Can you recall a time when you have eaten in a state of anger? When someone has upset or annoyed you, or something hasn’t gone well? Perhaps you have suffered some kind of loss or defeat? Angry eating is a response to the feeling of anger. When you’re feeling anger that means that you are feeling hurt. It is important to address that anger, otherwise you will be storing it up. That will affect how you relate to others - and to yourself.
If you eat while experiencing feelings of anger, even the way you eat can be angry - you’ll favour crunchy foods like crisps and raw vegetables – anything that makes use of your jaws - experiencing the sound of your biting - you like the violence of the jaw action as you bite heavily into these foods. This is just a response to hurt, you use those mechanisms to soothe it. But the thing is, when you don’t heal your hurt you are more likely to hurt yourself - and others.
So what can you do to help yourself in the moment? In the short-term, you can help yourself by being aware of your feelings and emotions. Are you eating in a peaceful or relaxed mindset? Or are you eating to soothe some underlying issues? Eating in order to soothe your emotional state is likely to lead to putting on weight because you aren’t dealing with the emotion, so you’re eating to pacify it – and so you’ll need more food as the short-term soothing subsides. And the danger here is that you’ll keep repeating this cycle, because by now your mind has made it familiar- and the mind sticks to what is familiar. *
It helps to try to be in the moment, be in the present. I like the quote of Lao Tzu who said “If you’re depressed you are in the past, If you’re anxious you’re in the future and if you’re at peace you’re in the present”. So awareness is one key. When you are aware of your emotional state you can deal with the feelings more effectively. A good way of mastering awareness is to practice mindfulness. When you are eating, monitor how you’re feeling – you can do this quietly, focussing on yourself; ask yourself “how am I feeling?” - anxious, angry, sad, joyful - whatever you’re feeling, acknowledge it. If you are experiencing anger or anxiety, can you do something about it before or while you’re eating? You have maybe an hour’s lunch, and you have an issue that is in the forefront of your mind. Can you do anything about that issue at that precise moment? Most probably not. So as an alternative, can you try asking your mind to postpone dealing with whatever it is until after your lunch and not eating while that is sitting in the forefront of your mind.
Whatever action you take, bring awareness to the fore. And then you’ll come up with a strategy. “OK this is my lunch hour, I‘ve got an hour (or whatever), I’m going to devote this time to focusing on my eating and the food itself”. And a good thing to do is to eat slowly, thoughtfully, savouring the flavour in every mouthful that you take. The habit of eating can so easily fall into a mechanical routine whereby we engage our mind in other thoughts and distractions, to the point where sometimes we hardly even notice what we are putting in our mouths. How many times have you eaten lunch with a hundred and one things on your mind and by the time you realise that you’re eating, you’ve finished! Can you even remember what you had?
If your habit has become to take your meals quickly, in one bite, chewing it once or twice and swallowing it, you’re denying yourself so much of the pleasure of food. But now with mindful eating you can slow things down - you bite, you chew it ten (or more) times now, you experience the flavours for longer, and then you ingest it. It’s going to be strange at first, yes, because it’s not familiar to you yet, but the more you practice the more you are in the moment and therefore present, then the more likely you are to be increasingly at peace and relaxed. If you want to you can reinforce that mindful state of eating with affirmations like “I am putting the best and tastiest food into my body because I deserve the best”, “I am supplying my body and mind with quality, nutritious food that will enable me to function at my best”, and “This is my way of looking after myself by giving my body useful nutrients that it can use to make me feel better, work better and enjoy my life more”.
When you are focused on being more relaxed and rested and well fed, you’ll have more space for creativity. Because anger depletes the blood supply to your brain. And if the blood supply to your brain is diminished because of that feeling, you won’t have the capacity to enable the creativity to sort out the problem because your main priority is to get out of the situation - to run, to fight, to do whatever you need to do, body-wise. So from the anger you will get a rush of adrenaline and a rush of cortisol which is compelling you to move – to get up and out of your chair. But the thing is that so often we don’t – we feel angry, upset, but we are sitting with that flood of stress hormones in the body and they don’t go anywhere and they don’t get used, which is very bad for us.
These hormones and chemicals have to go somewhere - so where do they go? They go into your stomach, your gut, your lungs, your heart. They go into places you don’t want them to go because they’re not designed to go there and stay there; these are fast-creation chemicals, designed to be fast-released. That’s their purpose. So by creating unused chemicals you can get stomach cramps, they might go to your heart and constrict your heart, they can even go to your brain and cause you all types of different problems. The adrenaline is created specifically for the purpose of reacting to your anger - a certain amount of stress is good to have, yes, it propels you to do something - but you do have to do something. And when you use that energy, then it gets dissipated, but when you are sitting with it and you do nothing, your body will let you know. We can forgive others, we can forgive ourselves, but our nervous system does not forgive us – indeed, it cannot, because it has created these on-demand chemicals and it cannot un-make them.
The brain is saying “hold on, I’m flooding your body with stress hormones, yet you’re not moving. So I’m going to direct those chemicals somewhere else”. And only you know where you feel them. Only you know where in stressful situations which parts of your body will get affected. For some people it’s in their lungs, others their back, others their gut or throat.
So the best way to help yourself is through awareness, mindfulness, meditation. Walk or sit in nature if you can – even a window onto an outside space can be a valuable way to change your viewpoint. If it’s a sunny day go outside and look at nature while eating your lunch. If it’s a bad weather day, find a relaxing, calm or quiet space and pop some relaxing music on your headphones while you eat. While you’re eating avoid social media, the news, negativity of any sort. When your awareness is already telling you that you’re in a negative or stressed state of mind, the best way to help yourself is to do something opposite- or at least different and positive. Mindful breathing techniques can also be enormously helpful in encouraging a more positive mental environment.
So by applying mindfulness techniques you can substantially calm your mind before eating. This will allow you to enjoy your food more, digest it better, and hopefully help you to go into your day with a more positive attitude.
Enjoy your meal!
*Our brain wishes to move us from a place of pain to a place of pleasure - and food is one of the easiest options at our disposal. For those of you who feel you may be in this cycle, this can feel uncomfortable. However, this isn’t the only possible outcome. When RTT enables you to identify the root cause of the issue you don’t need those amounts of food to overcome the pain that you are suffering. Because the root has been eliminated. RTT can go to the root cause of your anger- what caused you to be like that, because until you solve it subconsciously, you haven’t solved it at all.
We can talk about issues consciously but you’re not dealing with them, you’re just talking about them. For anyone who would like to discuss any issues around eating, please book a Free Discovery Call where we can talk over what's troubling you, and you can discover how RTT can help you eliminate it.
Here's a video for all you amazing people out there who may be a little self-conscious about Valentine's Day!
The great news is that I'm here to remind you that the best friend and soulmate you could ever find is looking back at you in the mirror!
Please share this video with your friends who may find it useful and uplifting!
Sending you all wishes for a happy INDEPENDENT Valentine's Day!
Hugs, Juan Carlos.
You can watch the video here
Can you see what’s wrong with this statement? “I was made redundant”
Redundancy is a difficult subject to address, but right now it’s a fact of life for so many people, so it is important to know that there are things that you can do to help yourself through the turbulence of redundancy.
Recently a LinkedIn article asked if the stigma attached to redundancy was reducing as time went by, and the general consensus seemed to be that it was - 75% said yes and 25% said no.
However, that wasn’t what made me so concerned. What genuinely shocked me was the replies that came in- and there were hundreds of them. So many contained the words “I was made redundant” that I felt compelled to respond.
What was so interesting was that while the respondents were talking about redundancy, they themselves were falling into the classic trap of “owning” the redundancy itself. Which reminds us how powerful are the words we use about ourselves.
Although we all understand that a person is referring to their job and not themselves, the fact that so many people still say “I was made redundant” suggests a tangled emotional ownership which is unhelpful and needs to be resolved before they can move on positively. It’s so important to remember that redundancy happens to jobs, not people.
The use of the term “I was made redundant”, as opposed to the more accurate “My job was made redundant” also reminds us all that too often we feel defined by our jobs, when we are clearly so much more.
If someone is still attached to their old job when, frankly, it is time to put that job down and focus on the job-search ahead, then that job-search, their outlook and their energy levels will often be hampered. We have to “dis-own” redundancy in order to stop it “owning” us.
It is perfectly understandable that many (perhaps most) people need to go through a grieving process for the “loss” of an integral part of their working life. Thankfully, many good employers have helpful programs in place to help with the emotional and practical aspects of redundancy; however, each person must play their own part in mentally “releasing themselves” from their old job before they can search for their new one.
They can help themselves to do this by mentally closing a life chapter, reminding themselves of their major strengths and achievements (to be captured for their CV), and then focus their energies on looking forward to their next challenge with optimism. If there is anger at the loss, then that must also be dealt with before the person can move on.
If you find that your job is being made redundant, whether right now or recently, my heartfelt thoughts are with you (it has happened in our house twice already). You are not alone.
You can really help yourself by reframing your vocabulary and beliefs - this can bring positive benefits to your job-search and your feelings about the future. While no one is under any illusions about how hard jobsearch can be, especially in the current Covid climate, it’s often much less stressful with a positive attitude, a well-written CV and friends, ex-colleagues and family rooting for you.
May I sincerely wish everyone job-searching right now success in finding the next role in their careers.
© Juan Carlos Gouveia 2021
Hello everyone and a very Happy New Year to You all!
This is the time of year when many of us mark the arrival of a new year by planning out all the improvements we are going to make, the bad habits we are going to change and our goals for the coming months. It's certainly a good thing to do; but what concerns me is that so many people write their lists at the start of the year....only to find their lists are exactly the same as last year's. So what goes wrong? What aren't we doing to help ourselves?
Take a look at the video to find out more....
The mind’s connection with music is primal. Music has strong connections to memory, so what is it about music that opens the door to recollection when at other times that door remains stubbornly locked?
The recent viral video of a ballerina in her nineties with dementia “returning to life” when music is played to her is incredibly moving, demonstrating eloquently the power of music to connect with our deepest selves. The video has obviously resonated deeply - it has been seen over 2 million times in a month.
The ballerina featured in the video (which you can also see in the link at the end of this article), Marta Cinta Gonzalez Saldaña, was given headphones to listen to the music from SWAN LAKE, a ballet in which she had performed the lead many times as a younger woman.
She gestures to the assistant to increase the volume of the music and suddenly - unexpectedly - she is connected with her true self. Her facial expression and upper body movements are evidence that a direct link has been established between the woman and her earlier, authentic self. It is a profoundly moving scene which reminds us of the priceless value of memory, and how memory is fundamental to who we are.
The devastation to our loved ones from Alzheimer’s, dementia and other memory-related declines are catastrophes to so many people, not just the person affected. We see our beloved friend or family member “slipping away”, and there appears little we can do about it. An “invisible wall” is as distressing to those locked in as to those locked out. Advances in neuroscience are gradually bringing pieces of evidence to light about this cruellest of diseases, but always too slowly for those suffering right now. We should remember that there are sometimes contributing factors too. An event occurs which triggers a decline, perhaps physical - maybe a fall, bringing with it less movement, consequently muscles decline in content and ability - and the path for decline is set. This is why activity and movement is especially important for people in later life.
But why should music have such power? From the earliest stages of an embryo’s development, sound is one of the first sensual experiences the unborn child encounters, and so those neural pathways are amongst the earliest created and reinforced. The most primal sound, the rhythm of heartbeat, may be the very first aural experience the embryo reacts to, and aligns with. When born, the baby’s attempts at sound making are all attempts at communication, and music, in the form of nursery rhymes and lullabies, are connected sounds that babies hear again and again, deeply ingraining the neural pathways regarding sound and its effect upon us. Our brain’s natural, constant search for pattern is rewarded richly in the stream of musical notes and their pitch, flow and cadence. Music has an elemental power to connect with our souls and minds.
This video is proof positive that everything that we see, feel and experience throughout our lives doesn’t disappear or fade away at the onset of memory-related disease – it doesn’t go away; It’s all still “in us”. It just needs new pathways to be forged with professional help, so that the individual is empowered to negotiate the unfamiliar terrain in their own minds. We need to pull some of the bricks from that “invisible wall” and build bridges with them.
We need to understand that all memory-decline diseases affect the conscious mind only. We must also be acutely aware that emotion is the language of the subconscious, whereas logic is the language of the conscious mind. Further, we must remember that the subconscious is 90% or more of our brain, whereas the conscious is just 10%, or less. In our minds, whenever there is a battle between emotion and logic, emotion always wins.
Healthcare professionals can focus their work upon what’s still working to achieve results. The emotional framework is still intact and this is what’s used to reconnect to the memory systems which are losing their connectivity.
Music activates a memory that is attached to emotions and wonderful feelings which transport that person back to that original moment. Here, it’s important to understand that the mind doesn’t recognise past or future, it only recognises the present. So our mind only responds in present time. It doesn’t matter how old the memory is, when you are experiencing it the body is making those chemicals associated with that memory right now all over again. So you are responding to thought alone. If the thought is happy, you’ll feel great. And, sadly, vice-versa.
In the video you can see that this lady has been transported. She is responding to a memory from the past in the present and at that moment, it is new again. It’s a thought from the past but she is experiencing it right now.
You can try this yourself. Recall one of your happiest memories, like your wedding day, the birth of your children - or whatever in your past has brought you most joy. Now try to be aware of how you are feeling in the present moment and how your body is responding. Your mind is making those chemicals all over again – right now.
So we can see that there are opportunities here to work with the subconscious when the conscious fails us.
As it also deals with the subconscious, Rapid Transformational Therapy can play a positive role too. From reported experience in two separate cases, a parent of one of my colleagues developed some cognitive decline. With the application of RTT, and the elimination of underlying issues, they each significantly regained their mobility as well as the ability to speak and sing. The subjects’ feelings are reportedly now much more positive than previously, and as a result they are more engaged rather than withdrawn. This suggests that people with cognitive decline may well be able to slow their decline significantly, in conjunction with their recommended medication and professional care.
Aside from comprehensively following medical advice, what can we do to help our loved ones? We can find out what that person responds to and then stimulate them by focusing on those areas. It could be anything, so it’s important to try as many different areas as possible. Touch, music, movement, drawing, or many others - and just keep exploring. Keep returning to areas which trigger a response as this will stimulate the existing neural pathway connections as well as creating new ones. It absolutely takes effort, but by putting in the work you are more likely to reap the rewards.
It’s also helpful to remember the importance of diet to those with memory decline issues. The brain is comprised of about 60% fat, which sounds alarming - but this is healthy fat which is vital for brain and overall body health and helps stabilize the cell walls in the brain. It can also reduce inflammation and helps the immune system function properly. We can help the brain by feeding it fish oils (or plant based oils with Omega 3 and 6), Zinc and Vitamin B and Magnesium, nature’s own relaxant – as well as a healthy well-balanced diet rich in colourful fruit and vegetables.
While nothing is guaranteed in this area of health, the important thing to remember is that there is hope. With an holistic approach, utilising all the tools available in a personally-tailored program, we can make a significant contribution to that person's wellbeing. Let’s all do what we can to support the acquisition of further knowledge in the hope that future generations will have more tools at their disposal to fight back against all kinds of memory loss issues. It’s important to recognise the many dedicated specialists working in this field, as well as The Alzheimer’s Society and many other pioneering organisations who are at the forefront of the fight to keep our loved ones; let's all try to support them whenever we are able to.
Meanwhile, let’s all make time to enjoy our favourite music, knowing that it is actually doing us good- and let’s all keep moving!
BALLERINA RELIVES SWAN LAKE
READ MORE ABOUT THE ORGANISATION WHICH CREATED THIS PROGRAM, MUSICA PARA DESPERTAR
Juan Carlos is a therapist and author with over 22 years' experience as a diagnostic scientist.
All blog entries are Copyright ©2019-2022 Juan Carlos Gouveia, except quotations and where stated.
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