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Practicing Am I Hungry? Concepts in Other Areas of My Life

By Charlene Rayburn

As I integrate the Am I Hungry?® concepts into my daily practices, I notice how easily they can be applied to other areas of our lives. Today, I want to share a couple of the concepts that are especially supportive for me right now.

woman stressedStress is a huge trigger for me. It can send me running for something soothing to eat before I know what’s happened, or whether or not I’m even hungry. Now, here’s what I’m learning about emotions: the Am I Hungry? pendulum metaphor perfectly applies! Similar to overeating, haven’t we all overindulged our emotions by inappropriately lashing out when we’re angry, or sulking for far too long about something someone said that hurt our feelings? Or at the other side of the pendulum swing, just as deprivation ignores our hunger, how many times have we tried to disregard or suppress our feelings, only to have them continue to nag at us. But the sweet spot is in the middle, where we pay attention without obsessing and hear what our emotions are trying to tell us–for example angry can mean one of our values is being threatened, or fear can be a useful word of caution.

To help move us toward that subtle arc in the center of the pendulum, we can ask ourselves the Am I Hungry? questions, “What do I want? What do I need? What do I have?” Those 3 questions can help us make choices and take actions that are neither over- nor under-reactive, but rightly aligned to the situation. Here’s an example:

A family member or co-worker said something and we’re feeling angry. We feel our resentment rising. We can pause before we reactively “nut up” and ask ourselves “What do I want?” then notice our response, “What I really want is to regain some equilibrium and perspective from my hurt feelings so I can determine the appropriate actions to take.”

Then we can ask, “What do I need?” and realize, “I need to redirect my attention from the insensitive comment and spend some time with someone who has a way of making me laugh and feel better.”

“What do I have?” I have my friend, Sue, who has a great sense of humor. Then decide, “I think I’ll give her a call.” Afterward we can do the valuable work of sorting through our thoughts about the comment with a more balanced perspective. Then, we can acknowledge that we all occasionally make minor, insensitive comments and decide to “let it go.” Or, if it remains significant, we can confront the person who made the comment. But now we can do so with increased clarity and calmness.


About the author

Charlene Rayburn, CVCC, lives her passion for mindfulness and intentional leadership by serving as a personal and professional leadership coach, by managing a department of dedicated employees for a Fortune 500 sized health insurance organization, and by facilitating Am I Hungry?® workshops and coaching sessions. She has coached extensively with individuals and groups outside the corporate world, as well as with executives, leaders, and teams in non-profit, private, public, governmental, and educational organizations spanning the globe. Charlene received her coaching certificate through the Center for Coaching Mastery at Coachville, LLC, and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Management from Davenport University. She is a member of the National Management Association. One of her most emotionally challenging and rewarding experiences was serving as a volunteer at the Center for Battered Women. Charlene currently lives in Michigan and enjoys spending time with her husband of over 20 years, reading, learning, cooking, practicing yoga, and watching her grandson grow, who lives with his dad, her stepson in Fort Worth, Texas.

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