We all know people who are so full of complaints and criticism that you can’t be with them for more than five minutes before they start to spew their litany of grievances. We also know people who endure the most egregious insults and emotional abuse in silence, and never or rarely vent their hurt or anger about it. Both ends of this continuum are dangerous places to be in terms of managing emotional eating. Here’s why.
Complainers and relentless critics generally are all worked up over something. If it’s not the school bus being late, it’s the plumber leaving a mess after fixing the toilet. If they’re not railing against high prices, they’re finding fault with their loved ones not seeing enough of them. The question is: Are you one of these people? Moreover, if you are, what does this do to your general mood and to your eating? My take is that people who are constants critics seethe inside and experience a great deal of inner turmoil when things don’t go well with them. They don’t roll with the punches or go with the flow very well or very often. They’re tense and often see themselves as victims in life. And, more to the point of this blog, they eat to comfort themselves.
At the other end of the spectrum are people who are stoic, rarely complain about how life or others are treating them, and act as if this is what they expect or deserve. Are you one of these people? Moreover, what does this do to your general mood and to your eating? My hunch here is that you stuff most of your feelings. When your kids forget your birthday, you make excuses for them and to yourself. When your employer chews you out in front of your colleagues, you tell yourself he or she must be having a bad day. When you husband gets drunk and your wife overspends on the budget you agreed upon, you say nothing and hope tomorrow will be a better day. And, you eat to keep your feelings tamped down because anger scares you.
Living a balanced life is more art than science. You can’t simply pick a center point and decide, “I’m going to be this way all the time. I’m always going to react this way.” Sometimes it is better to hold your tongue even though criticism of others is warranted, and sometimes it’s better to speak up because you want to stop someone’s behavior from occurring again and becoming habit. Think about how other’s view you: as a CC, a Constant Critic or Complainer, or as a, PP, a Perfect Patsy or Pushover. Be honest, even though you don’t like the fact that you are either way. Know that this behavior is changeable and that you’re not stuck with it for life. Also, reflect on how your emotional eating is tied to being either too critical or too passive. In the next few weeks, try on new behaviors that are different from how you usual respond to situations and see if that helps to reduce your emotional eating.