“And I said to my body softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.’” ~Nayyirah Waheed
For more than half my life, I took care of my body “by the numbers.” Every day, I walked a certain number of steps, no matter how sore, sick, or tired I was. I worked a certain number of hours, often going without sleep in order to finish my work and check off all the numbered items on my to-do list, no matter how my body begged for rest.
For weeks I’d follow a strict diet, counting points or calories or carbs, ignoring hunger pains and my growling stomach. But when the diet was over, I’d stuff myself on sweets and junk food until I felt sick and ashamed. At the same time, I struggled to see a certain number on the scale and to fit into a certain dress size.
Not only was I miserable physically, but when I didn’t meet these “number goals,” I felt like a failure, and told myself there was something wrong with me.
Maybe some of this sounds familiar to you. Maybe you’re exercising though pain, working beyond exhaustion, and eating in ways that leave you feeling tired, bloated, or sick.
Maybe, like me, you’re blaming your body for not being strong enough, thin enough, tough enough, or just plain not good enough.
But here’s the truth: None of this is your body’s fault.
Whether you know it or not, your body is speaking to you all day long. It’s telling you on an ongoing basis what it needs to keep you healthy, comfortable, and happy.
The trouble is that we’ve all been taught to ignore what our bodies are telling us in order to please the people around us. From our earliest days we were told when and what to eat. We’re told how we should look, act, and live in order to fit in. And, over the years, we’ve learned to judge ourselves and our lives “by the numbers.”
But what if you decided to stop letting those numbers run your life and started listening to your body instead? What if you could trust that your body has a deep wisdom you can rely on to keep you healthy and strong?
Here are some techniques you can use to connect with your body in a way that helps you feel, hear, and then honor its needs. Try them all and see what works for you.
Listening to Your Body
1. Respect it.
Begin by thinking about and speaking to your body with love and respect. If you’re not sure how to do that, try repeating this.
I love you exactly the way you are.