Listening to our bodies should be a priority, however we opt to ignore this wise old voice over and over again.
"In every effective conversation it’s critical to be a good listener and your relationship with your body is no different."
There are so many competing things going on in our heads that overshadow the real messages in our hearts. What I am talking about here is that subtle voice that tells you it’s time to rest. Maybe it’s telling you that it would best to skip the extra Twinkie today. Or maybe it’s that instinctual voice that is telling you to run or for some reason to go left instead of right. It all comes from the same place and can guide you to health or safety. Alternatively you can disregard that feeling or message but it may come at a price. Some of us may not think we even hear anything meaningful to latch onto to make a choice, but it’s always there and you will always get clues.
I certainly speak from experience and I have spent a good part of my adult life ignoring my body. I recall many binges of many different things all across the spectrum of the “not so good things” to put into your body or do to your body. There were some things that I did everyday habitually to the point of adrenal exhaustion. I do think the human body is resilient and the liver is very capable of detoxing, but even these masterpieces that we call the human body can only take so much. Where the body seems to get into trouble is the days, months and years of these toxins compounding to the point where the systems start to break down one by one. I can certainly pin point times in my life where my body was giving me a clear message. There were other times where it was not so obvious because I was being stubborn in my thought process. One major example of this that is typically seen as a positive turned into something that was ultimately detrimental for me. The first few years of weight training was really good and I felt empowered. My body was growing and I was getting stronger, but that changed as I pushed myself too much. Exercise is obviously life sustaining, but when you do too much it becomes a burden for the body.
The key takeaway from my experience was that in my effort to get stronger, bigger and faster I ultimately zapped my body from doing its best to maintain balance. On top of that I was dealing with a chronic health condition that was really seemingly absent at the time but in reality I needed even more to listen to my body. What my body was telling me was that I was going too long and too hard and this came across in various ways from sleep issues to abnormal aches and pains and to food intolerances, etc. Although I didn’t really learn to identify or maybe even accept these food intolerances as an issue, but ultimately my stubbornness led to some leaky gut issues. How could they be food issues? I am taking my medicine right? That’s the line of questioning really and ultimately it led me back to my Gastroenterologist for some steroids or maybe to up my dose of maintenance meds. I chose to ignore my intuition and opt for the standard approach which in hindsight it wasn’t really what my body was telling me to do.
This same mentality carried over into a number of other areas in my life. Work was a prime example of how I lost focus of what my body was telling me. For starters my soul was screaming at the top its lungs to get out of dodge. You need to be doing something different with your life is the message that I kept getting over and over but I pushed so hard against this that my head hurt, my body hurt, my life hurt. It took me a very long time to make an exit mentally. Gratefully I made this transition to something that I truly cared for and will allow me to best use my god given abilities and talents.
Somewhere along the line you knew that I had to talk about stress. I’m sure anyone who has any knowledge of personality types can read in a millisecond that I am of the type prone to have anxiety. This doesn’t mean that you can’t co-exist with stress. You will never get rid of anxiety or stress, but can choose to not let it rule your life. Rule my life is exactly what I allowed to happen for decades. I think I have finally found some formulas that work and it does start with making a conscious choice to want something better. Quite honestly your health and well-being depends on this choice! My body has been telling me for so long that it is worn out from the countless hours of worry about everything under the sun. Ultimately the hormone cascade decline resulted in disease which is the natural progression of overthinking everything. I do feel that most of us that are in this type of condition of chronic worry don’t even realize we do it or don’t know how to stop it. I don’t think you completely stop it, at least I haven’t but it is more of the “normal” variety of anxiety now. I mostly have changed this by listening to my body in other areas like diet, habits, work, exercise which has translated into my ability to calm my mind more. I was so toxic that it’s no wonder that I couldn’t ever get a grip on my thoughts.
Really take a listen and really try to understand what your body is saying. In every effective conversation it’s critical to be a good listener and your relationship with your body is no different. If you are one to ignore these seemingly minor and small things please do take note that they add up over time. The result is not a life of fullness or well-being but rather a life of chaos. You do have some control over this and it starts with really picking up on the queues that your body is giving you through events, body aches, and people, intuition, and light bulb moments and so on.
Ian Sandage is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who speaks from the personal experience of someone with autoimmune disease and the highs and lows of a health journey