For years I have been subscribing to a correspondence course that focuses on different aspects of self-care and self-improvement.
I like to save the lessons. Sometimes I also like to go back and read them years later. When I do this I often discover they are just as fresh and insightful as they were when I first received them (which either means I haven’t learned anything or they are timeless. Personally, I prefer the latter interpretation).
Recently I read an old lesson about how to deal with cravings. The advice was simple – ignore them. They are like waves in the ocean – they arise and then they subside. For a moment I thought I had picked up the wrong lesson and was reading the one about how to deal with emotions instead.
It seems that great advice has many applications. Even better, I tried it on my cravings and it works just as well as it works on my emotions. Yahoo!!
As it turns out, emotions and cravings apparently share a common DNA. They both arise and subside. They both happen rather routinely. They both can encourage us to do or say things we later really wish we hadn’t.
And they both are quite manageable if we know what to do.
Interestingly, I can easily visualize a future where I feel totally fine and happy in my life without having to deal with any cravings at all. I might still have preferences, but I think I would be perfectly okay with this. Preferences feel more like choices or polite requests from me to me, while cravings feel like mean bullies.
But to never again feel emotions – to feel sad, joyful, angry, afraid or content – is actually kind of a scary contemplation to me. It’s not that I don’t vastly prefer some of those emotions to the others, but would I want to give up on feeling all emotions just to avoid some? I don’t think I would. I’m not even sure what it would be like to be a human being without feeling emotions from time to time. I’m also not sure it would be a healthy experience to pick and choose among my emotions like that.
However, I can foresee a time when having emotions will affect me in less intense ways. In fact, I think I am already experiencing this – when I was in the grips of an eating disorder, I felt numb all the time. Then I started recovering and I felt fragile all the time. Now I am in strong recovery and emotions are a part of my life, not absent or the sum total of my experience of being me.
So the signs of progress are there. Best of all, I now have a new enhanced understanding of cravings thanks to all the work I continue to do around emotions. When I see cravings as random – like waves – some big, some small, some wide, some narrow, some gentle and some violent – they are much less intimidating and much more interesting to work with.
Today’s Takeaway: How do you deal with emotions and cravings? Do you see any helpful parallels between these two experiences in your own life? What works for you to be able to feel what you want or need to feel without being overtaken by your own human experiences?
Brownies photo available from Shutterstock
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Last reviewed: 21 Feb 2013