North America has an obesity epidemic. They relate this to what people are eating and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. But these are not what is driving the issue. These are symptoms. Food is being used for other than nutrition. Companies make processed foods and serve excess portions because of demand. They’re not “causing” the problem.
Repressed emotions are often the deeper issue. Subconsciously, we’re trying to fill the void that expansive emotions would otherwise fill. Or we’re trying to dull out our emotions.
Drug and alcohol abuse, obsessive or extreme activities, avoidance behaviours, and so forth can have similar origins.
(A brief diversion is natural and helps balance. The issue is with excess and extreme.)
This repression may include deep traumas but also may be simple unresolved experiences from our response to emotionally unavailable parents, bullying, and other common occurrences.
Our culture has not developed a healthy relationship with emotions. This means our parents rarely had good skills to model. Rather, we learned to repress and avoid. Now we can learn new skills and let go of the unhealthy ones.
This can be challenging as many around us will encourage poor energy hygiene and we can have ingrained, long-held habits. This can affect our sense of safety, too. ie: it’s not felt safe to feel. We’re immersed in a collective pulling us back.
A recent re-watching of the Tom Hanks film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood reminded me of this. This is a story based on the friendship between Mr. Rogers and investigative journalist Tom Junod. Mr. Rogers and a few other children’s shows actively modelled better emotional awareness. Brené Brown researches this territory, writing books to help people have the courage to become more emotionally aware. Byron Katie’s The Work focuses on the related mental stories, driven by our unresolved emotions.
Long-repressed emotions eventually lead to other health problems. For health and quality of life, it’s very useful to become emotionally aware again, to get in touch with how we feel, and to allow what is arising so we can heal.