A few winters ago, I really didn’t want to go to Edmonton and spend Christmas with my husband’s family. The only problem was that I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t tell them I’d rather stay home alone. I didn’t want to offend or hurt my in-laws, and I knew the long road trip over the Rockies would be easier for my husband if I went with him.
I didn’t know how to say no…but my body did.
In mid-November, I developed an alarming health issue. Now I can’t even remember what it was, but at the time it was painful enough to go to the doctor. After an X-ray and blood test that revealed nothing, my doctor recommended an MRI. A couple weeks later the hospital called to say the only opening they had was on Christmas Eve. December 24, 7 pm.
Of course I couldn’t say no to the hospital. It was a matter of life or death! I might die if I don’t get that test. And voila—I had the perfect excuse not to go to Edmonton.
I didn’t have the courage to tell the truth, but my body did. The MRI showed nothing wrong, and in January the health condition disappeared.
Now when I’m making decisions, I pay more attention to my body than my brain. I avoid mental gymnastics; instead, I tune into my body’s signals. I’ve even given her a name! Rosie.
Do you trust your body?
When I’m making a decision—whether it’s to have soup for lunch or buy a condo in Saskatchewan—I listen to my body. She has my best interests at heart, and she doesn’t lie.
When it’s a “yes” I can feel my body expanding, rising and opening. My heart lifts, my eyes light up, my shoulders relax. When it’s a “no” I can feel my body withering, shriveling, tightening. My stomach clenches, shoulders tense, brow furrows. Sometimes I even physically pull back, like a horse seeing a snake and rearing away.
Sometimes my body is subtle. I have to get still, go within and feel around. Like a doctor performing a physical examination, I prod and poke around.
In Being Nice is Bad for Your Body: 4 Reasons Good Girls Get Sick I share how the immune system is affected by repressed emotions, and how authenticity and being honest with others leads to health and wellness.
When you’re caught between your mind and body
Consider a difficult, painful or confusing decision about a relationship. I imagine interacting with the person. I picture myself in their company and wait for the sensations to arise.
When I imagine myself with them, is my body energized and encouraged, grounded and peaceful? Physically, it feels like a gentle massage or a hug and a kiss on the forehead. Or perhaps it’s challenging in a healthy way, like a good long hike or a sweaty boxing class.
Some relationships leave my body feeling drained and demoralized, unnerved and jangly, exhausted and hopeless. My body always tells the truth, and I’m learning how to follow her lead.
Take good care of your body, because she is doing her best to take good care of you.