What’s Your Body Trying to Tell You?
Do you ever get that pit of dread in your stomach, notice your voice gradually soften or your arms suddenly cross?
I wonder what might happen if we paused in these moments and gave ourselves permission to explore what our body is trying to tell us. I like to call these ‘body clues’ and we get to be the detectives.
- Begin to pay attention to when the body experiences a sensation: Write down in your phone or in a journal where you were, what you were doing, who you were with and what you were talking about. Some people have set times of the day or phone alarms to remind them to pause and look inward.
- Look for any patterns: After about a week, take a look at what you have written down. Do you notice the body clues happening at the same location, during the same activity, with the same person or around the same topic of conversation?
Maybe your stomach’s pit of dread happens before you open your phone, your voice softens when you are around a particular friend or your arms cross when you think about your workplace.
- Identify the feeling underneath the body clues: Sometimes it can be helpful to google “feelings wheel” to inspire feeling words if is hard to find the language for the body-clue. Try the formula, “When ____, I notice _____ and I feel ____.”
i.e. When I open my phone, I notice my stomach tighten and I feel overwhelmed.”
“When I spend time with Janet, I notice my voice soften and I feel defensive”
“When I think about my workplace, I notice my arms crossing and I feel disrespected”
Feelings do not have to be facts. They can simply be messages that our body is trying to tell us.
Next time you are faced with a decision or notice a subtle shift in your body, I wonder what it might be like to sit for a minute and listen to what your body is telling you. Then, of course, it is up to you what you decide to do with that information.
However, I can’t help but to wonder what would happen if we looked at our list of patterns and adjusted accordingly (where possible) to surround ourselves with people, places and experiences that made us feel lighter, more energized and peaceful.
For some, acting on our body-clues might result in removing apps on our phones that make us feel bad about ourselves or hiding certain hashtags from our feed. It might be having a difficult conversation with a friend about how we are feeling in that partnership and asserting our needs. For others, it could be quitting a job entirely and finding a new workspace that makes us feel respected, heard and accepted for who we are.
Lindsay Savard, MSW, is a Registered Social Worker with the Alberta College of Social Workers and specializes in the areas of parenting support and relationships, as well as many others. For more information on Lindsay and her work click here to link to her full bio page.