We've all heard of emotional eating. I certainly am no stranger to the practice, but I've noticed something interesting about my relationship to food and how I use it to suppress what I'm feeling.
We usually associate emotional eating with negative emotions, a way to feel less pain, loneliness, sadness etc. But I have noticed that these days I use food to suppress my positive emotions as much or even more than the negative ones!
Most actors won't eat before a performance, because of nerves usually. My habit was to always eat before a performance in order to suppress the nerves. But nerves aren't just fear, they're excitement and energy too. By suppressing the nerves I am calmer, but I am also suppressing every other emotion! Which obviously is not the best idea as an actor. Suppression is not selective, the numbness is all encompassing. In 2013 I experimented with acting on an empty stomach and yes, I felt the nerves more and I had to work a little harder on grounding my energy, but I was also more connected to my body.
I use food to suppress joy, excitement and energy in order to keep myself working. I don't like sitting at a computer, I'd rather be up and running around doing stuff, riding my excitement and enthusiasm like a drug. But that admin needs to get done. Blog posts need to be written. And I have no self-discipline. So instead there is always something to nibble on next to my computer, something to keep me numb enough to concentrate on the task at hand.
I recognize that is an unhealthy habit and after flirting with the idea in 2013, my 2014 resolution is to stop using food as a crutch: to stop suppressing my excitement and my fear, my joy and my sorrow. I imagine I will be less focussed, less productive, less present and less balanced for a little while as I adjust, but I trust I will find a new, more intense focus, a deeper grounded presence and a better relationship with my nervous and excited energy on the other side. What's your healthy habit resolution?
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Danielle Benzon coaches entrepreneurs and performing artists in voice, acting and audition technique. She is also certified to teach the Meisner Approach through the True Acting Institute. Danielle is based in Vancouver, Canada.