Decisions are primarily a function of thought. Or, so we’re told. There’s no way around using the mind to make decisions like saving money, buying a car, or grocery shopping. However, decisions that directly affect your body don’t have to originate from our mind. Our bodies – made up of trillions of autonomous cells – are also capable of guiding the decision-making process. Often with better results.
The difference between making decisions from the mind and allowing your body to guide you is vast. Decisions made from the mind are often impulsive and don’t turn out well. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, giving in to the impulse to eat chocolate cake isn’t going to help you. With body wisdom, you’ll immediately understand that cravings are nutritional deficiencies in disguise.
If you haven’t developed body wisdom yet, or if you want to strengthen your ability to hear those faint calls and silence your mind’s attempt to override them, try these tips:
- Don’t self-diagnose your physical symptoms
How many times have you explained away stomach pain as indigestion? This is a common self-diagnosis, but what if your stomach pain indicates a food allergy or hypothyroidism? Both are equally possible causes. Hypothyroidism can cause constipation by slowing down metabolism, and the pain can be felt in the stomach.
Other symptoms common to self-diagnosis are fatigue, vision problems, and headaches. Say you experience all three at once. It’s easy to attribute vision problems to an existing headache. You probably won’t think your fatigue is even related to either issue, but it could be an indication of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Common TBI symptoms include nausea, headaches, dizziness, vision problems, fatigue, and concentration problems. On their own, these symptoms don’t seem urgent, but if it’s a TBI, it could be life-threatening. You might not think that fall you took last week was any big deal, but you don’t need to hit your head hard to experience a TBI.
By self-diagnosing physical symptoms, you decide the source of your pain or discomfort and other possibilities remain invisible despite other signs your body is sending. Self-diagnosing diverts your attention away from your body’s communications while you focus on what you believe is the only cause.
In the case of blurred vision, once you decide your vision problems are caused by your headache, you won’t think to see a doctor for your headache because everyone gets headaches. Likewise, if you decide your stomach pain is due to indigestion, it won’t occur to you to take a food allergy test.
- Keep a daily journal
Briefly writing in a journal each day establishes a baseline for your experiences. To develop body wisdom, you’ll need to notice changes over time. Sometimes changes aren’t noticeable, or they’re easily passed off as coincidence. For example, say you regularly eat eggs and one day, you feel sick after eating an omelet at a restaurant. You might attribute your experience to improper food handling. Perhaps you don’t eat eggs for several weeks and it happens again – this time with egg salad.
When you’re used to eating eggs, it doesn’t occur to you that you’ve eaten something your body doesn’t want. Your mind wants to rationalize the situation, but your body might be telling you not to eat eggs anymore. With a journal, you can remind yourself that the experience has happened before and perhaps deserves a closer look.
Nutritional needs change over time, and some people’s bodies reject certain foods they ate just yesterday. It happens to people all the time. In fact, many people experience the rejection of processed foods, causing them to become vegan out of dietary necessity.
- Don’t cover up the pain with drugs
By self-diagnosing pain, you’re likely to cover it up with painkillers, causing you to miss the other signals your body is sending out.
Develop body wisdom by suspending conclusions
The key to developing body wisdom is to take note of your experiences without forming conclusions. Don’t discount one symptom because you think it’s unrelated. Listen to your body without explaining. To prevent your mind from making hasty decisions, practice sitting with your symptoms without trying to figure them out. Allow yourself to get all the information, but remember, if your symptoms are severe, you should see a doctor immediately.