at you at work, and then sat in an hour of frustrating evening traffic.

Finally home, you breathe a sigh of relief, head into the kitchen, and decide you deserve a snack after the day you’ve had. Maybe you reach for a few crackers, then a bit of chocolate.

Before you know it, you’ve munched your way through the entire kitchen without eating a proper meal. You’re stuffed, ashamed, and wondering what the heck just happened?!

Sound familiar?

It’s called emotional eating, which is eating for any other reason besides actual physical hunger, fuel or nourishment.

3 Trademarks of Emotional Eating

  • Binging – usually on high-sugar and carbohydrate-rich comfort foods (i.e. junk food). How many people do you know who reach for carrots or broccoli when they’re upset?
  • Mindlessly eating – you’re not aware of what or how much you’re eating or how those foods are making your body feel. You’re usually mentally checked out while eating them.
  • Eating to numb, soothe, please, relax, or reward self, i.e. “I had a bad day and deserve it” kind of thinking. Eating during these times provides temporary relief, but often leaves you feeling worse than where you started.

I’ve had my own experiences with emotional eating. When I first started my business, I’d reward myself after a long day’s work by walking to my favourite coffee shop for a peanut butter cookie. Pretty soon one cookie turned into two, and before long I’d skip the walk and drive there to get my evening treat.

What started out as a fun habit and a little treat for myself soon became the highlight of my evening, and I’d be moody if I didn’t get to reward myself with my favourite cookie. Sometimes I’d even want to skip dinner and just have cookies instead. That’s when I knew I had to take a step back and reevaluate this habit.

Looking back, it wasn’t so much about the cookie as it was a chance for me to check out and relax. When I set better boundaries around my time and allowed myself to designate my evenings to personal time I stopped feeling like I needed to mark “my time” with a treat and the habit was easy to break.

The trouble with emotional eating is it overrides your body’s natural hunger cycle and can promote things like:

  • weight gain
  • an increase in your risk for inflammation and chronic disease
  • create an unhealthy relationship between you and food
  • lead to more dangerous types of disordered eating

What Triggers Emotional Eating?

Even though it’s called “emotional eating” because people often reach for food to cope with their feelings, there are a lot of other non-hunger reasons that can prompt you to eat.

Some common non-hunger reasons include:

  • Uncomfortable emotions, like anger, guilt, fear, and sadness
  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Need to feel pleasure and/or comfort

Six Tips to Help You Get a Handle on Emotional Eating

If any of those scenarios sound familiar, know that you’re not alone. Emotional eating affects a lot of people at one point in their lives.

Here are six great tips to stop emotional eating in its tracks:

1. Have a non-food outlet to process uncomfortable feelings

  • Try journaling, exercising, or talking to a trusted friend or coach

2. Manage stress

  • Exercise, meditation, deep breathing, getting enough sleep, and not taking on more than you can realistically handle can help decrease stress levels.

3. Recognize boredom

  • Call a friend, take a walk, pick up a book, or tackle a DIY project or hobby you’ll enjoy when you know boredom is likely to strike.

4. Practice self-care

  • Set aside time to take care of your needs. Tune in to your body to notice if you need to rest, move, stretch, or have some fun, then follow your body’s lead.

5. Practice mindful eating

  • Avoid distractions at meals. Your focus should be on the food in front of you.
  • Eat slowly, chew, and savour each bite. This helps give your body time to receive the signal from your brain when it’s full.
  • Stop eating when you feel full.

6. Eat a balanced diet

  • The majority of your diet should be nutrient-dense whole foods.
  • Allow for occasional treats and indulgences so you don’t feel deprived.
  • Include protein, fibre, and healthy fat at each meal to promote satiety.

BONUS: Reward yourself with something other than food. Often we use food as the focal point for celebrations, but this can be problematic if you’re prone to emotional eating. Instead focus on a fun activity, connecting with someone you care about, or doing something you enjoy, which will take the focus off food.


RECIPE:

These energy balls feel like an indulgent snack, but are made from whole food ingredients and contain a bit of protein, healthy fat, and fibre to help you feel satisfied.

Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Energy Balls

Ingredients

1 cup natural almond butter (or other natural nut butter)

½ cup coconut flour

½ cup ground flax seeds

¼ cup hemp hearts

½ cup dark chocolate chips

¼ cup maple syrup

Pinch of sea salt

How to prepare

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, stirring until smooth. If mixture is too thick, add 1 Tbsp. of water at a time to help the mixture come together.

2. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the mixture and use your hands to roll into a ball. Repeat with remaining mixture.

3. Store energy balls in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.


REFERENCES:

Study: Current Diabetes Reports, 2018 — Causes of Emotional Eating and Matched Treatment of Obesity

Study: Journal of Health Psychology, 2015 — Boredom proneness and emotion regulation predict emotional eating

Healthline: Mindful Eating 101 – A Beginner’s Guide

Two Overlooked Factors That Affect Your Waistline

When it comes to your overall health it’s no secret that exercise and sleep are huge factors. But did you know they both have a significant impact on your waistline?

Well, you know that exercise will help you burn off some extra calories and boost your metabolism. But sleep is also essential for your overall health and well-being, and can impact your weight.

Better to skimp on sleep and get up early to work out?

Or better to sleep in and skip the gym for another day?

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. We need exercise to sleep better but we also need sleep to exercise. And when it comes to weight management, we need both.

So let’s take a closer look at how exercise and sleep affect each other and which one takes the lead when it comes to managing your weight.

The Exercise & Sleep Connection

If you’re looking to get a better night’s sleep, it’s time to lace up those running shoes.

A study by the National Sleep Foundation found a 65% improvement in sleep quality for participants who performed 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week.

That means that something as simple as a brisk walk for 30 minutes, 5 times a week can help you feel more rested and refreshed.

Want Muscle? Get More Sleep!

If you want to see big results from your workouts, you’ve gotta catch some zzz’s!

Sleep is crucial when it comes to exercise recovery…and recovery is where the post-workout magic happens!

As we rest, our body is busy repairing the microscopic muscle tears from our last weight training session. As these muscles repair, they come back bigger and stronger; increasing your strength and boosting your metabolism.

If you’re not seeing the results you’d like from your gym sessions, the answer may be an earlier bedtime. Make sure that you’re getting adequate sleep to help your body repair and recover.

Sleep Tips:

Here are a few strategies to help you get the most out of your night’s sleep:

  • Dim the lights in your home 30 minutes or more before going to bed. This helps promote melatonin production (a sleep hormone) so it’s easier for you to fall asleep when you go to bed.
  • Sleep in total darkness. Avoid leaving the curtains open or a night light on. Even a small amount of light can affect your body’s ability to sleep soundly.
  • Aim to be in bed by 10 pm. Getting an early start to your night’s sleep ensures you get some quality rest before midnight. Studies have shown this is important for proper hormone balancing – and balanced hormones mean easier weight management.

Does lack of sleep affect gym performance?

If you’re still thinking of hitting that 6 am spin class after a late night out, you may want to reconsider.

An ACSM study showed that sleep deprived participants had a slower response time and fatigued much quicker than when they were well rested.

The study participants also reported a higher RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) and were more likely to quit their workout early.

The conclusion? This doesn’t mean that you should skip activity altogether on those groggy days. Instead consider a lower intensity activity such as walking or yoga and leave the high intensity training for days when you’re well rested.

Sleep vs Train: which one will help you button your jeans?

When it comes to weight management, both exercise and sleep are important. But if you had to focus on one thing only, it turns out sleep trumps exercise.

One study compared weight loss efforts of sleep deprived adults versus those who were fully rested. The sleep deprived group rested for only 5.5 hours while the fully rested group got a full  8.5 hrs of shut-eye.

The results? Those with limited sleep lost less body fat and more lean muscle mass.

So can you forget about exercise?

Well, no.

Exercise still has tremendous health benefits so you don’t want to quit altogether. You may need to temporarily reduce the intensity of your workouts if you’re not getting adequate rest.

Once your sleep game is strong, you can resume those higher intensity workouts and have energy to spare.

Having trouble winding down at night?

Add some sleep hormones to your diet!

In fact, did you know that it has been suggested that foods that contain naturally occurring Melatonin (dubbed the “sleep hormone”) may be a better alternative than over-the-counter supplements?

This Sleepy Time Cherry Smoothie Recipe below is made with tart cherry juice – an ingredient that contains Melatonin, and has been proven to help you sleep better. Plus, it just happens to taste pretty great too!


RECIPE:

Sleepy Time Cherry Smoothie

2 oz of pure tart cherry juice, unsweetened

1 cup of coconut milk or almond milk

½ banana (frozen adds a bit more texture)

¼ tsp cinnamon

2-3 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Sip and enjoy a better night’s sleep!

Tip: If you’re using this smoothie as a post-workout, you might want to add some protein powder to help with muscle recovery.


REFERENCES

https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/study-physical-activity-impacts-overall-quality-sleep
https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2013/12000/Does_Central_Fatigue_Explain_Reduced_Cycling_after.5.aspx
http://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/746253/insufficient-sleep-diet-obesity
https://sleepjunkies.com/tips/can-cherries-enhance-sleep-quality/

The Ultimate Guide to Self Love- Part 2

Part 2- Practices for Connecting with and Loving Yourself

In Part 1 of this guide we talked about the 5 essential steps to self-love and we also looked at what can get in the way of loving yourself.

Something that became increasingly clear to me as I delved into the concept of self-love is that sometimes it doesn’t look the way you’d expect.

I’ve been on both sides of the coaching conversation, asking and answering the question “if this were your best friend, would you treat her the same way you’re treating yourself?”

That always puts things into perspective. We like to be the heroes of our own journey. We set ourselves up to do hard tasks like carry the workload of two people, push down our feelings for the sake of being polite, or wait to eat until every family member is perfectly taken care of. When we eventually wind up exhausted, having fallen short of the goal, we take the opportunity to slather on self-judgement for what we “should” be able to accomplish.

Yet in the back of our minds we know that we’d never treat our girlfriends this way.

This extends not only to what we set out to accomplish in our careers, family and relationships, we set these high expectations for our bodies. Here’s where we get into trouble.

Loving yourself inevitably extends to loving your body. This is sticky territory for many of us, especially women who’ve grown up with impossible beauty ideals. We might be able to stand up for ourselves in relationships, but when our jeans don’t fit it can set off a domino effect of shame and judgement that eventually affects our behaviour.

I’ve seen this time and again with my clients, some of whom seem to have a great relationship with themselves, until the scale is involved.

The love we show (or don’t show) ourselves is rarely as clear as when it comes to accepting our bodies. That’s because body image is the intersection of self-image and our actions namely, eating, exercise and self-talk. When one part of the equation is lacking (often self-image) the other parts are affected as well.

Loving your life starts with loving your body

Let go of shame and self-judgment and embrace your inner confidence with the Body-Love Checklist.

For me, learning to think positively about myself and take care of my body was the starting point for self-love. These two sides of the equation rose in equal proportion to one another.

I’ve seen the same thing happen for dozens of women in my Eats & Asana program where we focus on creating a healthy relationship to our bodies and food.

Our habits with food (meal choices, whether we eat, distracted eating, etc.) reveal the way we feel about ourselves. Often the thoughts we have about our bodies are unconscious, but they’re acted out for us to see in our relationship to food. Other times we know something’s up because of things like stress eating, emotional food cravings, or yoyo dieting.

It’s important to recognize that there’s something underneath the surface of your relationship to food… it’s your relationship with yourself as a whole. There are several ways to invite more self-love into your life that will benefit your body, your mind and your health.

Habits for Connecting to Yourself

Being in touch with yourself is the first essential step to cultivating self-love. This happens through:

Mindfulness- slowing down enough to feel into your senses and get centered in the present moment is a great way to connect with yourself. Start small by making time each day to pause what you’re doing, take a few deep breaths and bring your awareness into the present moment. Mindfulness is a muscle that will grow as you prioritize connecting with yourself.

Eating well- the ultimate sign of self-respect is taking great care of your body by choosing your fuel wisely. Eating well is a daily step you can take to ensure that you have the energy, mental clarity to do the things you love to do.

Movement- instead of thinking of this as exercise, consider moving your body for the sake of joy, self-expression and experiencing the full range of what you can do. Movement can be a meditation that allows your mind to come into alignment with your senses. It’s often during physical activity (playing sports, yoga, kayaking, etc.) that you’ll receive insights from your intuition because you’ve slowed your mind down enough to listen.

Creativity- any kind of creative expression that speaks to you (singing, playing music, painting, writing, etc.) will connect you with your inner knowing. Being in creative flow feels fantastic! Getting to know this inner creative nature will help you appreciate and value your body and mind and want to treat them well.

Relaxation- this takes many forms, but what I’m talking about here goes deeper than laying on the couch watching a movie. Find an activity that allows your nervous system to calm down so it can heal. This can be meditation, yoga nidra, or going for a massage or acupuncture. The more time your nervous system can spend in the parasympathetic “rest and digest” mode, the more you’ll be connected with your true self as opposed to living in a state of reaction.

How A Self-Loving Person Acts

Sometimes it’s helpful to witness self-love in action so you can find a way it fits for you. This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are a few characteristics of self-love that you can look for in yourself. If you’re not exhibiting one of these, think about what would need to shift in order to make it happen.

A self-loving person…

  • Prioritizes needs over wants because they’re committed to the health of their long-term relationship with themselves. This includes eating and moving in a way that serves their body.
  • Sets boundaries in their work, personal relationships and with themselves. They communicate their boundaries with others and feel reassured rather than threatened when others set boundaries with them.
  • Has difficult conversations because they recognize that everyone involved will be at ease when things are clear and out in the open. While these conversations might be challenging, they’re committed to clarity in their relationships so they can be fully themselves and others can too.
  • Listens to themselves. This often takes the form of a regular practice like journaling, talking with trusted others, or spending time in contemplative thought. They listen to their thoughts and make a point to feel their emotions and use both as an internal guidance system to keep them on track.
  • Doesn’t compare themselves to others. This one can be tricky, because comparison and self-judgement can happen so naturally. But someone who’s committed to self-love will not compare themselves to others as a way to boost their ego or to justify self-judgement. Instead, they focus on paying attention to their own life and doing their best.
  • Practices forgiveness with themselves and others. This takes a deeper level of emotional awareness, which their committed to for their own health and wellbeing.
  • Speaks kindly about themselves. They treat themselves with the same respect they would treat their closest friends.
  • Prioritizes joy and fun because they know that they deserve to feel happy, joyful and to do things that light them up.

Remember, like any other relationship learning to love yourself is a process. There are always opportunities to connect with yourself in a deeper way. Stay open and be willing to take them as they come. Which self-love practices will you start with?

The Ultimate Guide to Self-Love

Part 1 – What self-love is and what gets in the way

As much as I’m into personal development and spirituality, I still shudder at things that sound super cheesy. Self-love used to be one of them.

The term “self-love” used to conjure up ideas that were somewhere between baths with rose petals in them and a modern revamp of Tupperware get-togethers called “pleasure parties.”

I’m sure the rose petal baths aren’t all that bad, but I like things that are practical. Things need to be grounded in a purpose for me to want to get involved.

I found self-love through a back door, almost unexpectedly, and it changed my life completely. What I mean is, I found self-love after being utterly unloving to myself for years.

Starting in my teens I dedicated the large majority of my waking hours to pleasing other people. I put my needs on the back-burner in an effort to be the perfect student, employee, friend, daughter, granddaughter, etc.

At the same time, I had my own ideas about perfection which included eating at appropriate times (so as not to tick off my Italian family. Mangia!) and being thin.

There are only so many meals you can reasonably skip before you realize you have a problem. I was about 5 years in before I reached out for help.

It was the combination of months of eating disorder counselling coupled with yoga that allowed me to flip the switch in my brain from self-destructive to self-loving. As hard has it might sound to have to flip that switch, after making the shift it feels harder to even imagine going back.

Committing to stop my destructive behaviour is what returned me to myself. That’s when the real work began.

Loving your life starts with loving your body

Let go of shame and self-judgment and embrace your inner confidence with the Body-Love Checklist.

What is self-love anyway?

Today, self-love is a buzz word. It’s common to suggest that a friend “love herself more,” or that we can’t truly love others until we “love ourselves.”

Depending on where you are, the idea of living with self-love might sound like the promise land of green grass on the other side of the fence.

What makes up the “fence” between you and that self-love bliss are things like self-destructive behaviour, lack of boundaries, being disconnected from your truth, and dishonoring your body.

Oh, that.

Self-love is a really big deal. It’s a crucial component to living well because it influences every choice you make – from picking a mate, choosing your career, your friendships and even the way you spend your money.

Essentially, it’s at the heart of your fulfillment. But self-love is deeper than a state of feeling good. It’s a state of appreciation for yourself that grows as you take actions that align with your physical, mental, and spiritual growth.

Self-love is dynamic. It grows through actions that develop you into a more well-rounded human. You develop self-love over time by acting with your best interest at heart. As you take actions in the interest of furthering yourself, you begin to have more compassion for yourself as a flawed-yet-perfect human being in your search for meaning and fulfillment in life.

In short, self-love isn’t something you attain, it’s something you grow.

Love is a Verb

Love is something you feel. It’s also something you do.

Recently I got a text from my partner saying, “I washed the dishes so when you get home you can relax.” The pile of dishes in the sink had been on my mind since I left the house. I read this and my heart melted.

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed with gratitude when your partner, your child, or your friend, does something with your best interest at heart you know that love isn’t just a word, it’s a verb.

Cultivating self-love is about taking consistent actions that support your wellbeing. This means standing up for what you need even when it might be inconvenient for someone else. It means setting yourself up for a great day by making a healthy lunch the night before, instead of watching an extra half hour of TV. It looks like setting boundaries and managing expectations with your boss so that you can do a great job and be an awesome Mom to your children.

You might be starting to notice something here… acting out of self-love often means doing the un-sexy but practical things that set you up for success. It doesn’t always feel good in the moment (though sometimes it does). Sometimes you need to get uncomfortable and have the sweaty conversation that will set you up to feel empowered, respected and free to be yourself in the future.

What gets in the way of self-love?

Learning to love is learning to listen. It starts with tuning in. If you don’t know what you need, how can you respond in a loving way?

It makes perfect sense to me that my path to finding self-love came through my body. More specifically, it came through learning to connect with and listen to my body, so I could meet my own needs.

In my experience, the more I pushed down my body’s signs, the more vague they became. As I got used to ignoring the signals, my body turned down its cues to a faint whisper until I was left wondering “am I hungry? No wait, thirsty? Does my stomach hurt? Maybe I’m just tired…” It became so confusing I’d often give up and stop trying to listen.

Have you ever felt restless and then found yourself in the kitchen mindlessly drinking wine, or eating anything you can get your hands on?

Here’s why that happens: when you don’t understand what your body is trying to tell you (probably that you’re tired, lonely, or need a break) you’re more likely to respond in a way that numbs the feelings that are coming up. The farther you move away from feeling, the more disconnected you become.

That’s when it’s easy for self-destructive behaviour to slip in. The more you disconnect from yourself, the less pain you feel when you do things to sabotage your wellbeing.

It can be confronting to dip your toe in the realm of self-love; because it means you have to feel. The beautiful thing about this process is that the more you commit to feeling and listening to your body, the less likely you are to mistreat yourself. It’s much harder to disrespect the Self that you’re connected to than it is to dismiss your Self when you’re disconnected.

Just as you can push down your body’s cues, the same thing can happen with your inner voice. As you learn to prioritize other things over your inner voice, your truth will get quieter and you might stop hearing it in general.

The good news is you can regain your sensitivity to your body and your inner voice.

5 Essential Steps to Self-Love

  1. Connect to yourself – practices like mindfulness, meditation and yoga can help you connect with your body and quiet your mind so you can hear your inner voice of truth. Other activities that bring you into the moment (like writing, singing, playing music, or spending time in nature) can help you reconnect with yourself as well.
  2. Listen – this is more of a moment to moment practice. Spending even a few minutes in stillness and silence daily is a great way to show your body that you’re willing to listen.
  3. Understand the message – here’s the tricky part. When you walk into a crowded room and get a funny feeling, you might get the message but not know what it means. At first, listen and watch. It takes time to tell your inner nudges of anxiety and fear from excitement and opportunity. Be willing to get it wrong at first. As you learn to obey your inner wisdom it will step up to guide you more often.
  4. Respond with love – it takes practice to respond to yourself in the most loving way possible. If your knee-jerk reaction is to judge or put yourself down, notice this and choose again. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is give yourself permission to feel awkward while you figure it out. When feelings come up you can always take space to regroup and decide how you want to proceed.
  5. Feedback – this is your ‘reward’ for listening and acting according to your truth. Sometimes the feedback will be positive and you’ll know you’re on the right track (i.e.: you eat something and your body feels better). Other times the feedback will tell you you’re off base (you get anxious in a crowd and leave, only to realize it was really excitement and you want to go back).

The journey of self-love starts with the willingness to do so in the first place. Willingness is a softening that allows you to open up and look inside to truly meet yourself. As you listen to your body you’ll become more connected with your truth and you’ll develop the skill of responding appropriately to your needs.

Read more in Part 2 – Practices for Connecting to and Loving Yourself

Comparative Suffering – How to Stop Denying Your Feelings

It’s been 9 weeks since quarantine began. That’s nine weeks that houses have been filled with family members who usually scatter in different directions.

We’ve stopped coming and going. Now we’re “sheltering in place.”

If you’re a parent, this means you’re homeschooling your children, making every single meal at home and trying to keep up your workload from the dining room table while spending all day in the same home as your kids and spouse.

That’s 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, with no evening escape to the yoga studio. No joyful breaks to run errands. No private phone calls. No glasses of wine with your girlfriend. And no stroll through Indigo, or inspiration shopping at HomeSense.

When your girlfriend (who you haven’t seen in over 3 months) calls you up at night and asks the most loaded question “how you doing with all this?”

You open your mouth to give an honest answer. You want to tell her you’re at your wit’s end, that you haven’t baked a single loaf of bread and it’s been weeks since you worked out. You want to tell her that you’re starting to question your sanity, and your relationship.

But just as you go to tell her your real, honest, raw truth, this tiny thought runs through your mind; I shouldn’t complain, so many people have it so much worse.

So, you gloss over your story and say something about it being tough, “but at least the dog’s getting more company these days” and finish up with, “we’re lucky we haven’t lost our jobs and will be ok. You?”

Deep down, you know you live in a neighbourhood of parents who, just like you, are trying to keep it all together while entertaining their kids and putting 3 healthy-ish meals per day on the table.

You know you’re not the only one who’s tired, a little scared, and a lot overwhelmed.

And you can’t help but wonder how long will this be your new normal? How long will you be cut off from friends and support from family? How long will I last in this version of reality that looks like your life, but doesn’t feel like it at all?

But you hesitate to say these thoughts out loud, even to your best friend, because you know how incredibly blessed you are to be healthy, and safe at home with your family, while people around the world are not.

This Covid-19 pandemic sure is bringing our “stuff” to the surface. One thing it’s dredged up in droves is this tiny toxic thought process called Comparative Suffering.

Comparative Suffering Explained

It’s not something that’s new or unique to this situation. I bet you can think of many conversations when you felt guilty sharing your feelings so you covered them up with “…but how can I complain when I know other people have it so much worse?”

This is comparative suffering.

We do it to save face, to relieve guilt, to sugar coat our unpleasant feelings because somehow, we think they’ll be easier to swallow if we remind ourselves that someone else has it much worse.

The thing about comparative suffering is that it doesn’t make us feel lighter, it just makes us feel more alone. There’s a powerful healing quality to being witnessed in our struggles, and letting someone else know when we’re in pain.

Like when your girlfriend calls you up and admits she feels like a bad Mom for yelling at her kids after she’d had a long day at work. It’s cathartic for both of you to hear because you both realize you’re not alone. We all struggle.

Brené Brown says this about comparative suffering:

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that fear and scarcity immediately trigger comparison, and even pain and hurt are not immune to being assessed and ranked. My husband died and that grief is worse than your grief over an empty nest. I’m not allowed to feel disappointed about being passed over for promotion when my friend just found out that his wife has cancer…”

Just as powerfully, she adds—

“The refugee in Syria doesn’t benefit more if you conserve your kindness only for her and withhold it from your neighbor who’s going through a divorce.”

We need to remember that empathy is not a limited resource. We heal more quickly together, partly because sharing removes the temptation to shame ourselves for being wounded in the first place.

Feelings are for Feeling

No one wants to go on about their problems. Yet, when we can’t even admit to having uncomfortable feelings, we’re denying parts of ourselves the healing of being seen, heard and loved.

Let’s get one thing out in the open – there’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, angry (or any other unpleasant emotion). Ever.

You’re not a bad person for having hard feelings… even if you have a great life. Especially if you have a great life, you can heal and let others heal by sharing that things are hard for you at times too.

So, instead of withholding love from ourselves and saving it for “the suffering” (a group of people we know are out there and have it way worse), what if we try compassion instead?

What if we agree not to evaluate, compare, and tally each other’s pain? What if we stop judging ourselves and our friends for their feelings because comparatively it could be worse?

Instead we could spread empathy. We could admit that the house feels like a zoo and we cry at night because hugs from our friends seem like distant memories. We could listen to a friend share about their loved one in the hospital and not feel like it diminishes our right to feel like things are hard in our own home.

We can keep our struggles in perspective and allow ourselves to express them.

Both are true and real.

Both are feelings to be felt.

And everyone deserves to feel their feelings.