We're all very well equipped with the knowledge and tools to manage our physical health. We know that our fitness will never improve if we ignore it, and we understand that the consequences of doing so can lead to weight gain and even obesity.
Our emotional health works the same way. If we ignore our emotions, accept the harsh messages we tell ourselves, and allow our feelings to guide our decisions without ever determining why we feel that way, we pack on emotional weight. We can even become emotionally obese.
What is Emotional Obesity?
In short, "emotional obesity" is the layers and layers of thoughts, judgments, ideas, and fears that cover our authentic selves in the same way that layers of fat might cover our midsections.
It occurs when we accept the messages from the world without consciously questioning the value of ideas for our lives. We have all done it: we justify the job we don’t want, the unfulfilling relationship we won’t leave, or the decision we don’t want to make. We tell ourselves, “This makes sense.” “This is what I deserve.” “This is how life is.” And we get weighed down.
There are ways to tell whether your emotional weight is keeping you from finding the happiness you desire. Do any of these apply?
9 Signs You’re Emotionally Obese
1. You feel weighed down.
2. You say “can’t” or “shouldn’t” when you think about what you really want.
3. You struggle to ask for what you want.
4. You struggle to say what you want without immediately denying it.
5. You don’t feel empowered.
6. You don’t feel secure in your life even though you work hard.
7. Anxiety, stress, anger, and resentment are a regular part of your life.
8. You don’t feel like you're living your truth.
9. You feel a nagging sensation that something is just not right.
The odds are good that each of us has checked off at least one or two of these boxes. Fortunately, there are things you can do to shed some emotional pounds.
Find Your "Junk Food Thoughts"
We all have our junk food thoughts — the negative thoughts with which we tear ourselves down, the judgments that make us afraid to take the next step, and the fears that undermine our goals.
Like a big bowl of ice cream, these junk food thoughts pack on emotional weight if we indulge in them too often.
Then there are nutritional thoughts, the ones that encourage and affirm us, supporting our goals and moving us closer to attaining them, and allowing us to acknowledge our fears but then move forward in spite of them.
Which do you think is more conducive to your emotional fitness?
Feed Your Mind Better
Breaking yourself away from your habitual junk food thoughts (yes, they are habits) starts with awareness. So many of the stories we tell ourselves are such well worn messages we might not even realize we are listening to them!
Dig deep into the origins of your most comfortable junk food thoughts. Where did they come from?
Then ask yourself: “Is it true?” Do you even agree with some of these thoughts, or are you just accustomed to them? And finally, ask yourself: “Does thinking this way help me? Is it making my life better?”
If the answer is no, it’s time to find something more nutritious.
Start Working Out
There are so many mini-workouts that will help you shed emotional weight. Most of them start with awareness.
Tune into your junk food thoughts the next time they run through your mind. Try not to judge them, just accept that they are there. Then put your focus on your nutritional thought.
Little by little, these workouts will become easier to do as your emotional fitness improves. And just like physical exercise, you’ve got to exercise regularly to see the most benefit.