Body Awareness: Why It's Important to Trust What Your Body is Telling You

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By Carlene Townley, MA

Intuition is a gift we were all given at infanthood. Intuition is how we connect with our inner selves through our bodies. It links closely with body awareness, also known as somatic awareness or “learning to feel your body.”

So, why is it that important to trust what your body is telling you?

Your intuition is a collection of your past experiences

You’ve probably been told many times to “trust your gut!” But, do you know why? Your gut is a host to a multitude of unconscious learned experiences, or things that our minds might not be ready to accept. Our intuition tries to notify us of something that our mind can’t yet comprehend or process.

Learning to trust your gut is something that sounds easy but proves to be quite difficult. As humans, we want reasons and answers, but not everything stems from logic. We focus so much on our minds and egos when we really should be more in tune with body awareness.

Your body gives you the first sign that something is off

Both internally and externally, your body can notify you if something isn’t right. For instance, if you’re feeling physically drained or seem to be in a bad headspace after spending time with someone, he or she may be toxic for you to be around.

Maybe you’ve noticed they gossip a lot, don’t have nice things to say, or are generally negative, but they’re your friend. It might be that your mind isn’t willing to accept just how toxic that person is. Thus, your body is literally giving you a clear sign that this person is draining and absorbs too much of your time and energy. If your mind isn’t yet able to accept it, your body awareness can tune you into how you’re really feeling.

Your mind can play tricks on you

The society and the environment we grow up in widely influences our brains and thought processes.

Let’s take food as an example. Many adults don’t have a healthy relationship with food, and almost all of us have entered into some form of disordered eating in our lifetime. Maybe you’ve eaten out of boredom or stress, maybe you’ve told yourself you weren’t hungry because you wanted to lose weight, maybe you’ve eaten fruit when your body was craving chocolate because you thought it was the healthier option. These are all things that your mind, not your body is telling you.

But if you look at the way babies see food, it’s completely different. They will quite literally scream for food when they’re hungry and refuse to open their mouths if they’re full. A baby’s body knows exactly what it needs and when.  And babies know how to listen to their bodies without overriding the natural process. The same goes for toddlers – if you offer them a snack of strawberries or chips, they will genuinely choose the option that their body is craving. They haven’t been immersed in society for long enough to think otherwise.

Your body gives you a variety of warning signs

Are you chronically sleepy? Constantly stressed? Have you experienced flu-like symptoms when you weren’t actually sick?

No, you’re not just being dramatic, something is weighing on you. Whether it’s your underpaying job or the stress of taking care of your children without help from a spouse, or something else, your body is trying to tell you something.

It’s important to listen to the warning signs that your body gives you because it’s telling you that something needs to change. Pain and discomfort are bodily signs that something is not right.

Still not sure you can hear what your body is telling you?

If you’re not in the habit of practicing body awareness, you might need some help tuning in. Individual counseling can help you get to the root of somatic symptoms that stem from trauma, anxiety, or stress. Why not schedule a session? A little time spent learning how to practice body awareness and productively link your mind and body can do wonders for your quality of life.
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Carlene Townley is a marriage and family therapist associate at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin (RCC Austin). She has completed two levels of training in Somatic Experiencing-Body-Centered Trauma therapy. You can reach Carlene at 512-470-4883, ext. 105 or schedule an appointment with her through the RCC Austin scheduling page.