Is emotional childhood hindering your weight loss?

Uncategorized Mar 16, 2019

Emotional childhood occurs when we don’t take responsibility for managing our feelings.


Most of us act from a place of emotional childhood at certain times in our lives, often emotional childhood shows itself in our relationships, but it can also appear in relation to how we are eating when we are trying to lose weight.


So, what is emotional childhood?

We are in emotional childhood when we react to our emotions by acting out or avoiding our feelings rather than taking full responsibility for them.


I notice that some of my clients are in a place of emotional childhood when they tell me about their weight challenges. Some of them may blame their genetics or upbringing, or a health condition for their current weight. Others may blame diets they’ve done previously as the reason they’ve lost and regained weight multiple times, and others may blame the circumstances of their week, such as entertaining clients, as the reason for a gain in weight.


It may be more challenging for those of us with certain hormonal conditions such as PCOS or thyroid conditions, or menopause related hormone changes to lose weight. However, if we don’t blame those conditions for our weight loss challenges and recognise that we can absolutely manage our weight if we take responsibility for what we eat, then we give them less power over us.


When we are in emotional adulthood, we are accepting that we are responsible for how we think and feel in every moment. When we are functioning as emotional children, we are blaming other people or circumstances for how we feel, how we act, and for the results we get in our life.


There is no class offered in school that teaches us how to be emotional adults. As children we think that everything going on in our lives is what causes our feelings, and this assumption is only perpetuated by how we are raised. Adults constantly make comments to children such as “Sally, you really hurt that little girl’s feelings. You need to say you are sorry for hurting her feelings” or “Did it hurt your feelings when that boy said those mean words to you?” We teach children at a young age that other people are responsible for how we feel, and it becomes so ingrained in us that we don’t even question it or recognise how disempowering it is.


However, once we have reached adulthood, our brains are developed enough to be able to understand what we are thinking. We can reflect on our thoughts, and therefore we can decide what to think and what to feel in any given moment, no matter what anyone else does, or what other things happen, in our lives.


Just to recap, emotional adulthood means:

  • Taking responsibility for our pain and for our joy, no matter what the circumstances of our life are
  • Not expecting other people to “make” us happy
  • Not expecting others to “make” us feel secure
  • Appreciating that we are the only ones who can hurt our feelings and that we do so with our own thoughts.

Emotional adulthood behaviours occur when we take responsibility for how we feel and make choices for how we want to feel. When we do this, we end up so much more empowered and get to be the people we truly want to be instead of existing in this default emotional childhood space. Rather than acting like a child out of control, we can allow ourselves to feel our feelings without acting out to avoid, distract, or blame others. From a clean place, we take the kind of action that produces the results we really want.


Even when successfully functioning in emotional adulthood, you might take actions you regret at times. But the trick is to be observant and compassionate with our selves.


Knowing you are responsible for the way you feel means you understand you are responsible for the way you behave too. This is important because you’ll need to decide who you want to be and how you want to act in the world. Because of this, people functioning from emotional adulthood can own up to their mistakes rather than blaming their actions on how someone else made them feel.


If, as you read this, you recognise some of the traits of emotional childhood in yourself you will not be alone. It’s important that you avoid harsh criticism and judgment for any thoughts, feelings, or actions you don’t like in yourself. When we go from blaming other people and things for the way we feel to learning this concept, the tendency may be to turn the blame on ourselves.


That is not the intention. The intention is to help you notice and be curious about it and treat yourself with kindness because now you know that you can change if you choose to. When functioning from emotional childhood, we usually take action that we end up regretting, and then we feel so bad that we abdicate responsibility for it. When we take responsibility as emotional adults, the incidences of showing up in a way we don’t intend is greatly reduced. But if we do act in a way we later regret, we own our actions completely, make any redress necessary and move on.


Being an emotional adult requires more effort than lingering in emotional childhood. It requires significantly more responsibility. But anyone who is an emotional adult knows it’s worth it. Taking that step toward managing yourself and your mind so you aren’t dependent on other people or things for how you think, feel, or act is truly liberating.


If you would like to chat about circumstances in your life are affecting your weight loss efforts and be coached on how you can take your power back, please get in touch. I offer a limited number of free weight loss consultations each month.  Click here to book one of these on my calendar.


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