My body is wise, and she sends me signals every minute of the day: Feed me. I’m thirsty. Go to sleep.
Part of my journey to accept and love my body was a promise to listen to her. There were a lot of years when I ignored her distress signals. And there were plenty of times when I’d ignored her for so long that I couldn’t even hear her anymore. Her cries were camouflaged by the cacophony of my life.
It was easier to ignore my body than attend to her because I didn’t want to confront all the uncomfortable feelings that arose when I did spend time thinking about her.
Creating a relationship with my body has forced me to excavate her voice so that I can hear her even when she whispers now.
The thing is, I don’t always like what she says. I can be stubborn and insist on learning lessons in hard, sometimes painful ways before I accept them. Take my obsession with diet soda as a good example.
Breaking Up with DDP
Mind had been telling me for a long time to stop drinking the DDP. That’s Diet Dr. Pepper. But I loved it. I craved its cold fizziness first thing in the morning. Even though I knew that it was not a healthy way to love Body, I drank it anyway. As vices go, I figured it could be much worse.
But Mind got fed up and had a conversation with Body. And Body took charge. She decided that she’d make me quit drinking the soda since I refused to give it up on my own.
How did she manage that task? She made Mouth erupt in painful, aggravating ulcers.
It took me a while to clue into her strategy. And then I tested it a handful of times, just to see if she meant business. To be sure. And she was sure, all right. Every time I drank a DDP, Mouth got an ulcer.
So now I don’t drink DDP. Hardly ever. And never very much if I do risk the indulgence.
Body taught me that she knows what’s best for me, and that if I’ll listen to her sooner rather than later, I can avoid a lot of hurt and aggravation.
How to Listen to Your Body
The idea of listening to our bodies can be confusing, understandably. How do you listen to your body when it doesn’t actually talk?
You must learn to interpret the ways she does communicate with you. Just like learning any new language, you have to practice real-world conversations if you want to deepen your understanding. But unlike other languages, Google Translate can’t help you when you’re stuck because each of our bodies communicates with us differently.
For example, my body tells me:
- I’m stressed and am trying to do too much in a hurry when I get constipated.
- I’m healing something (could be physically, emotionally, or mentally) when I need to rest a lot.
- I need to move more when my lower back gets tight and pain flares down my right leg.
- I’m hearing a truth when I get goose bumps and instant tears prick my eyes.
- I feel expansive in my chest and radiant all over when I’m doing something aligned with my purpose, like when I gave the Ignite Charlotte talk.
I’ve learned how to interpret my body’s messages by being curious and by paying attention. It’s a slow process, and I still have a lot to learn about my body’s unique language, but the reward of getting to know my body so closely is worth the effort.
I have so much more trust in myself and in my body now that we communicate regularly. This greater level of trust in my body spills over into other areas of my life too. I trust my intuition, or gut instinct, when I get a clear feeling that something is not right for me. I don’t second guess myself anymore, and I take better care of myself because I can anticipate many of my body’s needs. She shows me when she likes the care I offer her.
Even though my body doesn’t talk to me in a traditional way, we’re in constant communication. And I’m so grateful to listen to her wisdom.
Artwork by Mica Gadhia