Most of my blogs in the last few months involved that I cited examples of my children and parenthood, I will once again cite an interesting discovery that I made, my daughter had to get her measles vaccination at school, and after they gave vaccines, the teacher handed out sweets. This made me realise and made me think that a person’s emotional eating can start as early as childhood, and that we get conditioned when we experience physical pain and emotional stress by being soothed with food. Society has many adults walking around with “big dummies” because we were not taught as children to self-soothe internally. In counselling, we learn techniques that can help us to self-soothe and it can be a safe space where you can identify emotions. Journalling is one of the forms where we process our emotions and in turn we self-soothe. Grounding techniques can help with self-soothing. Creating space and taking part in a self-care activity as simple as applying hand cream is a form of self-soothing, and going for a run is a form of self-soothing.

Looking at what emotions and feelings are, is important.

Feelings vs Emotions

Emotions: Precede feelings, are physical (biological), basic and instinctual. They result in  physical and psychological changes that influence thought and behaviour. Because they are physical, they can be objectively measured by blood flow, brain activity, facial micro- expressions, and body language. Example: You smile, laugh or get a fright.

Ekman proposed seven basic emotions: fear, anger, joy, sad, contempt, disgust, and surprise; but he changed it to six basic emotions: fear, anger, joy, sadness, disgust, and surprise. Emotions are neuro-physiological reactions unleashed by an external or internal stimulus (emotions are physical).

Feelings: Are a self-perception of specific emotions, being a  subjective expression of emotions (feelings are mental).

Addiction is a way of escaping personal reality and another form of self-soothing. We cannot stand to be present with our feelings and emotions, by using substances and engaging in compulsive behaviours we suppress our emotions to cope with feelings.

This need to run away is motivated by the overwhelming fear of facing our feelings. The reality is, we do not understand what it is that we are feeling. So we instinctively label everything as one of the 6 different base emotions.

Managing our emotions and feelings: The ABCDE Model helps us understand the meaning of our reactions to adversity and life’s challenges. Remembering our reactions are based on our thoughts.

The ABCDE Model can be used to process emotions and discover feelings about activating events.  To change your emotions and feelings you need to change your belief/thoughts about a situation, to do this you need to examine your thought life.

Focus on the thoughts that come before your emotions and you’ll find that you can control your feelings and your mood.

When you process your feelings and emotions below are the questions you need to ask yourself.

Activating event – What is the Activating event?—What happened? What did I

do? What did others do? What idea occurred to me? What emotions was I feeling?

Beliefs – Beliefs (dysfunctional)—What do I believe about the Activating event?

Which of my beliefs are my helpful/self-enhancing beliefs and which are my

dysfunctional/self-defeating beliefs?

Consequences- Am I feeling anger, depression, anxiety, frustration, self-pity,

etc.? Am I behaving in a way that doesn’t work for me? (drinking, attacking,

moping, etc.)

Dispute- Dispute the Beliefs to find which are dysfunctional—What is the

evidence that my belief is true? In what ways is my belief helpful or unhelpful?

What helpful/self-enhancing belief can I use to replace each self-defeating or

dysfunctional belief?

Effective new belief and emotional consequence- What helpful/self-enhancing new belief can I use to replace each self-defeating or dysfunctional belief? What are my new feelings?

I believe it is vitally important to identify emotions and feelings and to process them in a healthy manner alongside healthy self-soothing. 

My practice is currently closed as I am on maternity leave:

For support and guidance please contact SADAG 0800 567 567

From June 2023 I will be available again.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for an online counselling session. Let’s together create an environment where you can connect with yourself again, an environment that fosters and encourages authenticity. An environment where you can follow your gut and get to know what it looks like.

After doing an intake I might be able to help you with a few sessions using BWRT (Brainworking Recursive Therapy) read more about BWRT on another blog on my website:, or we will use another technique depending on your unique needs.

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