Self

Your Body Tells You The Truth — How To Listen And Heal

Photo: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com
Smiling African-American woman shown during her workout

From the moment you’re born to the moment you die, the only thing you can rely on is the sensation of being in your body.

Even before you could conceptualize thoughts or realize you had feelings, your body has told you if you were feeling good or not. Newborns know that they are safe because their body is content, at peace, and relaxed. On the other end, growing up in a physically or emotionally unhealthy environment will create tensions that will resurface when least expected.

As we grow up we often learn to ignore the signals our bodies send us. We pretend it’s "just physical pain”. We hope it will disappear on its own. We take pills to mask the sensation. We even pretend it doesn’t exist. But our body continues talking to us and if we “forget” to listen, it will scream to be heard.

Here are a few examples to remind you why listening to your body is essential and how hearing its message will help you to heal physically and emotionally.

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Your body will know the truth even before you’re aware of it

It was just ten years ago. I had booked an out-of-town romantic weekend in Manhattan for my husband's fiftieth birthday. For no apparent reason, as soon as he landed in NYC, my stomach started cramping and I felt terribly sick, throwing up from morning to night and running a low-grade fever.

The doctor's diagnosis was “stomach ulcer”, but no matter how many pills I swallowed, I stayed sick for the following weeks until two months later, when my husband told me he wanted a divorce. The news was devastating but after that first night of crying, nausea receded and then disappeared.

The pain in my belly was gone within forty-eight hours of our separation. It was replaced by another type of pain, this one linked to the heartbreak, but the awful clinching in my stomach disappeared as by magic.

Looking back at it, I realized that, like a kid in pain, my subconscious had no word to express something was off. Children will not tell you they are anxious but they will tell you that their tummy hurt. My subconscious could feel the anxiety, the tension about the state of our relationship before I even was aware of it. Once the tension linked to the uncertainty disappeared, the pain went away.

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Listen before it’s too late

One of my early clients, John complained about aches and pain in his stomach. His wife had just left him for another man and he was deeply hurt. John’s feeling of betrayal was sourced from childhood trauma and made total sense.

We needed to address the PTSD coming from his childhood and the pain from the current situation. Unfortunately, he had no intention of letting go of the anger nor of his sense of righteousness. Actually, he was taking pride in the deep pain he was described as “a punch in the gut each time he was thinking about her”.

You are the only one who could choose to let go and in John’s case, he refused to forgive. He was holding onto the pain as a symbol of his love. The toxicity of the body sensation accumulated over time and after a few months he was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Your body is talking to you but you are the only one who can listen and appease it. Acknowledging the message is the first step, and choosing to love yourself enough and letting go of the emotional hurt is the only way you can change your emotional pain and ultimately your physical one.

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What each type of pain is trying to tell you

There is no little pain or big pain. Each part of your body talks in its own language.

  • Headaches: You may be overthinking a situation and feel lost or confused.
  • Shoulder and neck pain: Are you tired of carrying everyone on your back?
  • Back pain: Concerned about your physical or emotional safety?
  • Stomach pain: Anxious about the future?
  • Urinary Tract Infection: What are you mad or “pissed off” about?
  • Knee pain: Do you have a hard time choosing a direction?
  • Shortness of breath, heart pain: Heartbreak feels like your heart is shattered into millions of pieces. It can even lead to a heart attack if not addressed.

I could go on and on and there is actually a very good dictionary to guide you. You can also simply listen to your personal message and ask your body: “What are you trying to tell me?"

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Stop judging yourself for experiencing pain

Don’t shoot the messenger. Your body is simply trying to send you information. Judging your body or pretending the pain doesn’t exist would be like punishing a kid who is crying because he’s hurt. It’s true that many children, especially young boys were taught to not feel their feelings.

Sentences like “Boy don’t cry,” “Stop being a cry baby,” and “Get over it” can have long-term effects. Even worse: “Let me give you a good reason to cry” expressed by a parent smacking their kid for expressing emotions can actually teach the child to hold their feelings in. I even worked with a client whose father was beating her each time she struggled with a school concept.

His words were “I punish you because I love/care about you.” It created total confusion in her psyche about what love meant but also about what pain was.

Over time, a child who is not allowed to express his feelings will not even be able to identify what is going on. They will grow up as adults who simply push through things until their bodies will scream to stop. By then, instead of a simply uncomfortable sensation showing they are not in alignment with their purpose, they might experience deep pain or serious illnesses like cancer.

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Love is the first step toward healing

Self-care is such a cliche and from bubble bath to massage, exercising and healthy nutrition modern society tells us to take care of our body. This is essential at a different level.

Taking care of your body will send to your brain the message that you matter. When was the last time you said “I love you” to yourself? This message of love can be expressed in words but also through physical touch.

Treat your body as if you were taking care of a baby. Be soft and gentle. Listen to what gives it pleasure and what hurts. Ask it what it needs to develop and feel healthy. If your body hurts, don’t ignore it, don’t judge it. Instead, be patient, and ask “what are your trying to tell me?”

Realize that in the past your body may have tried to express the same thing over and over without you paying attention. So ask yourself “when was the very first time I felt that sensation?” Simply acknowledging the feeling, will most of the time reduce the pain. If it’s not enough, ask a professional to guide you.

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Disease or dis-ease?

I’m not telling you to skip the doctor's office and meditate to heal by the power of your thought. By the time your body hurts or you’re sick, the toxic pain has been expressed in your body for a long time.

Traditional medicine will help you to address some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, if the source of the pain you’re experiencing is linked to trauma (big or small), the pain won’t go away until you take care of that trauma or it will go away — only to come back later in another form.

Physical and mental health should work hand in hand, so take the time to hear what your body has to say about your current situation and if you are in pain, start by asking yourself “What is going on in my life that is creating this dis-ease?" Once you have the answer, find love for yourself, forgive your body for having to scream, reconnect to your joy, and allow your body to heal.

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Dr. Fabienne Slama specializes in allowing you to let go of past trauma and blocks so you can live the purposeful and visible life you want. 

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