Done with Dieting Episode #67: Emotional Childhood

emotional childhood

How to create agency over your emotional life.

Do you find that your emotions are all over the place? Based on what other people do, or what is happening in the world, you don’t have a lot of control over your feelings?

So many of us give our power away when it comes to our emotional health – we can’t be happy until…

  • My kid cleans up after herself
  • My partner takes out the garbage
  • I lose weight
  • I have a new job

Because we can’t control other people, and have very little control over much of the world outside of our skin, relying on everything else to be right before we can be happy is an exercise in futility.

Tune in to podcast episode 67 to learn how to take back control over your emotional health.

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my group coaching program for women in midlife who are done with dieting, but still want to feel good! The Feel Good Sisterhood is open for enrollment, so click here to discover if group coaching is a right fit for you and your goals.

I am so excited to hear what you all think about the podcast – if you have any feedback, please let me know! You can leave me a rating and review in Apple Podcasts, which helps me create an excellent show and helps other women who want to get off the diet roller coaster find it, too.

What you’ll Learn from this Episode

  • What Emotional Childhood and Emotional Adulthood are?
  • How to know when you’re in Emotional Childhood and how to shift into Emotional Adulthood.
  • Why we want to be aware of when we’re in each of these states.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

On today’s episode of the done with dieting podcast, I am talking about how to create agency over your own emotional health. This is one that you’re definitely going to want to check out.

You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women in midlife, who are done with dieting, but still want to lose weight and feel good in your clothes. You know that diets don’t work long term. But you feel like there’s this secret that everyone else knows that you just haven’t figured it out yet.

I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. And I’ve helped hundreds of women get off the diet roller coaster change their relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies. Through this podcast, my goal is to help you too.

Welcome. Let’s get started.

Welcome back to the podcast. So, we are on episode number 67. And before we get started, I have a question for you. Do you identify as a people pleaser? Do you get irritated with other people? I know that I do. Do you feel resentful or find that other people create emotion in you?

If you answered, yes. Today’s podcast is going to change your life. Because today what we’re talking about is something called emotional childhood and emotional adulthood. Now, what emotional childhood and emotional adulthood are they’re not concepts that I actually introduced or made up. But rather, they are the concepts of my teacher and mentor Brooke.

And the idea here is that in emotional childhood, we abdicate responsibility of our emotional state to other people. We see this a lot in childhood. And so, that’s where the term comes from is when as a parent or as a teacher, you’ll hear parents and teachers talk to children this way. Oh, Sally, did Johnny hurt your feelings? Johnny go apologize to Sally because you hurt her feelings.

What’s happening there is we are attributing that someone else has the power to create emotion in myself or other people. Why this is important is because as we grow older, as we start to develop our own thoughts, and feelings, and start to be able to become the watcher of our own mind, and make our own decisions, and create new thoughts.

We also have the ability to think critically and to decide that we can empower ourselves in our own emotional health.

So, starting out with an emotional childhood. Emotional childhood by definition is really just blaming someone or something for our emotional state. We can say, you hurt my feelings, or we can say that the reason that I feel happy, or sad, or joy is because of this event. And this is a problem. The reason that it’s a problem is because when we think that our emotional state is created by external forces, it makes us go around and try to manipulate the situation.

And this is especially true when I asked, are you a people pleaser? Because when we are people pleasers, we think that we actually have the power to control other people’s emotions. We think that other people’s emotions are our responsibility.

And so, what happens then is we go around, and we try to manipulate situations so that those people are not feeling negative emotion. And in turn, what’s happening is we then don’t feel negative emotion. We try to manipulate other people so that they’re happy, so that we can then in turn be happy.

What I want to offer is that one, we cannot control other people’s emotions. And number two, other people are not responsible for our emotions.

We do this because it’s easier to blame someone else for our emotional state. It’s a heck of a lot easier to say, well, the reason I feel irritated is because you made me irritated. Versus taking responsibility for that, meaning that the reason I feel irritated is because of the way I’m thinking about what it is that you did. Right?

And so, when we give up emotional childhood, what happens is we are then 100% responsible for our own emotional state. And that doesn’t always feel good because we don’t always like how we feel. We don’t always like feeling sad. We don’t like feeling frustrated. We don’t like feeling angry.

And if we understand that the reason that we feel those emotions is within our control. Then, when we stay in those emotions for any longer period of time than is necessary, we feel like it’s our fault. That’s actually a problem that it’s not necessarily our fault, sometimes. Like, last week when I was talking about forgiveness. Sometimes we just have to go through and process emotions.

Another reason why this is a problem is because again, we believe that we’re at the mercy of other people’s actions and circumstances. And so, we think that other people need to behave a certain way in order for us to be happy. Again, we go through, and we try to manipulate these other people so that we can be happy all the time.

Meanwhile, we’re causing so much more work for ourselves, and those other people aren’t going to be happy, anyway. I see this a lot in my own practice where clients will come to me, and we will think that the reason that I’m unhappy is because of my weight. And if I just get down to 135 pounds, or if I just lose 15 pounds, 30 pounds, 50 pounds, that then I will be happy.

But what happens is we lose the weight and we’re not happy. Because our weight was never the problem in the first place. It was how we thought about our weight. The thought that we have that our weight isn’t good enough, or that we are too heavy, that we’re not thin enough, that creates the negative emotion.

But we blame it on our body. And when we blame it on our body, then we create this negative relationship with our body.

The first question that I think a lot of people ask is okay, how do we get out of emotional childhood? In order to get out of emotional childhood, we have to know when we are in emotional childhood. And when we’re in emotional childhood, we are in the blaming energy.

So, we are blaming everything else for our state. Well, I would be better, if. So, I would be happier, if I was in a smaller size. I would be happier, if it wasn’t raining out. I would be happier in my marriage, if my partner would just do these things. I would be happier in my job, if I could come to work in my pajamas.

So, we make all of these rules about when we can be happy. That we can’t be happy now because of these different circumstances. We can’t be happy because this other thing needs to be changed first.

And the problem is that when we try to change the circumstance, when we try to change other people that doesn’t work, right? Like, I’ve tried changing other people. I’ve tried changing my husband. He still puts the milk in the wrong place in the refrigerator. When I can change myself and he can put the milk in the wrong place in the refrigerator, it’s totally okay. Because it’s my thinking about it, that is the problem, not him.

So, the first step in getting out of emotional childhood is becoming aware of when we are blaming someone or something else for our current state. And this is important because when we’re blaming someone else, then we don’t have agency.

And so, one of the first questions that I like to ask my clients when they come to me with situations like this is how can we figure out, how can we see that what is happening here is a choice? How can we become more empowered in this situation?

So, you may, and this was very true at the beginning of the pandemic. That a lot of people felt anxiety, a lot of my clients felt just completely out of control. And it was because we have a false sense of control. We think that every single day is going to be just like the next day.

But what the pandemic really illustrated to us was that things are 100% out of our control. We just have an illusion of control. And so, when things feel out of control, what we can ask is, where is our level of control within this experience? Our level of control within the experience is always within how we view the circumstance or how we view the situation.

When we can look at a problem and try to have a better perspective on it and figure out, okay, how can I own my power in this situation? It immediately, creates relief. And so, that’s really how you get into emotional adulthood. When we are in emotional adulthood, what we do is we understand and acknowledge that our emotions are not because of the other person’s actions. It’s because of how we’re thinking about the other person’s actions.

So, I gave the example earlier, which is a true example that whenever my husband puts the milk in the wrong place in the refrigerator, it drives me crazy.

But I realized that my brain was just coming up with b*llsh*t. And that it really wasn’t that big of a problem. I thought it was at the time I used to yell at him about it. And that’s not very nice. I used to think that he was the problem. Why can’t he put the milk in the refrigerator in the right place?

And it wasn’t until I realized that I have the thought that he should put the milk back in the place where it goes. Even though, I never told him that it had a dedicated spot. This is what our brains do. Once I realized that he could go ahead and do whatever he does. And I get to decide how I want to think about it.

I’m going to do another podcast in a few about something called a manual, which is a set of expectations that we have on other people. Because these two topics are really closely related. But just suffice it to say that adults get to do whatever it is that they get to do. And how we think about it is what actually creates our emotions.

I could think that because he put the milk in the wrong place and I’ve asked him to put it in the right place, that means that he doesn’t love me. But that’s not the case at all. And so, I get to choose what I want to think about that situation. I get to decide that he doesn’t put the milk in the right place in the refrigerator, and that’s 100% okay.

Now, here’s the subtlety with this explanation. I can decide that I want to stay irritated when he puts the milk in the wrong place in the refrigerator. I get to decide that. But it’s no longer me attributing my irritation to him. I acknowledge that I’m irritated because I think he should put it in the right place.

And so, it’s subtle, but it is a really important distinction. I’m no longer saying that he is the cause of my irritation. I understand that I’m irritated because of my thoughts that I believe he should do this. So, I just wanted to make that distinction.

Now, when we are ready for emotional maturity, what we want to do is we are then saying that I am responsible for my own happiness and no one else. I think that this creates so much more pleasure in our lives. Because then, what happens is we don’t need other people to do certain things for us. We can actually meet our own needs.

And I think that this is something that we have wrong in therapy, where especially like marriage therapy, right? Where two people come together in therapy and the therapist says, okay, partner A, you tell partner B what your needs are. And partner B, you need to meet those needs.

And then, partner B, you say that what your needs are and partner A, you need to meet those needs. What emotional adulthood and emotional maturity does is it says to each person, Hey, go out and get your own needs met. And then, just enjoy being together. I know that this is a weird concept because we’ve been taught this other way for so long that other people need to meet our needs.

But when we can create and meet our own needs, then we are going to be so much happier because then we’re in control and we know how to do it. We don’t have to rely on someone else to make us happy. It completely changes the game.

Now, I want you to be aware that, yes, we want to be in emotional adulthood all of the time. But moving in and out of emotional adulthood is going to be the case for most of us. There are times that I still find myself where I’m blaming someone else for my situation.

Then I realize, oh, you know what? I’m blaming them. And then, I can get to work on how to not blame them and how to look at my situation from a place of empowerment versus feeling at their mercy. Because no one wants to be a victim to someone else. Right?

This whole concept is the think, feel, act cycle in motion. With the think, feel, act cycle, I’ve talked about this a lot on the podcast. But other people’s actions become our circumstance. And what we think about them is what creates that meaning.

So, when I asked my husband to take out the garbage and he doesn’t do it, what do I think about that? There are lots of different things that I can think about it. I can think that he doesn’t think that I’m important or I can think, oh, he must have just forgot. Both of those thoughts create completely different emotional experiences.

When we feel an emotion, then that drives our actions. And how do you think I’m going to show up in my marriage if I think, oh, my husband forgot to take out the trash versus he did it on purpose. You did it against me. I’m going to have a very different reaction or treat my partner very differently if between those two scenarios. Right? We are completely in power of what we think.

Now, two things come up when we talk about this. The first one is, if I don’t influence other people’s feelings, then can’t I just go around and say mean things to people. And say, Hey, it’s not my fault, it’s how you thought about it.

And theoretically, yes, you would be true. But we do have to still acknowledge when I do hurt someone’s feelings to apologize for it. So, I can’t go around calling people j*rks. And then say, oh, you know what? That’s your fault.

But what I can do is if I say something to someone that may be insensitive or that may have caused hurt feelings, I can definitely accept responsibility for that and apologize.

But here’s the other thing that when we are in emotional adulthood, we don’t go out and intentionally try to hurt other people’s feelings. It’s just not going to happen. Because we understand that we are completely within our own power.

Now, the second piece to this is I’m totally not saying that you have to change your thinking. But awareness around what it is that we are thinking and how we feel is the awareness that we create around our thinking is the reason that we feel jealous, or irritated, or resentful, or sad, or happy, or love.

It isn’t because of what someone else did. It’s because of how I think about it. It’s a really important distinction there. But we still get to choose how we want to think about situations and how we want to feel about them.

No one saying that your thinking is incorrect or that we should never have negative emotion. There may be times when we want to feel hurt, or angry, or resentful. There may be times when we want to choose to feel negative emotion and it’s 100%, okay.

So, to summarize, emotional childhood is when we abdicate responsibility for our emotions to other people, or other circumstances, or events. Whereas emotional adulthood is when we acknowledge that the reason that we feel a particular emotion is because of our thinking.

I just hope that this information is helpful to you, and it allows you to see your relationships with other people as well as yourself in a different light. We’re definitely going to be coming back to this concept again in future episodes, because it’s really a jumping off point for so many other ideas that I coach my clients on.

So, have an amazing week everyone and I will talk to you next time. Bye-bye.

Hey, thanks for listening.

If you’re done with dieting and would like to work with me as your coach, I’d like to invite you to reach out to myself and my team to ask about programs and pricing. Go to to get started today. I can’t wait to hear from you.

See you next week.

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