How to Understand the Body’s Story


How to Understand the Body’s Story


Are you experiencing symptoms or pain that are hard to explain? It may be time to listen to your body’s story.

When we engage in counseling or other forms of healing work, we often have a story to tell. We talk about what happened to us, how we feel about it, and what we want next. It’s an intellectual exercise of pulling out the useful details and lining them up so someone can understand where we are coming from and where we want to go.

This is useful, as there is plenty of good insight and information that can come from that kind of narrative. But what about the body? How would the body tell that story?

What was felt and experienced by the body during times of change and stress? How was it treated then and now? Is it listened to? What does it need right now? We might be surprised to find that our bodies' stories are quite different from the mental narratives we carry around about what we’ve been through. When we ask the body, we may find deep emotion, unresolved wounds, and trauma. At the same time, however, it’s often the body that holds the keys to healing all of those things.

The Mind’s Story Versus the Body’s Story

Our rational minds are very good at telling a story. Part of the role of the mind is to help us get through the day, to function and get along with others. That means the rational mind ignores or avoids some of the truths that must then be held in the body instead. But the body does not forget. The body does not lie.

The body can, however, get confused. It’s often through the body that we overreact to relatively innocuous situations in the present because there is some embodied memory that gets triggered from the past. When we can connect the wires between the mind and the body, we can start to clarify what part of ourselves is reacting and why, and support ourselves to heal in a more holistic way.

How Mind-Body Disconnect Affects Us

When there is a disconnect between the body and the mind in this way, we are primed for sickness. Keeping something separate from the mind is stressful, and stress shows up physically. It’s often through our physical symptoms that we begin to clue in that there might be something unprocessed in our past or present that needs attention.

We can’t avoid all stressors, of course, and we shouldn’t—some stress is healthy and important for growth. But how do we cope with stress when it comes? Do we swallow our own feelings with food, later causing a stomach ache or other digestive symptoms? Do we neglect our own needs in order to stay liked and needed and accepted, and later find ourselves with chronic health issues from not listening to our own needs and instincts? Were we harmed in a part of our bodies that still expresses pain, even though we’re pretty sure we’re “over it?"

Healing Unresolved Symptoms With the Body’s Story

If you have symptoms in your body that feel mysterious to you, ask your body how it would tell its story. Write down the story from your body’s perspective, and then re-read it. Notice how it feels to pay attention to what’s happening in your body right now. Ask yourself if these physical symptoms are doing anything useful for you in your life.

Understanding the body’s story isn’t necessarily a cure to all physical symptoms, but it can give us great insight into our own experiences and what our experiences have meant to us. Sometimes we discover that our body’s symptoms show up when we need to pay attention, when our needs aren’t getting met, and when we need help to say "no" when we feel we can’t.

If we adjusted those habits and patterns, we might, in time, discover that the body has a new story to tell.

Learn the key to better patience—with yourself and with others.


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How to Understand the Bodys Story

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