You know how important your physical metabolism is to getting and keeping a body and life you love. But, have you ever stopped to consider the state of your emotional metabolism? Here’s why you should…
When you consume foods and drinks, the body must process those inputs in a healthy way. It has to assimilate the good while neutralizing and discarding the bad.
If your body is able to do that efficiently, you have a functional metabolism. If your body is not able to do that adequately, you have a suppressed or dysfunctional metabolism.
Your emotional metabolism works much the same way. Life is constantly bombarding you with positive, negative, and neutral inputs. These inputs, and the thoughts and emotions that come with them, have to be processed.
We all know people who have trouble handling negative inputs, but there’s also a lot of people who have trouble processing positive inputs. Low self-worth, for example, can cause people to neutralize and excrete compliments and even love, rather than assimilating these things.
Ideally, the negative inputs are processed, neutralized, and excreted. The positive inputs are processed and assimilated. If all of this is happening efficiently, good things happen as a result. If the inputs are processed inefficiently, our day to day experience isn’t so positive.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some thoughts and emotions are extremely healthy while others are quite toxic. The comparison to food is extremely relevant here. Emotions like shame, bitterness, jealousy, and hatred are so toxic that we refer to them as a “junk food emotions.” Just as people can get hooked into a cycle of abusing junk food, they can get hooked into a cycle of abusing junk food emotions.
A Slow Emotional Metabolism Has Consequences.
If you have a dysfunctional emotional metabolism, you can’t adequately process, neutralize, and discard negative inputs and you may also fail to assimilate positive inputs.
Overall, you’re less mentally and emotionally resilient and that in turn makes you more susceptible to being triggered, feeling unfilled, and ultimately feeling unhappy. It’s also a main driver of coping behavior.
When your emotional metabolism is overloaded or constipated, you may look to external mechanisms for comfort, control, and coping. These external mechanisms allow you to numb the pain and stress, attenuate it, or distract yourself from it.
Many of these external mechanisms, when used in this way, are quite destructive. You’ll recognize some or all of them:
- & so on…
These behaviors and substances, of course, have their own negative consequences, but it all stems from the state of your emotional metabolism.
Your emotional metabolism affects your physical metabolism.
The state of your emotional metabolism has a direct impact on your physical metabolism. This is often why people drop excess fat in Decode Your Cravings, even before we instruct them on any nutrition or lifestyle changes.
Here are a few of the mechanisms for how this happens:
- Your emotional metabolism affects your gut health and digestion. Digestion only works well in a parasympathetic (calm) state. If your emotional metabolism is clogged up or overloaded, you’ll be existing primarily in a sympathetic nervous system state (fight or flight). The brain and gut are on a feedback loop. Gut dysfunction can be caused by psychological factors and vice versa. This affects everything from nutrient absorption to autoimmune conditions.
- Your emotional metabolism affects your sleep. Great sleep requires the down-regulation of cortisol and a state of calmness. This is typically something that doesn’t go hand-in-hand with an overloaded or under-functioning emotional metabolism.
- Your emotional metabolism affects your food choices. One of the sayings I’m well known for is, “why you eat determines what you eat.” If you’re choosing to eat for nourishment, you’ll choose nourishing foods. If you’re choosing to eat for comfort, control, or coping, you’ll choose medicating foods (processed, hyper-palatable foods). The less your emotional metabolism is able to process, the more you’ll turn to foods that have negative consequences to your physical metabolism (or you’ll withhold from eating, resulting in metabolic down-regulation).
- Your emotional metabolism affects the quantity of the food you eat. Emotional hunger can down-regulate satiety and up-regulate the urge to eat. And because the foods you’re choosing to eat when you’re in this state are typically processed and hyper-palatable, it’s a perfect storm of mass calorie consumption. On the flip side, many people will become food avoidant, which also results in destructive consequences.
- Your emotional metabolism affects your hormones. This is a fairly natural consequence of everything else that’s going on. When you have poor sleep, poor eating habits, high stress, etc. it’s going to take a toll on your hormones.
Getting and keeping a body and life you love requires a healthy emotional metabolism just as much as it requires a healthy physical metabolism. Dysfunction with emotional metabolism—or simply living in a state where stress inputs are too vast for anybody’s emotional metabolism to process—is a key cause of failure for many people.
These 3 things are harming your emotional metabolism.
Now that you understand the impact of having a slow emotional metabolism, let’s talk about why it’s underperforming. There’s three primary reasons:
- Your emotional metabolism is being suppressed. What’s suppressing it? Negative self-talk, toxic & limiting beliefs, adverse experiences, shame, guilt, fear, lack of a healthy outlet, an unsafe environment, a lack of vulnerability, or all of the above. There’s a laundry lis of potentials, really. Yes, these things are inputs themselves that must be processed, but they also act as suppressors in that they limit the overall effectiveness of your emotional metabolism.
- Your emotional metabolism is under-developed. It’s possible that you lack the tools and skills for processing inputs adequately. In other words, you’re less emotionally resilient. You might crumble under circumstances that others are able to easily handle. This is okay, because you can learn new tools and develop skills by increasing your emotional intelligence (EQ).
- Your emotional metabolism is overloaded. There are circumstances where the inputs are too significant or in too great a supply for pretty much anyone’s emotional metabolism to process. This results in a simple state of overload, sometimes acute and sometimes chronic.
Of course, once you know what’s holding you back, you can begin the work to make change happen.
You can heal your emotional metabolism.
Just as a slow physical metabolism can be rehabbed and restored, so too can your emotional metabolism. As this happens, you’ll notice a huge improvement in your relationship with food, body, and Self.
Have you heard people talk about this concept having a “relationship with food, body, and Self” before? Perhaps you’ve struggled to fully understand it and how to influence these relationships in a practical way. Well, this is one of the specific mechanisms that influences those relationships.
While this is an expansive topic, here’s a basic three-point approach to speeding up your emotional metabolism:
- “Unclog” your emotional metabolism by stripping out all the baggage that’s suppressing it.
- Strengthen your emotional metabolism by acquiring new or more effective tools, healthier coping mechanisms, and a more resilient outlook and understanding of the world around you.
- Actively reduce the amount of stress inputs that are bombarding your emotional metabolism in the first place. Any human being on Earth can become emotionally overloaded, regardless of how resilient their emotional metabolism is. Reducing the amount of inputs is critical.
What do you feel is the current state of your emotional metabolism? Is this an area that you need to work on? Are you struggling with emotional eating, binge eating, stress eating, or other unwanted eating habits? If this is an area where you truly want to see powerful and lasting improvements, I’d recommend checking out our Decode Your Cravings online program.
Kevin Geary is the founder of RebootedBody.com and a respected expert on cravings, eating psychology, and long-term habit change. He’s worked with thousands of men and women in over 35 countries around the world through his online academy and programs like Shut Down Your Sugar Cravings.