Are You Feeling Pain, Fatigue, or General Malaise?
Do you ever feel that your body has let you down in some way? Maybe it’s painful, stiff, or feels fatigued, preventing you from doing all you want to do?
Do you sometimes wonder if your body feels let down? Whether by not taking care of it properly, eating “junk food” on the run, getting by on too little sleep, using alcohol or drugs to help you wind down a little too often, or finding creative excuses to avoid regular exercise?
Why Repair is Important
Repairing your relationship with your body is much like repair in a relationship with an important person in your life. It involves listening with kindness and respect.
Have you ever experienced a genuine repair after a misunderstanding that occurred between you and a family member or friend? Did one or both of you come together to apologize or to talk about what happened and how you both felt in the situation?
Do you remember how this made you feel? Did you feel relief, tenderness, and even more respect and trust in that person afterward?
Repair in a relationship has been shown to deepen the bonds between two people. It is impossible to be perfect or to avoid falling short of expectations, both our own or others’. But owning up to mistakes or neglect and making commitments to improve can go a long way to strengthening relationships in the long run.
In the same way, we can improve our relationship with our bodies just as we would with someone we love. It’s as simple as listening and approaching our bodies with respect and compassion.
Messages from Within
Do you ever get a stomachache when you’re nervous about a meeting? Or a headache when you’re angry and resent agreeing to do something that you wish you hadn’t?
We all get messages from our internal world (organs, muscles, nerves) that tell us what we might be feeling under the surface. Most of us have been well-trained to override these messages, like taking the battery out of a smoke alarm.
The problem is that if we don’t pay attention to little warning signs, the alarms just get louder with a possible price to be paid in the end. In this case the price paid is all too often our physical and/or mental health.
Even the phrases we use like “gut feelings” or “heartache” tell us an essential truth about how our bodies express emotions or insights. Do you remember a time that you had an intuition about something, and you ignored it, only to find out later that you were right? Or maybe you did listen and it saved you from some hazardous result?
Our bodies are picking up and processing information constantly, both from our internal world and from our environments. There is a lot of intelligence that we can access if we can just learn to listen and trust our bodies. It’s a little like having our own internal CIA and FBI – our body is doing detective work and offering up reports!
Listen and Befriend Your Body
Of course, there are times that our bodies might overreact to external cues due to past trauma or PTSD. But even in this case, if you befriend your body and its underlying purpose of protecting you, then an alliance can form. You can feel when something is threatening and employ your brain to reality-check the situation to see if this perception is accurate.
Hearing and acknowledging the “survival” part of your brain can support it to calm down over time.
Our bodies are giving us cues all the time, but we often ignore these cues just to keep up with our fast-paced lives. What we need to do is to slow down and listen, to be curious about what is going on inside.
Slowing down can be as simple as taking a few minutes to breathe and notice sensations. Maybe it is as simple as needing more rest and saying “No” to extra obligations for a time. Or even asking questions to your body, like “what are you trying to tell me?” You might be surprised at the answers that come.
Taking the time to pay attention to our bodies can start to shift things inside and allow a little relaxation, in the same way that it is soothing to have someone take a few minutes just to listen to how you are.
5 Tips on How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Body
1. Lie down or sit quietly for 5-10 minutes once a day, just to breathe and notice any sensations in your body. Just be curious. Notice any insights that pop into your head as you listen. You don’t need to change anything. Your body will likely begin to naturally change as you pay attention.
2. Be curious about the times that you had a “gut feeling” about something feeling right or wrong. How did you know that? What in your body told you that?
3. Imagine what your body might be crying out for most. Is it healthier food, rest, or movement? Choose one thing to change at a time. Make small goals to avoid becoming overwhelmed or discouraged. Set yourself up for success! And remember, the overall goal is to be kind to yourself.
4. If you feel you have neglected or abused your body in some way, start by sincerely apologizing. Approach your body as if it were a close friend of yours. Make a promise to do better, just as you would if you wanted to show someone you love that you really cared about them.
5. Don’t judge your body’s sensations as wrong or bad, even if it is uncomfortable or inconvenient. Kind attention and acceptance is key to softening these bodily reactions, whether it is pain or fatigue. Think of a small child who may be acting out because they are needing your care or have their fears heard by you.
If you feel overwhelmed or confused by what your body is showing you, and you need support with how to listen and to heal from the “inside-out” we are here to help! Contact us today to ask about a free phone consult to hear how we can help.