If you were to really, truly listen to your body, what would it be telling you?
For months now, I was pretty sure my body was telling me to sleep for a week or more. I heard my body say it was tired, really tired, all the time, but I didn’t really LISTEN.
It was while I was brushing my teeth a couple of nights ago that I was bemoaning my body to any guides who were listening. A recent joint dysfunction diagnosis combined with injury in that area and pain that was easily a 10 on the pain scale had me feeling like my body was falling apart or betraying me. And I said as much.
In response, Michael popped in and countered my complaints with this gem: “Your body is a finely tuned instrument. It will tell you what you need to know and when to seek help. Your job is to listen carefully to its messages.”
Well, I thought, that’s not super helpful when I don’t understand the messages I’m receiving. But I decided to try again.
Overwhelmingly, I heard my body say it was tired. Exhausted. Even all of my self–care wasn’t helping.
And then I remembered telling my partner several times that I was waking up more tired than I was when I went to sleep. I sleep with a CPAP and my AHI has been below 2, so I know it’s not apnea (always a concern with waking up more tired).
I’ve also recently been sleeping with my smartwatch on (🚫🍎) at the suggestion of my guides and it tracks my sleep. So I started looking into the statistics.
Lo and behold, I’ve been getting an average of less than 20 minutes of deep sleep each night for the past two weeks. Deep sleep is the restorative sleep when healing happens.
Well, no wonder my body says it’s exhausted.
I’d already increased the amount of magnesium I take at night, recommended by my doctor to help with the joint dysfunction/injury and related inflammation and muscle knots. I was GETTING to sleep well enough, but I often woke with night sweats or pain in my feet or for no obvious reason at all.
I’d chalked all of this up to fibromyalgia or menopause or dehydration or some combination of all three, and other than continuing to try to drink more despite not being thirsty, I figured I’d just have to live with it.
But reading an article in the journal Sleep about the effect of deep sleep deprivation on hormones revealed that in a study published in 2019, sleep deprivation also sent hormones into chaos, including vasopressin, which controls the body’s hydration levels and moderates the feeling of thirst.
Could my struggle to drink enough water be physiological? And could it be caused by sleep issues?
I also know about my body that I LOVE having something heavy over my upper arms and shoulders when I sleep. I’d been using a second blanket over my sheet and regular blanket. But I kept getting an intuitive ping about using my weighted blanket.
So, last night I arranged my regular blanket down at the foot of the bed, spread out my weighted blanket instead, and slept with just that and a sheet. There’s no padding in my weighted blanket; it’s just two layers of cotton with glass beads in between. It’s heavy (20#) but not particularly warm.
I also achieved my hydration goal yesterday for the first time in a long time (many months), drinking 85oz of uncaffeinated, calorie-free liquid (mostly water).
The net effect was that I had to get up three times to use the bathroom, but I got right back to sleep easily. And when I checked my sleep statistics this morning, an astonishing 81% of my sleep was in deep sleep!
I’m still tired today, but my body is more relaxed than it’s been in months, and I can feel in my body that I’m on the right track to better health.
For the first time in six months, I feel hopeful about my physical health. Other than my hip joint issue, all of the other tests to get to the bottom of my symptoms (chief among them being severe fatigue) were normal. My doctors say I’m fine. But my body says it’s so very, very tired. And I finally listened.
If you were to really, truly listen to your body, what would it be telling you?
Mental blocks. Distorted thinking. Cognitive distortions. Stinkin’ thinkin’.
There are a lot of names for it, but these are all ways to refer to a pattern of inaccurate thoughts or beliefs that keep us stuck and unable to heal old wounds and trauma. The other day, I was asked about one of mine.
“What will take you out, every time?” one of my coaches asked.
I knew well enough not to think too hard about it but instead go with my intuitive sense. “Criticism,” I said.
And then, working with that, I was able to narrow it down. It wasn’t just criticism. It wasn’t just uninvited criticism. It was uninvited criticism about how I expressed myself—my words and appearance. That pointed to an old wound, heavily criticized as a child by family members as well as peers about how I told stories, how I sang, how I dressed, my hair, my weight, my teeth, my height, my intelligence.
It’s as if one of my child parts got stuck as a skinny nine-year-old, deep-thinking weirdo with buck teeth, braces, long, stringy hair, and messy handwriting. A person assigned female at birth with severe body dysmorphia who talks too much, sings too much, cares too much, talks to invisible people, and spends too much time writing and daydreaming and not enough time doing chores.
That nine-year-old was convinced they were too much and not enough, all at once.
But adult-me doesn’t generally get that kind of criticism, and if I do, it’s from someone I don’t trust and don’t have room for in my life.
So, it’s not criticism that takes me out. It’s the anticipation of criticism. Because that nine-year-old is still expecting it around every corner.
What have I done in reaction to that fear, that anticipation? I silence and squash myself. I make myself small, unnoticeable, forgettable. I will even breathe so shallowly that no one can hear me, and I can barely feel it myself.
It’s almost as if I will myself not to exist anymore.
That’s no way to live. In fact, I could argue that that’s a kind of death.
When I work with my clients, we invite our soul guides in. What are soul guides? I use “soul guides” as an umbrella term to encompass spirit guides, angels/messengers, ascended masters, animal spirits, ancestors, our higher self, and the Source of All. Each one may have a different role to play in supporting us to experience what we’re here to experience.
It’s not about following their directions or doing what they say. (Real guides won’t tell you what to do; they’ll offer suggestions and defer to your free will.) Rather, it’s that our guides see us as we really are, underneath the self-criticism and shame. They see our true essence, with loving eyes, not critical ones.
Some people don’t silence and squash themselves. They make themselves bigger, better, best. It still hides the same self-criticism and shame. And their guides can see through it.
“If you saw yourselves the way we see you,” Dresden, my primary guide, said in my forthcoming book 10 Things Your Soul Guides Want You to Know: Especially If You Have Anxiety, Depression, Chronic Pain, or PTSD, “you would treat yourselves like the divine beings you are.”
It’s a process to begin accepting such a perspective. I argued for years against it, until I exhausted my arguments and came to realize that I was arguing for silencing and squashing myself. I was, in effect, betraying myself every time I shut myself down. I didn’t even need those uninvited, untrusted critics. I was doing their dirty work for them.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about four questions to ask in determining who earned the right to offer her criticism to which she’d listen. My guides meet all four of these criteria. My critical relatives did not. Nor does my inner critic.
Today, I’ve got that nine-year-old’s back. They grew up into a thoughtful, loving, compassionate person who still talks to invisible people, even (or especially) while doing chores. It’s time to stop silencing and squashing ourselves. It’s time to live from our whole essence.
Is your inner critic getting you down? Sign up to download my free mini-ebook, Self-Talk and the Inner Critic.