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121. Paying attention to how you feel (body and emotional awareness)

As we talked a lot about emotional intelligence, I want to move over to the physical side of emotional awareness. So often we just ignore our bodies and treat them as something that slows us down – but I’ve learned through experience, health problems, and researching the SCIENCE that listening to our bodies is vital. It helps us have a better awareness of ways we need to respond, more emotional freedom and it brings us out of living on the surface of our thoughts and into the experience of our lives. 

 


 

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What is your relationship to your body?

Do you ignore it, do you mistreat it, do you appreciate it, do you have anger towards it?

Many of us women experience a range of these sentiments over the decades. 

I really realized how I resented my body when I learned I had an autoimmune disease called Graves Disease. You can read about that thyroid condition here, and you can read about my faith and healing journey here. 

 

Ignoring our bodies is culturally acceptable

We power through, we push ourselves, we ignore our bodies. It is culturally acceptable. But why? Is it fear of wallowing and worsening? Is it fear of admitting our weaknesses? Is it because we are moms and we don’t need ONE MORE THING to fix??

We ignore our bodies through food, drink, keeping busy and then we hit a wall and think we aren’t strong enough, or we are doing it all wrong. 

 

Our bodies are WHERE we experience emotion

Our bodies are where we FEEL our feelings. When we have a thought about something (often a subconscious and automatic judgment about if we are safe/in danger, good/bad, etc). When we have this thought our brain tells our bodies to release chemicals (peptides/hormones) to prompt us to respond accordingly. 

So the emotions we feel from those chemicals flooding our bodies aren’t actually to make life hard, but to indicate something is needed to address this situation. 

Our bodies learn this thought-emotion response and then we call it a ‘trigger’. It isn’t just for BIG T trauma, our bodies remember how to respond from our past experiences. 

 

We often ignore symptoms in our bodies up to the point they cause us problems

If we don’t address what our body is telling us – and we keep having the same thoughts and emotions on something – our body will keep telling us this.

For instance, over the years I have noticed that stress makes me hold my breath and breathe shallowly. It makes me tense up my stomach and clench my teeth. But I learned this backward, from addressing the health outcomes of doing these things repeatedly over time. 

 

What about the science of mind and body?

I have read Heal Your Body by Louise Hay and it is a fascinating read as she connects ailments to emotional conflicts. I have started to view symptoms in a similar way because, as I have paid attention, I have seen connections to my own emotions and physical experience. 

But I am interested most in the science. Some great books on this are the Molecules of Emotion by Dr. Candace Pert and Cure by Jo Marchant. Some popular names for this field are ‘mindbody medicine and ‘psychoneuroimmunology’.

If you feel like this is a stretch – just think about the fascination of placebos – where our brain believes something and the body responds in accordance. And now they are researching nocebos – where, when a patient predicts a negative outcome their symptoms worsen from the placebo. 

 

Answering your questions about: 

 

The simple pleasure of the week

Is clean fresh sheets! What a ridiculously ADULT thing to say, but fresh sheets and my coziest PJs will be one of my favourite experiences in my week!

 

Make sure to say HI in the Facebook community group!

 

 

woman laying on couch staring into the distance, text overlay "paying attention to how you feel"

 

 

 

Full transcript 

Welcome to the simple on  purpose Podcast, where we talk about how to be intentional in your home, your heart, your motherhood and your life, how to show up with peace and purpose in presence in these areas of your life. You got to do it on purpose.

So first of all, welcome if you’re new here, and welcome. If you’re a longtime listener, I just want to take a minute to celebrate with you. We have reached over 100,000 downloads. Thanks, guys, like thank you for listening. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for the emails, you send me the Instagram messages. I specifically love to hear from you in the Facebook group. I love when you go and share what you’re thinking what you’re learning, and you ask for questions. Because I want that Facebook group I created it. So it would be a community and community needs you. It needs people it needs people in there engaging, not just sitting on the sidelines and hey, I know what it’s like. I’m a sideline sitter to in some Facebook groups, I get it. But seriously, just come say hi. Alright, this is a late episode. Just things were not happening this week. I took Wednesday off I went and I visited with my siblings. My dad and my sister were visiting my mom in her care home. And then we all got together for lunch. And I think this was the first time we’d been together since July. So it was it was pretty special. It was a very special day for me. Then yesterday, I was just feeling sluggish. It was rainy out. I’ve got this weird I’ve action so weird. And I just thought like I need to go move my body. So I went on the treadmill and I jogged and watch some trashy TV. Unfortunately, what they say is true. Motion helps you with emotion. It helps get your body back into the state that feels like a reset. So I’m feeling reset. But you know, if you looked at me right now, you wouldn’t really know it. I’m still in my PJs. been putting a hot egg on my I hope my tear duct. I’ve got the coffee sweats. It’s you know, it’s a good thing. I’m on audio and not video, I’ll just say that. Okay, so here we are, I’ve finally got this episode together in the way that I want to present it. It’s just been all over the map. But I wanted this episode to be between the emotional intelligence episodes where we talk about being emotionally aware and having some agency over our emotions rather than them controlling us. And the next episode I’m going to be sharing is on hormone health. So I wanted this link between the two, between emotional intelligence and our bodies. So I think it’s just worth asking as we open up into it is what is your relationship to your body? Do you ignore it? Do you mistreat it? Do you appreciate it? Or do you have anger towards it? And I think like most women who are reaching their late 30s, we’ve had decades of being really all over the map all over the map with how we feel towards our bodies.

And I kind of go back, like 11 or 12 years ago, when I learned that I had an autoimmune condition we were trying to get

pregnant. And I learned through that process that I had graves disease, which is a thyroid autoimmune condition. I’ll post some links about that there if you’re interested in reading that. But when I got that diagnosis, I was really well first of all, I was relieved. Like all of these random symptoms I’ve experienced over the years, they all fit together in a way that made sense. Now, it wasn’t just me like whining about things or struggling with weird things like they it all made sense. So I felt relieved. But I also kind of felt angry, like angry at my body. Because an autoimmune diseases when your body is almost fighting itself. And I know it sounds dramatic. But as I would just deal with the symptoms day in day out, and consider all the treatment options. I kind of felt like my body betrayed me. And you know, really, I think if I look back, I probably betrayed my body. I probably wasn’t listening along along the way. I probably wasn’t really supporting it along the way. But here I am. I’m going through this process where I’m looking at physical healing. And a friend of mine who really walked me through this, she was giving me information on something called toxic emotions, and how our emotions affect our bodies and receiving this information, you know, and in my late mid 20s, I was really struck that I didn’t listen to my body. I definitely didn’t listen to my thoughts. I was just kind of living in this world of how am I feeling my feeling good or feeling bad? And that’s kind of the baseline of how I approached everything. I wasn’t really digging any deeper. What’s going on for me, Why could it be going on? So I started to bring in counseling through that healing process and reading that the information she gave me on toxic emotions. It was eerily accurate. It was telling me that there is something that My body’s telling me and it is reflected in how I’m feeling about things in my mind. But ignoring our bodies, it’s really easy, isn’t it. And we do have a lot of tools at our disposal that we can use to silence the signals our body are giving us, right? We can numb it with food, we can nominate with drinks, we can numb it through the day with caffeine, we can stay really busy and stay active. And I think we’re really conditioned to do this. We don’t really, we don’t really view this as a problem as a culture, right? We power through, we ignore our bodies, we just keep going in. Why would we do that? Are we afraid that if we stop and pay attention to the negative to the not so good, we’re gonna get stuck, like we won’t know what to do will maybe even make it worse? Are we afraid that if we stop and pay attention, we’ll see that there’s areas of weakness, and we don’t want to feel weak? I think for a lot of us moms, that if we stop and pay attention to what is maybe not feeling so great in our bodies, it’s just one more thing. It’s just one more thing that needs to be fixed, right? That can feel really overwhelming. But I just want to propose to you that pay attention to your body, it actually helps us take better care of ourselves take care of our own, like basic daily needs. It gives us more control and awareness over our emotions, it brings us out of this head experience and into the experience of our lives and in our bodies are part of experiencing life, right? We’re not just ahead floating around on our body, our bodies are talking to us. And I know we hear it and I know like, okay, that kind of makes sense. I know when I’m tired. Or maybe my body’s telling me that I need to rest or that I need to move. Our bodies tell us when we’re overwhelmed or when we’re underwhelmed. We all know what it’s like to hit a wall to just feel totally exhausted, maybe even burnt out. And it makes sense because our stress response that keeps us in the response mode to threats and challenges. It’s not meant to be long term, right? It’s meant to be a short term thing. But if we keep that up, eventually we do hit a wall, right? The problem is most women beat themselves up for this. Most women I coach think that there’s something wrong with me if I can’t maintain this hustle, or the fact that they need rest means they did it all wrong. And then you feel even crappy, and you’re like, well, what am I doing wrong? And how am I approaching this all wrong, really don’t need to change your life. You don’t need to find more discipline, get more motivated, you don’t need to steamroll a new way for yourself. You just need to pay more attention along the way, and respond to yourself sooner in small and loving ways. As I’m coaching, a big concept that I introduce people to is our bodies are telling us how we feel. And a lot of us aren’t aware of our emotions, we live very much in our heads.

And so when I’m coaching, I asked a lot about what someone’s thinking, of course, but then how is does that make you feel some of us are really out of touch with what the feelings are? Because we’re out of touch with our bodies, because we’re to feelings live in our bodies. All day long. We go through our day, we’re interpreting everything around us what is happening, who’s saying something, you see something, you hear something, you smell something and and the thought is generated from that automatically? An automatic assumption that your brain has its subconscious. Is the safe, is this dangerous? Is this good? Is this bad. And over time, your brain learns this habit, this quick assessment, this quick judgment, and your body remembers that it remembers the conflicts you’ve had for decades with your husband. It remembers how incapable you felt in motherhood. It remembers how unsafe you felt in different situations. And it uses that information to tell you how to show up next time. So these things start happening without us really being consciously aware. We call it being triggered. It isn’t just for the big t trauma. We are constantly showing up with the thoughts and emotions that we have learned from past experiences. That’s a whole aside. So something happens you have a thought. It’s often subconscious in the background. Maybe it’s conscious, and you’re very aware of it. But that thought is a signal to your brain to release certain peptides, chemicals and hormones related to that thought. And we know some of them we know some of their names endorphins, serotonin cortisol.

So what do

we think about this, we think that emotions are just here to like, scramble up our lives and make them hard. But emotions are actually messengers. This release of these hormones and chemicals are there for a reason. They’re prompting you to take action. So our feelings are an indicator of what we think and prompting us to do something to keep us safe to solve the problem. I’m going to teach a lot more on this in the emotional intelligence course for moms and kids. On June 3, if you’re interested, make sure you’re keeping an eye out on the email list for that. As we coach we try to gain more awareness on how your emotions feel. What does it feel like in you Your body you as a person to experience stress, or anxiety or regret. And we know stress is well studied, we understand there’s a science behind stress and what it does in our bodies. So this is also true for other emotions, we can’t negate them. How do these emotions feel in your body? If you stop and pay attention to one, that’s maybe a tough one to feel?

How does it feel?

Where do you feel it in your body? Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it sharp? Is it dull? Is it heavy? Is it light, this is a huge part of emotional awareness. Paying attention to how you feel also means paying attention to your body. And all of this, it gives us such a better handle on gaining the freedom from letting the emotions run the show, because we catch them sooner. We don’t let them snowball up into these huge emotional experiences that feel overwhelming. And we can respond to them sooner in small and loving ways. Instead of feeling like we’ve hit a wall, I need to overhaul my whole life. A question that I asked myself often when I’m noticing, I just feel a little bit off. You’ve heard me say this before. And that is, what do I need right now? What do I need right now is something to eat. Maybe some fun, maybe I’ll put on some music, what do I need right now. And I want you to see the power in this because we really only listen when the symptoms become too much, and they will become too much. If we don’t deal with it. We’re still having these thoughts, we’re still having these emotions, we’re still releasing these chemicals and hormones, and some of them can cause a lot of damage to ourselves. So we have to start listening before the symptoms become too much to deal with. I’ll give you an example in stress and motherhood is something I coach on often. And it’s also something I know inside and out. And it took me a long time to start to notice how I carry my stress. As I started paying attention. Over the years, I can see where I carry it, I hold my breath, breathe really shallow, I clench my abdomen up, like everything is tense in my core, and not like in an ABS way. That’s not the result. Unfortunately, I clench up my jaw. But I really learned this from working backwards from the undesirable impacts it gave me so I was going to a pelvic floor physiotherapist and she pointed out to me how important my breath is in deep into my belly to support my pelvic floor. I’ve been going to my gastroenterologist who has informed me all of those headaches you have and all of the Advil you’ve been taking, and how your stomach’s all twist up. Now you’ve got an ulcer, what are we going to do about that? My dentist is talking about mouth guards. He’s watching me clench my teeth. So I think the outcome is I want to catch these things sooner. I want to catch them before I have these big medical situations that I get myself stuck into. And you know, I can’t talk about how our bodies are feeling and the emotional connection. without talking about that unknown. Maybe we call it a metaphysical side of things. Maybe people call it Woo. Because our bodies are really telling us where we’re emotionally stuck. I’m totally that friend who if you tell me you have a headache? I’m like, Huh, what’s on your brain? Girl? What do you need to get out of that head? If my kid has a sore throat? I’m like, What are you holding inside that you need to say what emotions need to come out. And it’s not because I totally live in this like, Zen sub like spiritual world. But because I’ve noticed in my own body, I’ve seen the connection. When I have a headache, there’s something like emotional going on for me. I’ve noticed the connection between how my back is feeling and how I’m feeling about my work and my stress level. There’s a book called heal your body by Louise Hay. It’s almost like a dictionary of almost any ailment you can have and the emotional conflict that that she associates it with. It’s really fascinating to read. It’s really fascinating to be like, okay, that actually feels true. But if you’re like me, you want the science you want the science around this and the science is out there. This is the kind of the exciting part. This is why I wanted to make a podcast about it. Because I’ve been reading a lot about it this whole field, a general term for it is Mind Body medicine. Another term for it that connects what we’re thinking what our brain is doing, and how our immune systems are reacting is called psycho neuro immunology. There’s some great books out there on that the molecules of emotion by Candace pert cure by Joe Marcia. And and I think we all know that connection between stress and that it lowers our immune system, it creates inflammation in our bodies, it creates disease. So we know that there is a link between what our minds go through and the way our bodies react to how that impacts our health. I’ve been so fascinated by this concept of Mind Body connection. And if all of this sounds really strange for you, kind of get fascinated by the fact that there’s placebos, like placebos are a thing. And if you read much about placebos where people are being told they’re getting a medication or a treatment, and then their symptoms resolved, but in fact, it was assailing water or a blank pill it was, it was an illusion. But their brain believed it. And so their body responded, Isn’t that fascinating. And now they’re also learning, there’s a flip side, there’s something called no cbos, which means if you’re predicting a negative outcome from this treatment, your symptoms will worsen. Even if it’s a placebo, you’re getting a cape that doesn’t that

blow your mind. Our bodies are not separate from our brains, our bodies are where we have this physical experience of what we perceive and think. And our bodies are signaling all of this to us. My poor husband like reading about this and learning about it, and then we’re on the couch at night. I’m like, Okay, time for your TED Talk. Here’s what I learned today, poor guy. But the big takeaway I want to offer you here is that our bodies need to be paid attention to, they’re telling us what we need. They’re telling us where we’re stuck. They’re asking us for a response, I never listened to how I was feeding my body into maybe my 30s. As I was getting those headaches and stomach aches, I had to learn what was feeling good for me what was feeling nourishing, I had to learn from paying attention that despite what everyone on Instagram is telling me, I am not a person who can handle more than one cup of coffee a day. I wish I could I wish I could I just love coffee so much. But my body is like now not having it. I had to learn how my body needs to go to bed earlier and move throughout the day, I had to learn from paying attention to the aches and the pains where I need to be stretched and strengthened. I had to stop treating my body as if it was something that weighed me down. And I had to start appreciating that it’s doing something for me, it’s telling me something, and that makes me want to take better care of it and pay more attention to it. I know this episode had a lot of different ideas to consider. And that’s exactly what I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be opening up to this notion that our bodies are being crazy or irresponsible, or out to get us that they are actually lovingly showing us where we need to support ourselves more. I’ve got a couple questions that were sent in through the Facebook group and Instagram. I’m going to run through a couple here. The first one is how do I notice the signs of stress. And there’s two things that can tell you when you’re under stress response. One is how you’re acting, fight, flight or freeze. And really, I think the enneagram is a tool that can give you a lot of awareness around your stress habits. And the other one is how you feel. And we know conventionally that stress causes our hearts to raise, we sweat, we might feel nauseous. As I said, I’ve paid attention to how stress makes me tense up my whole stomach and how I breathe really shallow. So start paying attention to that. Because this will be your experience to learn. It’s so powerful to pay attention to your stress response. Because once you’re in that stress state, you just become so much more susceptible to being stressed about everything else, and you stop living in line with your values. Go back to episode I think 113 on that if you want information about surviving versus thriving from a stress response. The other question I’ll cover today is how to visualize and expect health for my future self. And the question is, I had an eating disorder in my 20s. And I’m still restrictive if I’m not careful. So I have this weird underlying fear that I’m not healthy, or that I will be fragile or more prone to unhealthy as I age. I don’t really know if this is true. And I’d like to visualize and assume myself healthy. But I don’t because I think it’s maybe my realism or fear in the back of my mind, do you find visualization, or things of that nature to be

helpful?

And I think this is such a great question, because we have some really sticky thoughts. Like I’m not that healthy. I’m prone to unhealth. And these are so important because your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings, create your actions. So when you think that how do you feel? If I thought in that way, which I have over the years? It makes me feel helpless and overwhelmed? And like I don’t really know what to do? And does it even matter? And if I wanted to do something, I’m probably not strong enough to do it. So then how do you start acting? How do you act when you feel helpless? Do you just ignore your body and hope it works out enough? Do you get hyper vigilant and stressed? Do you try things that are healthy, but give up halfway because why bother? All of these actions are going to change your outcome of how you take care of your body and how your health is down the road. So I love that you add in there that I’m thinking these things and I don’t know if it’s true. How do you know if it’s true if you are prone to unhealth or if you are unhealthy? And how does that keep you from believing what could be? If you thought I’m healthy right now, I’m going to be healthy for a long time. How would you feel and how would you act differently? visualization is a really great tool. There’s an actual science behind it and I talked about this way back in Episode 37. The science behind visualization, your brain what they’ve learned is your brain doesn’t differentiate between imagining something and actually experiencing it. This is why when we Think about the worst case scenario in the future, we actually feel that in our bodies, right? We feel worried about what could happen to our kids, we feel that in our bodies, your brain when you visualize something, it’s firing the neurons in response to that. And you’re establishing these thought patterns on how to respond. So visualization, it actually is a science based tool that can help you do a mental dress rehearsal, it can lay down the groundwork on how you want to think and react to it. There’s a saying that the neurons that fire together wire together, so the more you practice thought patterns, the stronger they get in your brain. This is really where autopilot thinking is, right? It’s all of our thinking on habit. They’re on autopilot in our brain. And it’s a helpful phenomenon. When we wire in the thoughts we do want to have, and not just default to the automatic thoughts that are coming in. They’re usually negative thoughts. So teaching your brain a new thought pattern can be done. It’s called neuroplasticity, it takes practice, having a new thought is like walking a little trail through the forest. Eventually, the more you do it, it’s just going to compact down and get harder, and maybe wider, versus the thoughts that you’re so good at thinking they’re on habit. They’re on autopilot. Those are like freeways like your brains not even going to try and find a different route is just going to take this one on habit. So I highly recommend that you visualize yourself making the healthy decisions you want to make, then in the moments to come. When you need to take healthy action, your brain won’t get overwhelmed, it won’t wonder what to do and won’t try to find a thought and default to the lowest energy the easiest one, it’s already practiced this it knows what to do. I had another really good question in the Facebook group on snacking and eating and wellness and wellness goals. And I thought that question was so good, and it had so many good parts we could talk about. So I actually asked the question asked her to do a coaching call that’s going to be on the podcast coming up so stay tuned for that. Let’s wrap up with simple pleasure. Here is something I love that every time it happens I comment on it to Connor and that is fresh sheets. mandu I love fresh sheets. There’s nothing like getting into a bed and the sheets are fresh. They don’t have to be free of wrinkles because whose fold I don’t know how to fold that like really, but just having fresh sheets that first night old man if you put on your coziest PJs, and get new fresh sheets, you’re gonna have the best sleep ever. And you know when I think about being a kid, I don’t remember fresh sheets like who was washing my sheets. I’m not really sure maybe my mom just thought I was maybe I thought she was who knows but here I am now being an adult and adulting and that means giving yourself some fresh sheets. Friends, I just love hanging out with you here on the podcast. I love hearing from you. Make sure you stop Facebook group and drop me a note. Have a great week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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