Undigested Emotion: Why Ice Cream Can’t Satisfy the Hunger of the Heart

I came in the house the other night with my emotions leading the way.
They led me straight to the refrigerator where my brain came up with the best survival strategy it knew: peanut butter and chocolate ice cream.  I took my bowl and sat down to digest it hoping that it would make me feel better about what I had just experienced. It tasted good going down, but when I got to the bottom of the bowl not only were the negative feelings  still there, now I had a lump of ice cream just sitting in my gut along with my undigested emotions. 

Instead of taking the time to digest my negative emotions I opted to ingest something more pleasurable.  

I just wanted to FEEL BETTER. 

Sometimes when a storm starts brewing inside of us we, with good intentions, go into survival mode by trying to make the best of it. We reach for our go to solution that has “served us well” in the past.

 For me it’s ice cream; for you maybe it’s a glass of wine.

Maybe it’s Netflix or Instagram.

Maybe it’s cleaning.

Maybe it’s serving. 

Maybe it’s focusing on others’ storms. 


Anything to keep our stress levels down and our spirits up, because who would intentionally want to digest crap? 


Who wants to sit and ‘eat’ irritation. How about a bowl of ‘pissed off’ with a side serving of ‘seething anger?’ Other sides to choose from might be  rejection , loneliness, powerlessness, hopelessness. 


Why wouldn’t our brains choose peanut butter chocolate ice cream?


It knows that will taste good going down. It’s not so sure that taking in the other stuff will feel good in the gut. In fact it might create stress and the brain does everything it can to conserve energy and avoid stress. We are wired to survive. 


But here’s my question for you..

How is survival mode feeling these days? 

Are you tired of just doing what it takes to survive? 

We resist digesting negative emotions in the same way we resist change because we aren’t sure of the outcome.


We know we have survived so far the way we’ve been doing things, but what if  those things that seem unpleasant or unappetizing could actually be the catalyst for shifting from surviving to thriving?


What if by bravely trying just one bite we discover that green eggs and ham are not so bad after all?

 What if brussel sprouts  contain the ingredients for change? 


Processing negative emotions is hard work. It takes time we often don’t have. We tell ourselves that feelings like irritation, anger, and envy are wrong so we shoo them away and keep praying they won’t resurface. 

How’s that working for you? 


Have you ever prayed and prayed asking God to take those emotions away? But darned if they don’t resurface 1 hour later.

 ” God please help me stop yelling at my children. Teach me to speak in love and give me patience when they are acting out. Give me the fruit of kindness and gentleness.” 
Or how about…” Lord, I’m so tired of getting caught up in self pity. I just want to quit whining and be a joyful person again. Please change my heart and mind and help me put on the attitude of Christ.” 
Both, great prayers and great starting places where we are at least identifying the emotions and wanting to change them; and prayer is a great place to start processing them. 

But here is the thing…

 We can look at the brussel sprouts. We can smell them.  We can acknowledge them. We can talk about them.  But it’s not until we eat them  and digest them that our body can sort through them and figure out what it needs to absorb and what needs to be eliminated. 

We need to start digesting our emotions before digesting our food. 

 God wired out brains to experience emotion. We think we are supposed to feel good all of the time, so when we start feeling upset we resist that. Who wants to feel bad? But what if it’s not the emotion that is unhealthy and creating  stress but the way we RESIST DIGESTING them? 

Sometimes , we as Christian women think feeling angry or bitter is sin, so instead of feeling it , we push it away and try to put on a happy face.  I don’t believe that is what Christ did , nor does he call us to that. 


If we are going to learn to walk in wellness the way he modeled then we have to learn to give as much attention to our blocked emotions as we do our digestive discomfort. 

Ok, warning, this next question is gross, but I laughed out loud when I read it because it is so on point and such a good object lesson. 


Are you emotionally constipated? 

Sorry, but I need you to get that visual.  When we have undigested emotions, we walk around constricted. Instead of having a free path for His spirit to flow through us, there is a blockage.  We need to chew on those emotions, swallow them , absorb what we can learn from them, and release the rest. 


So before you go out and spend another $ on supplements or laxatives you might want to consider investing in the digestive health of your emotions.  


As a Health and Wellness Coach I will guide you to take small steps toward awareness so that YOU can learn to absorb those things that nourish you and which things to eliminate.  


I have never been that interested in nutrition, but I am finding that starting with FOOD is easier for us than starting with EMOTIONS.  It is a great way to start listening to your body and recognizing that God wired it with natural wisdom. Our appetites not only for food , but Love, Belonging, and Safety are hard wired and GOOD.


We just need to stop looking outward for our satisfaction and start looking inward and paying attention to  the signals our body is sending us.

 

Next time you sit down to eat or open the refrigerator, stop and do a check up. 

How am I feeling right now? Am I stressed? Frustrated? Angry? Sad?  

Am I experiencing hunger in my gut or hunger in my heart? 

Are there some undigested emotions rumbling in me? 

Lord, 

Thank you for our appetites. Thank you for creating us to experience the full spectrum of emotions. God, we long for satisfaction but often forget that it is YOU alone that can satisfy our souls.  Lord, help us learn to take captive every thought and pay attention to our hearts.  Would you help us learn to walk in discomfort in order for You to cleanse us so that your spirit might FLOW through us?

 

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