In my own personal journey and from working with coaching clients, it’s been interesting to discover that most people have a destructive relationship with themselves and their bodies.
In fact, I’ve noticed that the more driven and high performing a person is–the higher their level of internal criticism and the greater the war with the self.
This causes a tense and stressful environment that not only hampers optimal function–it also makes it much more difficult for the body to heal from trauma and illness.
For those of us who are doing deep inner work, it is essential to take time to create safety within our own bodies, otherwise, we will want to run away from ourselves and seek safety in unsustainable sources such as romantic partners, external experiences and material objects.
If we were to take a moment to pause and notice our thoughts and feelings throughout the day—especially during times of stress—we may be shocked to find what goes through our heads.
During the last real job I had back in 2010 doing operations management, I remember constantly being in a state of stress about my life. Even though I loved my job, I was over-worked, out of shape and heading into a state of complete burnout. I would get sick regularly and didn’t have the energy to do anything I wanted to do and life began to lose a sense of enjoyment.
As I share a slice of my thoughts, I ask you to look at them through a BODY PERSPECTIVE. This means, try and see how my nervous system, digestive system and mind may percieve and react to these thoughts:
I’m so f’ing tired…What am I going to wear to work today? None of my clothes fit right anymore…I should’ve left for work 30 minutes earlier to beat the traffic…Boston drivers are awful…I hate paying for parking…Is the server still up?…This office is a mess…Did anyone clean the bathrooms?…I hate that I have all these meetings today…such a waste of time…The architects really fucked up on this…I feel like crap, why am I so lazy…Oh shit, did I do that thing for my mom? She’s gonna be so pissed at me…Why did I say yes to that networking event? I can’t stand VC’s!…I should go home…I should stay and prove how dedicated I am…Ugh, these shoes they hurt my feet…These pants are too tight…I don’t have time to make dinner…Shit I have 12 missed calls…
Our negative and antagonistic thoughts about ourselves, our world and other people create an environment of shame, hostility and danger within our own bodies. This stimulation causes our sympathetic nervous system to turn on–and never really turn off–which means our fight-or-flight is nearly constantly activated and our whole body system is flooded with adrenaline, our blood pressure rises, muscles tighten, and our immune system and digestion shuts down.
This can perpetuate the feeling of “fighting against oneself” when there is this level of turbulence within the body and the psyche.
This makes it difficult to be ourselves–because there is so much perceived danger in the world, when actually, this “danger” is really coming from within.
When I left my job to do a start-up in Beijing, I was very conscious of the level of stress that kept me sick and tired at all times. I spent the next several years intentionally listening to my body and my thoughts and choosing to create a safe environment where I could flourish.
This allowed my creativity to flow–because it was no longer being repressed. Also, I was making more friends and my professional network multiplied–because it was safe for me to be myself and people were attracted to that authenticity.
Most importantly, I began to develop a deep sense of personal trust and self-acceptance, which I would later learn is really the key to personal power.