Are you ready to listen to your body?
Are you ready to listen to your body? iStock

Is anybody listening to what their body has to say?

When was the last time you listened to your body? It may seem like a strange question, yet it could be one that helps to shift your perspective.

The mind and body are intricately connected, forever interacting, communicating and working in tandem. Due to the likelihood that we are always having a conversation with ourselves (that sometimes includes others), we spend a lot of time paying attention to all that we are thinking, particularly the unhelpful, self-critical parts, but rarely if ever listen to what our body is telling us.

For example, when was the last time that you experienced pain in your foot, shoulder, leg, chest, stomach or somewhere else and, instead of exploring what may have caused it, ignored it and reached for some pill or other form of self-medication to keep it quiet, hoping it would just go away?

We all have a tendency at times to blame our body or an external set of circumstances for getting sick, causing discomfort or giving us a serious health problem, forgetting that the mind and body are connected and that, at some level, we have contributed to it, unconsciously, through our behaviour, habits or mindset.

For some, that can be a harder pill to swallow.

It's highly unlikely that we would consciously make ourselves sick, yet our body does not lie. We often choose to ignore the quiet signs it offers us indicating that something needs attention and giving us the opportunity to take action early. If we continue to ignore the signs, the body offers us more signs, delivering them more frequently and with more urgency. Have you experienced that?

What happens next is that the body may need to give us a serious wake-up call that jolts us from our reverie of denial - and that can be quite a shock. Our back locks up, our knee gives way, we develop an ulcer, break a bone or develop a heart problem - any of which can stop us in our tracks - and even then we may not change anything. Being human, it can take us a while to learn the lessons offered.

Learning to pay attention to the small messages from our body sooner rather than later, and choosing not to numb, ignore or override them, allows us to consider which of our behaviours, beliefs or mindset may be causing the problem in the first place and find a way to shift them.

So, next time you are tempted to exercise through the pain, take on more work or responsibility than you can reasonably handle or make unwise food or drink choices, maybe try a different strategy. Stop, breathe, listen and make a choice that is more effective for your body rather than pleasing your mind and taking whatever "advice” your inner critic may be giving you: "no pain no gain, just one more won't do any harm, you can handle it, think of the money”. Are you ready to listen?

Rowena Hardy is a facilitator, performance coach and partner of Minds Aligned: