We hear it over and over again from our clients and students in the beginning of their journey: Why me? What’s wrong with my body? Why has it betrayed me?
Without realizing it, most people struggling with a health issue have created an adversarial relationship with their bodies. Their self talk sucks.
And since your body houses your subconscious -- one could argue that your body is your subconscious -- how you talk to it matters. A lot.
BTW, this is a no-judgment zone. Practitioners used to try to talk to me about compassion for my body, and I would feel nothing but frustration. Spiritual teachers would try to tell me about patience, and grace, and learning the “lesson” in the physical pain. Trying to listen to them was like growing hives all over my body while it was already having an ongoing meltdown. Forget about “talking to the inner child” when you’re in a crash state. I WAS the inner child, having a full-on tantrum at life in the form of chronic illness. I kept a monologue of frustration going on in the back of my head, cataloging the limitations and faults of my body.
But enough about me and my old hobbies. Let’s talk about Xander.
A giant, muppet-shaped monkey-dog, Xan was just a gangly puppy when he dove head first into a fresh crop of mushrooms in my backyard. He gobbled them up and immediately began throwing up in a stunning 360-degree ballet of vomit.
I absolutely panicked and dragged my huge skinny pup into the bathtub to wash him down before rushing him to the vet. It took both my ex and me and our collective body weight to keep “puppy: exorcist edition” in the tub.
I will never forget Xander’s sweet face and loving eyes as he threw up celery-colored bile all over us and every surface in the bathroom, maintaining loving eye contact and trying to lick my face with big dog kisses in between heaves.
So much love. So much puke. All at the same time.
It was funny, and scary, and irritating, and probably the sweetest memory I have of him. He just loved me SO MUCH.
So innocent, so frustrating, so disgusting. And so adorable.
Our bodies can be like this.
I don’t know exactly when the shift happened, but I finally started to get well when I stopped talking to my body like the shameful ugly stepchild no one wanted, and started talking to it like I would talk to Xander.
I stopped getting out of the shower and inventorying my acne, scars, cellulite and six-months-pregnant-bloat. Instead, I congratulated my body on having the energy to get in the shower at all. “So clean, sweetheart. All better.”
When my body would scream in pain at having to stand up long enough to juice, I would tell it, “You can do this. This juice is just for you, honey. Hang in there, help is on the way.”
Tears of despair would stream down my face as I lay in our bathtub with a coffee enema tube up my butt because someone on the internet said it might help. (It did help, a lot. But I’d get stuck in the tub because I didn’t have the energy to get back up.) All I could say to my body was, “You’re doing it babe, we’ll try to get up again in a minute. Just rest.”
When I shook with nausea as I passed my first gallstones, I said, “Good job, sweetheart.”
As I pulled out malevolent, foot long worms, I said, “So brave. There you go, baby girl.”
No one talks about how gross healing can be.
How frustrating, monotonous, and time consuming it can be, and finally, how magical and delicious and awe-inspiring.
It takes effort, consistency, and kindness to every part of you.
Little by little, the tender sweetness of life comes back into focus.
If you’ve been really sick, it can be disorienting and honestly overwhelming, like coming out of the cold pitch black into ecstatic warm sunshine.
It can happen so gradually you can never quite put your finger on a moment when things got better. But if you’re lucky, you’ll notice the baby steps and tiny wins along the way to celebrate, and tell your body, “Good job sweetheart. You did it. You ate that meal without reacting. F*ck yeah!”
With every sweet encouragement to my body, every supplement, every juice, every enema, every gallstone and parasite release, I got a little bit of myself back.
I reclaimed my sense of awe and wonder - mostly because of what my body showed me it could do. It turns out, my body is absolutely miraculous.
The same is true of yours.
You might be a badass operating at a very high level in various areas of your life, but if your self-talk about your body sucks, you’re unnecessarily draining your life force. I can’t tell you how many 7+ figure CEOs, best-selling authors, and pro athletes come to us with health problems, and their self-talk to their body is harsh, draining, and defeating. It’s not the only reason they haven’t been getting well, but it’s not exactly helping. They start getting better when they commit to healing, which means committing to kindness to their bodies. This is what we tell them:
Talk to your body like it’s a beloved animal, because it is one.
1. Remember your body's innocence.
Innocent and pure, your body is 100% doing the best it can under the circumstances. Your body never phones it in, or takes a sick day. It’s always playing full out, working to achieve balance and well-being.
2. Lower the stakes.
Let go of big pronouncements about what's possible for your body, and your entire life. When you're not feeling well, give your nervous system a break by easing up and focusing on just the task at hand.
3. Talk to your body like it’s a beloved animal, because it is one.
When you rewrite the negative self talk, you free up that energy to actually apply it to healing and repair.
4. Celebrate the small wins.
Every tiny step towards health deserves a heaping dose of appreciation on your body.
Because it will never, ever give up on you, until your absolute last breath. Isn’t that amazing?
It will never stop striving for better balance, more strength, more ease, and well being. Awake or asleep, it is managing thousands upon thousands of processes for you in every moment.
Your body is on your side.
And it wants to feel good.
It needs and deserves your support and unconditional love.
It is your home, and your greatest friend.
We’re on your side too. Come hang out with us on Instagram for inspiration along the way, and a regular reminder that you are never alone on your healing journey.
You got this.