Feelings vs. thoughts
A huge part of recovery is about learning to recognize, accept and deal with our feelings, without using food to soothe us. Even difficult feelings like sadness must be accepted as part of life. It’s important to honor ALL feelings. Fighting or suppressing them never works.
However … it’s also important to learn the difference between thoughts and feelings. Thoughts are based on rules, beliefs, and judgments that we made up ourselves or learned from others. Thoughts are not fact, although we often assume that they are. It’s important to question our thoughts when they are negative, because they are often based on faulty beliefs and judgments.
Feelings, however, are actually accompanied by physical sensations and can be described in one word (such as happy, sad, afraid, angry, lonely, and disappointed). This is the easiest way to tell the difference between feelings and thoughts, actually, because thoughts usually cannot be expressed in just one word. Feelings aren’t good or bad; they just are.
Why is this important? Because negative thoughts do NOT deserve the same treatment as negative feelings. Negative feelings must be fully felt and not avoided, as we said above. But negative thoughts should NOT be honored and accepted – they should be challenged.
Here’s an important example:
THOUGHTS: I feel fat, I hate myself, I look awful, I feel like a failure, I should be making more money
FEELINGS: Sad, disappointed, scared
Those feelings are important, and you should allow yourself to feel them. But those THOUGHTS do not deserve your attention. If we work on changing our negative, judgey thought patterns, our feelings become much less intense and easier to handle. This is key to ending emotional eating and binge eating!
As a person who’s spent most of her life being consumed by negative thoughts and avoiding feelings, I have found this feelings vs. thoughts distinction to be a VERY important part of my recovery journey (especially lately, thanks to my CBT group), so I wanted to share with you all! Learning to challenge my negative beliefs and judgments is helping me so much that I expect to be off my antidepressants soon. 🙂
Have you ever noticed how much your thoughts have the power to determine how you feel – and, often, how your whole day goes?