Your body often tells you what it needs. You're hungry because your body needs food, or in pain because you put your hand on a hot stove and your body wants you to MOVE IT.
But sometimes, we get the message wrong, and that leads to trouble. For example, a client of mine struggles with eating too much chocolate. When she's feeling tired or down, she fixates on eating chocolate.
Can you relate? There's something deep within her that feels like chocolate is the solution.
But it rarely is.
And yet, eat chocolate seems to be what her body is telling her to do. So can our bodies be trusted?
Yes, but we have to pay attention to the real message. If my client were to tell the truth, the message from her body is not eat chocolate but rather I have low blood sugar or I am dehydrated or I am upset about a situation at work. All of which have simple solutions: stop skipping lunch, drink more water, have a difficult conversation.
How, then, do we manage to misinterpret our body’s signals? This is where we get devious. There's a scheming con man inside all of us that has its own agenda. It wants chocolate! And so it twists the message from the body (I am thirsty) to suit its own needs (I want chocolate).
Anyone who has ever spent time with a child knows what I am talking about. A mom says to her child, “Tell your dad to add eggs to the grocery list,” and the kid tells the dad, “Mom says we need to get eggs and Captain Crunch.” A classic con.
The key to dealing with your body’s needs, then, is to get good at bypassing your inner con man and going straight to the source. Here are four common distortions of what our body is saying, and how to hear the truth:
1. I want to be left alone.
Sure, sometimes it's good to have me time. But be careful if you get this urge often. I've found that it often means “I am feeling disconnected,” or “I am feeling ashamed,” or “I don’t want to deal.” Ironically, the very thing that would make us feel better—connecting with people we love—is the one thing we don’t want to do!
2. I want to yell at you.
Maybe the person did something annoying. But the desire to yell often really means “I am upset about something in my life” or “I haven’t resolved these 10 other issues with you.” The actual incident is rarely worth a full-on yell.
3. I want to binge on House of Cards.
Having a craving to immerse yourself in TV? This typically means, “I don’t want to deal with something I need to do” or “I want to escape from negative feelings.” So your time would be better spent taking that thing on head-first.
4. I want sugar.
As mentioned above, this can mean anything from “I shouldn’t have skipped lunch,” to “I didn’t sleep enough last night,” to “I don’t want to deal with an issue in my life.” Experiment with which one, when addressed, makes the craving go away.
Where are you being duped by your rebel? What is your body saying, instead?