Emotional Release

~ It's alright, 'cos there's beauty in the breakdown

You see, when you overeat, to contain the emotions that swirl within you – to put them somewhere, to put a lid on them, or to make yourself numb so you won’t have to feel them at all….feelings that can and should be processed in the mind are often displaced onto the body, where they cannot be processed and therefore remain stored within your flesh.

Marianne Williamson ~ A Course In Weight Loss (Lesson 16)

Feel my feelings? Are you joking!?! I hear (at least some part of) you cry.

The thing is that there is no option.

That discomfort, pain even, that you experience without sugar or your favourite junk food to prop up your emotional state - it is the very feelings you have been eating for years that refuse to be digested.

They are coming back up, like a substance you were never meant to eat in the first place.

Correction: not ‘like’. Emotions ARE something you are not meant to eat.

There is no feelgood place where you never feel horrible. But there IS understanding your emotions. There IS resilience. There IS release.

As we saw in the emotional eating primer emotions are not unwelcome squatters in the house of our mind that we cannot evict. They are messengers, giving us vital information about how to interact with the world.

However, you may have a far more pressing problem for you right now...

How to deal with the pain that not eating addictive foods or compulsively has triggered in you?

This surfaces in two ways in my experience:

#1 Rootless emotional pain that is hard to bear, and enormously confusing - because you have no idea what you are upset about.


#2 Emotional pain with a specific, identifiable cause that you can no longer ignore.

With problem #2, the other Inner Shifts in this series will guide you through dealing with this. But what follows below will also be helpful.

For that rootless pain, there is only one way to proceed:

Accept that it is previously suppressed, unprocessed emotion that you need to release.

How To Release The Emotion

When I was swamped by this unidentifiable pain, my initial strategy was to cry. And cry.

Eventually when I stopped weeping, I would distract myself any way possible - usually with a DVD.

However, I believe thatyou can make the release easier on yourself by consciously channeling your feelings...this may accompany rather than replace the crying, but at least you will be actively moving it through your emotional system.

For example:

What literature speaks to you? Classics like Shakespeare? Or something modern? I found a lot of comfort in Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down when my emotions got intense.


What music resonates with your pain? This clip from A Long Way Down which uses the beautiful Youth by Daughter combines the two.


What creative outlet can you find for your emotions? Painting, writing, collage. Sometimes it helps to set fire to what you have created. You can do this safely by using a big ceramic flower pot outside. When I used to get enraged by the mail that came to the house for my ex (after months of telling him to change his address), I started channeling this by burning it. Now, whenever I see a letter for him land on my doormat, I get a very satisfying spurt of dopamine and immediately cremate the missive in my garden. It feels great. Rage long since channelled and problem solved!



Once you feel you have released the emotion(s), you need to - for want of a better word - come down from the release mode.

This release is hard work, and you need to recuperate. Think about what soothes, comforts and distracts you most effectively?

For example:

A bath or shower


Something mindless to read

Mindless websurfing (avoid social media, have a look at Wait But Why instead

A movie or stand up comedy. Here is a good example - AKA an excuse for me to put a Rhod Gilbert video up!

Final Words

Emotional release is something that you get used to and it becomes much, much less scary the more you do it.

The first clip on this page is from Garden State and is partly a portrait of someone embracing emotional release in a positive way for the first time ever. I will end with the movie's theme song Let Go by Frou Frou. Remember the line It's alright, 'cos there's beauty in the breakdown which is a wonderful way to reframe this important skill.

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