We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us. – Albert Einstein
At any one moment in time there are over 400 billion bits of information coming into our awareness from our senses.
But we’re only consciously aware of about 10 of them.
This means there are about close to 390 billion, 999 million + other bits of information that we’re not consciously aware of that are impacting how we feel. And how we feel impacts our habits and behavior, like eating chips when we’re stressed, or having candy when we’re sad.
Have you ever felt something but couldn't put your finger on why you felt that way? Some people call this intuition or a gut feeling, and there could be a mystical or spiritual component to it, but that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m referring to the vast amount of information in our awareness and the limited ability of the conscious mind to make sense of it all in a meaningful way.
You can think of the conscious mind as a page with space for 10 words, and the subconscious mind is a picture. A picture is worth 1,000 words, right? Well if that’s the case, then the subconscious mind is capturing 40,000 images every second of our life. And the conscious mind is aware of 10 words. 10 things. Not even one full picture.
The Limitations of Our Conscious Mind
We are very limited by what we can consciously be aware of, so to fix that our brain gave us emotions and feelings. In this book, I refer to emotions and feelings as the same thing, but emotions are really the meaning applied by our subconscious mind to any situation. We become aware of the meaning when we feel it in our body as a sensation - a feeling. These feelings are a deeper knowing of the other 400+ billion bits of information in our subconscious mind perceived from our senses plus everything else the subconscious mind already knows based on past experience.
Our emotions are a powerful indicator of what is really going on - the big picture, and all the connected pieces. You can think of our emotions as the result of this richer data set - and with this additional information we can make better decisions about ourselves and the world around us.
The Truth About Emotions
Most of us are never taught what emotions are actually for, and unlike what some people would like to believe - that emotions are fleeting, or that you shouldn’t pay attention to them - they are really an indicator of what is going on in the subconscious mind. We can’t always make sense of our emotions because consciously we’re not always aware of what is driving them, so it can take a little time to become aware of what our emotions are trying to tell us.
Another way to think about the conscious and subconscious mind when it comes to emotions is that the conscious mind is like the tip of the iceberg. It’s what you can see, and what you’re aware of. The subconscious mind is what is underneath - the much larger portion of the iceberg.
The subconscious mind has all of our memories in it - so it has a much larger database of everything that has happened to us. At times we are feeling something inside that is based on the subconscious mind, but we’re not consciously aware of it yet. Many people refer to this as a “gut” feeling, and that feeling is based on a deeper understanding being driven by the subconscious mind.
What Our Emotions Are For, and How To Address Them
The challenge is that most of us were never taught what our emotions are for, or how to address them. In many cases we were taught to ignore our emotions, and “use our head” to make decisions - when in reality our “head” is limited by what we know consciously, where our emotions are tapping into that vast body of understanding in the subconscious mind.
But years of ignoring our emotions often leaves us not understanding what they’re really trying to tell us, so here’s the underlying and important component: Emotions are intended to motivate us to do something - to take some action.
Feeling “bad” is an indicator that something isn’t right and we should do something to fix it so the “bad” feeling goes away. But because we often don’t understand what the feeling is trying to tell us, we don’t take action and just end up with the bad feeling instead - like feeling anxious or sad. Then we eat to distract ourselves from the bad feeling to get it to go away which causes us to overeat and usually gain weight.
The Secret Language of Feelings
One of my favorite books that goes into great detail about what our emotions and feelings are for and how to understand them is called The Secret Language of Feelings, by Calvin D. Banyan. I highly recommend this book and offer it to nearly all of my clients. It beautifully describes the meanings behind common feelings - like anger and boredom, and what to do about them. It also introduces the powerful concept of “Feel Bad, Distract” which is feeling bad about something, then distracting from the feeling with something else - in this case, with food.
The first thing to understand is that our emotions are worth paying attention to. They are trying to tell us something important. The emotion is often a reaction to something in our environment, and we don’t consciously choose it.
So when we find ourselves standing in the kitchen looking for something to eat, but nothing “sounds” good, that’s usually an indicator that we’re not actually hungry but rather bored or upset. We need to address the feeling of boredom or what’s making us upset for the feeling to go away - food won’t make us less bored or less upset.
This is what is commonly referred to as emotionally eating - eating for an emotional reason rather than actual hunger. In this case food typically functions as a distractor - passing time so to speak, so while you’re eating you’re not bored or upset. But once you stop eating you will find that you’re still bored or upset. This is why you may think, “hmm.... I guess it wasn’t really ice cream I was hungry for - maybe I want chips instead...” and that continues until 500 calories later at which point you likely feel even worse because you still feel bored or upset, but now maybe guilty as well for eating so much.
Ignoring Our Emotions Does Not Make Them Go Away
Ignoring our emotions does not help - it does not make them go away. Trying to shove them down with food also does not help. We are often behaving based on our emotions, and the only way to address them is to understand what they’re telling us, then follow through.
Often when we take the time to investigate our feelings, we’ll realize that what they’re trying to tell us is based on false information - when that happens the “bad” feeling dissipates immediately. This happens because some of the 400+ billion bits of information that we take in through our senses are perceived incorrectly.
We don’t always get it right. Sometimes a look of confusion is misperceived as anger. Sometimes an email from a friend is perceived as being rude, when in fact they were just in a hurry and being very direct. If we paused for a moment to understand what we’re actually feeling we may realize that our friend is not a rude person, and that they were likely just in a hurry.
However, since most of us don’t know what emotions are telling us, the only conceivable option is to ignore them and hope they go away. But ignoring them almost always makes things worse.
Emotions Empower Us with a Deeper Understanding
Our emotions are an important part of our human makeup. They’re actually an indicator of a deeper understanding - something that is usually more complex than the conscious mind in its limited ability is aware of. They help guide us to action that needs to be taken for us to be happy. This is why we often feel so conflicted and out of control - we know what we SHOULD be doing (eating a healthy dinner), but don’t actually FEEL like doing it (instead we want to eat ice cream because we had a stressful day).
But our feelings are often based in misperceptions about ourselves and our surroundings, so when we learn what our emotions are telling us and where they come from, we can be rid of emotions that aren’t based in reality and lead much more peaceful and happy lives. But we first have to be courageous enough to feel our feelings. To know that they’re there for a reason. To stop shoving them down with a cheeseburger and fries or ice cream.
Using the conscious mind only to make decisions is like buying a car and only knowing the make - not the model, not the year, and not the condition. Our emotions are complex because they include such a richer data set of everything we’ve experienced, but they are also capable of being understood in a simpler way.
We all have this power inherent within us to understand our emotions and decode what our feelings are telling us - and hypnosis helps simplify this process for us at first - then we learn to do it on our own naturally. When we do that, it helps us feel better about ourselves and our life - and helps us do things in our life that we know we want to do - like eat healthy food that helps us feel energized, and move more.
Putting it All Together
Our emotions are a powerful indicator of what’s going on inside of us. They’re the product of the 400+ billion bits of information we’re not consciously aware of plus our life’s past experiences - a richer data set intended on helping us understand our world and help us make decisions.
Once understood, the emotions are released and we’re left with insights that help guide us toward better decisions - allowing us to discard emotional baggage and feel lighter and better. We reduce emotional eating, lose weight, and begin to feel in control of our lives.
Copyright 2017 by Erika Flint. All Rights Reserved.
Morgan James Publishing in partnership with Difference Press.
Reprogram Your Weight: Stop Thinking about Food All the Time, Regain Control of Your Eating, and Lose the Weight Once and for All
by Erika Flint.
In Reprogram Your Weight, award-winning hypnotist Erika Flint combines insightful and leading edge hypnosis techniques with client success stories of weight loss to help many lose the weight once and for all.
About the Author
Erika Flint is an award-winning hypnotist, author, speaker and co-host of the popular podcast series Hypnosis, Etc. She is the founder of Cascade Hypnosis Center in Bellingham, Washington, and creator of the Reprogram Your Weight system. Her book, Reprogram Your Weight: Stop Thinking About Food All the Time, Regain Control of Your Eating, and Lose the Weight Once and for All (Difference Press 2016), unveils how hypnosis taps into an individual's inherent power for weight loss success. Visit CascadeHypnosisCenter.com.
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