Your body responds to everything you think, feel, and do. You and your body are so intimately connected that you cannot make a move without hearing your body’s opinion. There is no time during the day in which you and your body are not living the same life. Think about that—with everyone else in your life, you have moments of separation. With your body, that simply cannot happen.
Which is great news, actually. Your body is such a perfect reflection of what is happening within you that it gives you constant, helpful feedback. When you see it this way, you can easily understand why chronic pain syndromes are most effectively remedied with a mind-body approach. It makes so much sense to recognize the inherent message in all physical discomfort: you are thinking, feeling, or doing something that is not serving you.
It can be a little confusing to think like this at first. We are so used to arguing with our bodies, asking them to heal without changing anything we’re doing, and wanting them to behave/look/be different than they are that we don’t develop the habit of recognizing the root cause of this discomfort feedback. Today, I’m giving you three ways to begin quickly shifting your relationship with your body.
1. Change Your Language
Your body hears what you think and say, day in and day out. It responds physiologically to every thought. Certain thoughts create a fight or fight response in your body, while others create relaxation and healing. You can test this yourself quite easily. Take a moment to think about something very upsetting. Check in with your body and notice what you feel. Tension? Muscle contraction? Shallow breathing? Maybe even a racing heart?
Now, think about something you love. Wallow in it and soak it up. Check in with your body again. This time, you’re probably noticing relaxation, openness, lightness, and freedom, whatever that feels like to you. The simplest way to begin helping your body heal is to purposefully look for what you like in your life. Even if it’s small, or seemingly silly, if you like it, pay attention to it. Every time you feel the slightest bit better physically, notice it, revel in it, and talk about it to yourself. Notice when the urge to complain arises, and deliberately shift your language. It’s a powerful way to begin creating instantaneous relaxation in this moment, right now.
2. Honor What You Really Want
How many times a day do you ignore what you really want? You feel like a catnap, but you push through to the end of a project anyway. You want to take off your shoes and walk barefoot in the grass, but you stay on task and on the sidewalk. You … fill in the blank with something you ignored today. It’s really not virtuous and right to ignore our deepest wants and longings. Instead, see them as incredibly helpful signposts on the way to health, happiness, and more. Every time you ignore a true want, your body responds with tension. True wants are the things that make your soul sing when you think of them. They are the inspirations that pop out of nowhere.
They are the things that make you smile, laugh, and feel sudden joy.
I can hear you thinking, “But there are so many things I have to do … ” I know. We are all busy. So it becomes a matter of trusting that those wants really are helping you and finding a way to slip one in, each day, even if only for five minutes. Try it, and I think you’ll reap so many rewards that you’ll start making room for more.
3. Love Your Mistakes
Possibly one of the most tension-creating things you can do is beat yourself up for making a mistake. I would know, because I have been an expert at this for most of my life. It’s still my first default, but my body responds with so much contraction and tension whenever I do it that I’m learning rapidly to change this habit. Mistakes are beautiful things. They show us something valuable, helpful, and important. If we didn’t make them, how would we know what we really want? If I didn’t totally overcook the burgers, how would I know that I prefer them otherwise? How would I know how to grill them differently?
I actually think perfection is really boring. If we hit the mark every single time, there would be no tournaments. There would be no sports to watch on TV, and no movies. How much fun is it to read a novel about a character who never makes a mistake? Our mistakes create the variety, the spice, and the meaning of our lives—they are so integral, and yet we fight them. This week, try loving them. Say “oops” with glee. Notice how you teach yourself something new with every mistake. Your body will respond with much less tension and a lot more health.