When I ask my new coaching clients what their bodies are telling them, they often say, “I don’t know.”

Here are three main roadblocks my clients encounter when learning to listen to their bodies and what to do about them:

  1. They expect their bodies to give them conclusive and immediate answers. When they don’t, they think they’re doing it wrong. The reality is, finding words to describe how we feel often sounds slow and messy.
  2. They expect their feelings to be louder than they often are. “Listening to your body” is such a limited phrase (though I struggle to find a better one in the English language). For most people, it’s not as though our bodies speak out loud to us. Instead, our sensations are often quite subtle. Even nothing is something.
  3. They’ve experienced trauma, and their body doesn’t yet feel safe to inhabit. A common sign of trauma is fleeing the body and numbing out. To heal, we must sometimes reopen our wounds and allow the pain to surface.

If you’ve experienced trauma, to feel safe reconnecting, I recommend seeking support from a trauma-informed therapist, especially one trained in Internal Family Systems, Somatic Experiencing, or Focusing.

Finding words to describe how we feel often sounds something like this:

“Hmm . . . what do I feel? There’s an anxiety in my solar plexus . . . no, that’s not quite right . . . it’s like a tightening . . . a heat? No, a tightening . . . I’m not quite sure what emotion it is . . . you know, I think it’s sadness . . . yeah, that’s right, I feel sad. Huh! I had no idea I felt sad . . . yeah, it’s a sad tightening in my solar plexus . . . I wonder what the sad part is wanting to say . . .”

Although it can feel scary to start to heal, you have a lot to look forward to. The same receptors in our bodies that feel pain also feel pleasure. So when we relearn to feel pain, we also increase our capacity for joy.

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