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What Are You Saying to Your Body?

By Phyllis Stein, Ph.D.
March 31, 2009

Are you aware of the subtle inner conversation between your wounded self and your body? Tune in so that you can change it to something more loving.

In Inner Bonding work, we focus a lot on what our wounded self is telling us.  We become aware of the inner judgments that cause us so much pain, judgments of our feelings, our words, our performance, our worth.  We learn to let go of the beliefs about control that fuel our judgmental inner child and replace them with the actions of love and caring.  Until a few weeks ago, I believed that I had pretty much mastered this.

I also have severe arthritis in my hips and other issues that lead to a lot of physical discomfort, especially when I walk.   I am always looking for more ways to learn from and about this, so I had an energy healing session with a gifted friend.  She told me "I know that you don't judge yourself, but there is some way that you are punishing yourself and this has something to do with the pain."  "Interesting," I thought.  

The next weekend, I was getting a massage and my right leg took a lot of work before it could let go.   After it was finally able to relax, my massage therapist turned to the left one.   I found myself saying to my right leg, "I wish you were more like the left one."  Boing!  My calf muscle jerked into spasm.   After it relaxed, I tried it again.  Boing!  By the third time I was laughing.  What on earth have I been telling my body?

I was astounded.  What I was telling my body, when I felt any pain, was that it was happening because I had done something wrong - not done something enough, done it too much, whatever.  The basic message was that whatever was happening was a punishment for something I did wrong.  It was my mother speaking!!!!  Hurting me because I was hurting.  To say I could hardly believe it is an understatement!  My friend was so right!  I was actually punishing myself without knowing it.

In addition, I realized that I had taken care of my body exactly the way my mother did.  She did take good physical care of me, crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's, but for her it was a job, a problem to be solved. I have been doing the same thing.  I eat well, exercise as much as I am able, get enough sleep etc, but I too have done it in the same spirit as my mother.  It is a job, a series of problems to be solved.

I really did not have to do much to let go of this one, just become conscious of something that was completely off my radar.  Something that had given me the illusion of control where there was none.  Now, when I hurt, instead of having this harsh reaction, I can go to compassion for myself and gently explore what I can do to take care of myself.

I also had an amazing experience on the plane this weekend.  Normally, when I am stuffed into a cramped airplane seat, I emerge a bundle of cramped misery.  This time, I focused on just taking care of myself, listening to my body, moving when I needed to.  But the amazing thing was when I massaged my legs.  For the first time, I was able to massage my sore muscles in a way that gave me pleasure.  I had truly believed that someone else has to do it for it to feel really good.   Guess what, that one is not true either!  When I do it with love and compassion, it feels great.   And when I get back into problem solving mode, it does not.

So, here is a reality check for you.  I know that a lot of people are consciously aware of their issues around caring for their bodies but for those who think they don't have them, you just might ask: "What am I telling my body when I feel discomfort?"  "How am I explaining this discomfort?"  "Do I believe that if I were better this discomfort would not exist, therefore I deserve it?"  "Can I take care of myself in a way that makes me feel more loved?"  I am still in the process of learning how great this new and loving relationship with my body can be.  How exciting is that!



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