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The Body Doesn’t Lie.

0 Heart it! Sarah Pederson 22
May 18, 2018
Sarah Pederson
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Go inside and listen to your body, because your body will never lie to you.  Your mind will play tricks, but the way you feel in your heart, in your guts, is the truth.  ~ Don Miguel Ruiz; The Four Agreements

I recently attended a webinar by Gabby Bernstein called, “How to Do what you’ve been Dreaming Of.”  She spoke of the power of giving our story away for the betterment of the greater whole, and that we have personal wisdom to offer due to life experience.  Very true.

Later that day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and read the sentences above by Don Miguel Ruiz. I felt every word permeate my bones, and knew that this was part of my story.  Our bodies are the barometer for wellness.  We may not see the storm coming, but the change in air pressure tells us otherwise.

My body has been the source of much joy.  I am a very physical and experiential person.  I love hiking, singing, walking, running, biking, weight lifting, and yoga.  My body gives me connection to the earth. The feeling I get afterward is peacefulness, energy, and oneness. I exercise daily simply for the joy of it.  Having a fit body at age 44 doesn’t hurt, either.

My body has also been the source of much pain.  I was an overweight child who was bullied for several years because of it, I was sexually assaulted at age 11, and was in an abusive relationship as a teenager. My body was a target for others upon which to inflict pain and suffering.

As a result, my body has been a source of much confusion.  At the same time, my body has been the constant knowledge source.

One childhood summer, my body started talking.  I was losing a lot of weight, and I was extremely tired.  I went to the doctor for months.  I remember the trips to the lab, giving vial upon vial of blood; watching it drain out of my veins, in hope that this would be the last time I’d need to do this because the answer would be found.  Finally, an answer.  Hyperthyroidism.

I needed to learn to listen to my body and respond accordingly, in order to stay healthy.  As I grew older, I noticed different symptoms that would arise, telling me that I needed another lab visit and probably a medicine adjustment.  My body was telling me the truth about things I couldn’t see, yet were still happening.  I took loving action to remedy the situation.

My body also started talking to me in my early 30’s.  I was getting massive pains in my hands and shoulders, migraines, minor panic attacks, acne outbreaks, hair loss and brittleness, uncontrollable fatigue, and very dry skin.  The migraines, hand pain, and fatigue required multiple doctor visits and tests to rule out bigger health concerns. The doctor’s diagnosis?  “There is nothing wrong that tests could find, but are you experiencing a lot of stress?

Um, YES!

My body was demanding me to see my life’s truth.  I could only tell myself so many lies that my marriage was going to improve, my husband’s PTSD being healed was the answer, that if I got the promotion and lived up to my full potential, that if everyone else was happy that I’d be happy, that being enough without being too much, would have me feeling better.

As God would have it, my 20th class reunion invite arrived. My group of girlfriends were deciding whether or not to attend.  I remember my smart ass comment, “one in, all in.” I was banking on no one saying yes.  Wrong! The verdict was in, and we were  attending social night. I’ll never forget going into a blind panic.  My heart felt like it was going to burst through my chest, head felt like it was going to explode, and my body was shaking like a leaf.  Shit, something’s going down and it isn’t good.  My body stayed in fight or flight for the months leading up to the event.

And then the lies started kicking into overdrive.  My mind was consumed with going to this event and seeing people I hadn’t seen since graduation.  What were they going to think of me?  I was the girl who “let” her boyfriend hurt her.  I was the girl who wasn’t good enough for the police to help in keeping this guy away when pleas for help were made to people in authority. I was the girl who simply wasn’t enough.

I decided that the only way I was going to handle attending was with a lot of liquid courage.  Several beers before the event, and I’d be numb enough to deal with whatever arose. To my surprise, it was such a warm welcome that I was in disbelief. The lies I was telling myself didn’t come true. Quite the opposite.

And yet, the body pain didn’t go away, and the thoughts about myself were only getting worse. They spilled over into work, friendships, marriage, and parenting.

It was time.  That’s what I remember the voice of intuition telling me. Once and for all, it was time to confront my life’s reality, and become healthy. No more denying, hiding, pretending, proving, isolating, performing, avoiding.  This was it! Time for truth to lead the way.

My body told me my soul was the source of pain.  The lies I told myself since childhood were invoking serious damage. Challenging and releasing the old way of thinking about and seeing myself, and replacing with the truth of who I am, was going to provide body, mind, and soul health.  Having an amazing therapist and an Al-Anon sponsor to listen and challenge my perceptions provided a huge amount of healing and relief. A newly created relationship with God was foundational for my body, mind, and soul to live in peace, joy, and love.  I never knew this was possible.

And while life still happens, challenges arise, and circumstances throw curve balls, my body still tells me when it’s time to use my healthy tools rather than working myself to exhaustion or placing pressure on myself to control situations or people. It makes all the difference in the world.

Maybe you haven’t had similar traumatic experiences that I described.  However, what I do know is that many of us have our bodies screaming a message about the state of our wellbeing.  Maybe we can’t sleep. Our mind is racing. Our body hurts. Our heart hurts. The pain remains.

What CAN we do to optimize our health and listen to the truth our bodies are saying?  These seven tools have worked for many years to improve my wellbeing and can be practiced by anyone:

Willingness to live in reality about how I’m feeling rather than avoiding or dismissing. Making the decision that my state of wellness was a priority.
Pausing in stillness to listen and feel the body. Is there peace of mind? Pain-free?  Feeling tired or rested? What foods is the body craving?  Thirsty?  These are great initial indicators pointing me in the direction of healthy decisions.  I can know whether to drink a glass of water, eat more veggies, go to bed earlier, or choose exercise that matches my energy level.  This typically solves my body discomfort.
Keeping a water bottle and snack with me at all times. Staying hydrated and maintaining my blood sugar levels keeps my energy up and my mood stable.
Practicing daily meditation, yoga, and breath practices to slow my body and mind, allowing focus upon one thing instead of the plethora of expectations and distractions encountered through the day. This was a game changer to improve my anxiety and expectations to keep an unsustainable life pace.
Feel the feelings and sharing with a TRUSTED person. No carrying things inside, no offloading, no denying or avoiding, but owning the experiences instead.
Creating a healthy social environment. Removing myself from toxic people and situations allowed me to breathe again. Surrounding myself with healthy people and activities allowed my authenticity to shine through.
Proactive annual wellness visits. Getting routine tests and making lifestyle changes to support normal body functioning allowed me to make dietary and exercise adjustments before causing harm.

Are we listening to what our bodies say? Are we willing to be honest with ourselves to hear and accept the message? Are we willing to take steps to support ourselves with LOVING action?  In my experience, the body’s intelligence reigns supreme. We can’t outrun the truth.

We are worth our health. We are worth our wellbeing. We are worth the rewards that caring for ourselves offers. We are born to thrive. Those we love and support will thank us for the investment.

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