Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
Feelings. They can be so fickle and difficult to manage, and they are so subservient to both our outer and inner experiences. They also linger, either adding to or sapping our energy. They are transient, moving from one state to another, sometimes slowly and sometimes faster than we have time to prepare for.
I've been teaching children about the Zones of Regulation, an emotional regulation curriculum that teaches kids how to manage and balance their emotions. The concept behind this framework is that our feelings and states of alertness can be categorized into four main zones, which are depicted by a color. The blue zone represents low energy feelings and states such as boring, tired and depressed. The green zone represents calm states such as peaceful, happy and ready to learn. The yellow zone describes heightened alertness and emotional states such as anxious, frustrated and afraid. The red zone describes extremely heightened states of alertness and very intense emotions like anger, terror and mania. While we all experience and transition through various emotional states, it is paramount to be able to manage those the feelings and bring ourselves back to the green state.
Believe it or not, these zones are helping me deal with food addiction. For instance, this morning I was in the yellow zone. In fact, I was probably teetering towards gold, meaning that I was a deep shade of gold. I woke up in a grumpy mood and felt like a raw nerve. My husband and I were bickering about stupid stuff, and I was holding an offense in my heart that I needed to let go of. As I stopped to consider my color zone, I reminded myself that I needed to get into the green zone as fast as possible. I started writing this blog, and the act of writing about my feelings actually decreased my anxiety level and I could feel myself moving into a softer shade of yellow. I then considered going to the gym, which I did not feel like doing. As I thought about not going, I felt my anxiety level go up. I thought about how I would feel after going to the gym, and this made my anxiety level go down. I knew I had to go to the gym. So I went. After class, I felt much better, but I was not totally out of the yellow zone. What was wrong? Why was I still feeling anxious? I then thought about the problem I had with a colleague at work yesterday, and I knew I had to ask him for forgiveness of how I handled the situation. I texted him, and he texted back stating that he forgave me and that we were on good terms. I felt lighter and I could feel myself moving into the green zone. I then went to the office, plugged in my essential oil diffuser, got a cup of tea and sat quickly as I waited for my first client. I am proud of myself of taking an active stance to regulate my emotions. I am happy that I am able to offer a safe, peaceful place for my clients to work through their zones.
Since I am an emotional eater, it is super important for me to manage my emotions without turning to food. I have been a whole week without baked goods, chocolate or candy. I do not miss it.