Do You Trust Yourself?By Dr. Margaret Paul
July 20, 2015
Do you trust your own feelings and perceptions? What happens when you don't?
Juliette has been struggling with fatigue and pain for many years. She has gone from doctor to doctor, and from diagnosis to diagnosis, but still doesn't know why she continues to suffer. She has followed many different ways of eating – from vegan to vegetarian to Paleo. She eats only organic food, does yoga, is married with two teenage children, has many friends and plenty of money. She is perplexed regarding why she has not been able to heal.
In our first Skype session, it was clearly evident to me that Juliette lives in her head and is very disconnected from her body and her feelings. She learned to live in her head early in her life to avoid the loneliness of being raised by disconnected and narcissistic parents. Now she stays focused in her head to avoid the loneliness of her disconnected marriage. Staying focused in her mind is the major way she avoids her feelings.
A major aspect of becoming a loving adult is to learn to stay present in your body, tuned in to your feelings and trusting your feelings. All physical and emotional feelings and sensations have information for us, as do all our perceptions. When you stay focused in your mind rather than in your body, you disconnect from your feelings and therefore bypass the vital information you need to know regarding whether something is right or wrong for you, and whether you are loving yourself or abandoning yourself.
While I don't pretend to know the physical causes of Juliette's pain and fatigue, I do know that not trusting her own feelings is a major aspect of her illness. She gives her authority away to doctors rather than trusting her own body. She eats the foods they tell her to eat, even when those foods feel bad to her. She takes the drugs they tell her to take, even when they make her sicker.
Juliette wants someone else to have the answers for her. She doesn't want to risk trusting herself. What if she's wrong? What if she makes a mistake and things get worse? That possibility is so scary for her that she completely bypasses her own inner knowing and hands her trust over to authorities.
The problem is that not trusting herself creates much inner stress, and it may be that this stress itself is the major cause of her illness.
Research indicates that stress is a killer – responsible for 90% of illness.
How would things change if Juliette trusted herself? The very act of trusting her feelings would immediately relieve the inner stress of not listening to her feelings – not listening to her inner source of guidance. Just as children feel relieved when someone finally listens to them, so our inner child feels relieved when we finally listen to ourselves.
Of course, it's also scary for Juliette to listen to her feelings of loneliness and disconnection with her husband. But until she connects with herself, she doesn't have a chance of knowing whether or not she can connect with her husband. It's easy for her to believe that it's his fault, but she has no way of knowing this as long as she is disconnected from herself.
Juliette is now having some good days – days with less pain and fatigue - as she is learning to stay in her body, present with her feelings, in Step One of Inner Bonding.
It's not easy to reverse a lifetime of staying focused in your head, but I encourage you to practice staying present in your body, mindful of your feelings. All your feelings, both physical and emotional, have much amazing and powerful information for you.
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It's a challenge to take responsibility for our own feelings when we are alone, and even more of a challenge when we are with others. Today, notice the various ways you make others responsible for your feelings - not speaking up, saying yes when you mean no, blaming, feeling hurt, waiting, people-pleasing, getting angry, withdrawing, numbing out, punishing, and so on. Just notice without judgment.
By Dr. Margaret Paul