There are three levels to emotion. The first level comprises the physiological changes that are triggered by emotion which is stimulated by the nervous system, such as hormonal output, and immune changes, which makes up the fight or flight response to threat.
The first level of emotion is not to do with conscious control. These are physiological changes that can not be observed from the outside. These are responses that just happen. The stress response to flight or fight are harmful when chronically triggered. When these responses are triggered chronically, and there appears to be no way to be able to act in order to defeat the perceived threat or to avoid it, then what can happen is that these stress mechanisms can lead to an inappropriate need to self-sooth, for example sleeping too much or on the other end of the spectrum eating too much.
The second level of emotion is comprised of our emotional displays that can be seen by others either with or without our own awareness. The emotional display is signalled through body language, picked up by others while the person might be totally and completely oblivious to the emotions that are being communicated. This body communication can be clearly read by those around us, regardless of our own intentions. People pick up sensations of non-verbal signals which are composed of mannerisms, tones, gestures, facial expressions, and timing. This can also be described as ‘acting out’.
The third level of emotion is to do with the experience of emotion within, it is how you are feeling on the inside, it is a conscious awareness of your emotional state as well as how it is that your body is feeling. The goal is to be able to self regulate, which is to do with emotional competence, to deal in an appropriate and satisfactory way with the feelings and desires that are happening within you. Emotional competence is what is needed to be developed in order to protect from hidden stresses that create a risk to health.
So, first to,in order to be be emotionally competent requires that you have the capacity to feel your emotions. To be aware. Then to be able to express your emotions effectively, to not only assert your needs, but also to maintain your integrity of your emotional boundaries. Next, is to be able to distinguish between your psychological reactions of what is happening in the present moment compared to the past. You need to be able to distinguish your conscious present and presence needs, as apposed to your unconscious unsatisfied needs from the past. Last but not least, is to have awareness of your genuine needs that do not require satisfaction in some external unhealthy way, and to be able to be aware if you are repressing your emotions in order to gain the acceptance or approval of others, which is unhealthy.
The experience of stress has three components; the event, the meaning, and the reaction. Based on your personality and current psychological state these will outline your relationship between being stressed and your stress response. Every stress event is unique and happens in the present, yet, there is also a residue from your past. Stress is defined as a state of disharmony, the stress is a threat to the system, and that threat can be either real or imagined, but the bottom line is that threat is disturbing your bodies homeostasis (happy place). There are three factors that lead to stress. First, uncertainty. The second, lack of information. And Lastly, loss of control. Those that are struggling with weight are also struggling with all three of these factors.