Sensitivity

Self-care Fridays: Food & Feelings

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1. I wanted to rhyme ‘Food’ & ‘Mood’ for this title but nothing witty came to mind

This week, I was mindful about drinking more water, and reducing my salt & sugar intake. (Writing this sentence just gave me a sense of being connected to my mother, who is the queen of healthy eating and very much the voice in my head whenever I find myself confronted by food choices.) What sparked this drive was probably an entire summer’s worth of being reckless about what I was putting into my body – (I wanted to gain weight after the Food Poisoning Incident of 2014 of which we shall never speak again), and after months of indulgence, I needed to feel a little bit more grounded by the food I was eating.

Food affects my mood a lot more than I would like to acknowledge sometimes. Too much sugar and I find myself being unable to focus well. Then, in order to help me focus, I have to drink coffee – but then I would need to remind myself to stop at one cup of coffee a day – if not, my night would be spent in fitful, dream-filled half slumber. (Which was what happened last night, sigh.) Sugar also results in more severe mood swings, and gives me a kind of high that’s hard to get down from.

It’s not a coincidence that I have also been eating out constantly and I think that food in America is generally more heavily salted – or rather, there’s lack of readily available sushi & Japanese food here in DC that I would usually get back home – so the food options that I do tend to get out of convenience, like Chinese food, has just way too much sodium in it. There’s that unmistakeable thirst and this sensation on your tongue you just can’t shake off.

So this week, I cooked myself dinner – thanks to a farmers market I chanced upon. I mean, look at those adorable baby eggplants! Food for the soul, for real. I hope to keep this up for at least a couple a nights a week to begin with.

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This was the result – steamed eggplant, with soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds and seaweed flakes. Reminded me of home, and was super tasty! (… If I may say so myself.)

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Also picked up some pretty blooms:

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2. Feeling those feelings

One thing on my mind this week is how as an empath, I am a really emotional creature. This was an aspect of myself that I was very uncomfortable with – before I had any idea what was going on, I experienced emotions in overwhelming waves. They were huge and swooping and made me feel all kinds of crazy, and I wasn’t having any of it. So as a coping mechanism, I strived to be utterly rational and reasonable about every single emotion that I had – when I wasn’t just straight up ignoring them – I wanted to neatly label it, categorize it and put it back in the box where I thought it belonged – away from the ‘real’ world and reality in which I thought (or hoped!) that we all purely existed and operated from.

But the truth is, feelings very much drive our physical reality. (The previous sentence, by the way, is completely unoriginal – it was the one thing that jumped out at me when I was re-reading Anita Moorjani’s Dying to be Me. ) How we feel about things informs the way we behave and respond to them, thus shaping what really happens in real life. This is not to say that every single emotion has great import and gravity – but that feelings are just another way our body tries to communicate information to us, and drives our unconscious behaviors.

And over the course of this year, I’ve been experiencing the truth of this fact, in two main ways. The first is that when I find myself reacting out of fear and anxiety, or thinking fearfully about the future, and making plans and provisions when I’m in that state – I try to catch myself at it, and stop. I challenge the underlying belief – am I making these plans because I believe there won’t be enough for me, out there, at the end of the day? Is it because I need to feel secure in the moment, so I’m comforting myself with all these plans, which may or may not work out anyway? Thinking back, maybe 50% of the projects I’d started and discarded were due to this need to keep busy, to give myself that illusion of security, and sense of being in complete control of my future. Once that underlying anxiety was dissipated through starting those projects, I would lose interest. And I’m no longer willing to expend energy in that way anymore, or create chaos for myself or others, especially now that I know this about myself!

So I try to shift my mindset into one of enough – and of abundance. I calm myself down, and remind myself that where I am is good now, and check in with my heart to see what’s up. And if there’s some anxiety or real source of distress I’m just not in tune with yet – I allow the reason to float up to the surface at its own time and pace, and to address that directly. I now try to make decisions out of a place of calm – and often times, even though it might not be the most obvious decision, it tends to turn out the right way.

“I’ve learned that whenever I make a decision with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”

Maya Angelou

The second is the allowing of feeling my feelings – and being nonjudgmental about them or rushing to a conclusion as to what it all means. Because sometimes, an emotion is just another cloud in the sky – there, all floaty and stuff – but soon to drift on by. My  mind though, fights to assign meaning, and to ‘fix’ it. But really all it takes to dissipate an emotion – especially the tough, tricky ones, is to accept the discomfort and to sit with it for a while. And it will pass.

The above are all works in progress, obviously, and probably things that I would need to work on for my entire foreseeable future. My reflexes to react in the old ways are still there – but simply having that awareness of them already goes a long way in curbing them. And this wouldn’t be possible without guidance from Caroline from The Happy Sensitive – her healing methods have worked a charm, and has been one of the more positive forces in the empath world. I can’t tell you just how healing it is to be in contact with fellow empaths, and I highly recommend getting guidance – empath or not – because emotions are a tricky terrain to navigate, even for the healthiest of individuals. These are challenging times – and we need all the help we can get!

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