Thinking Out Loud 3/19/15: Selective Listening

Good morning, lovely readers! I was delighted to look out my window this morning after nine hours of glorious sleep and be greeted by the sun shining brilliantly in my window. It has been a little rainy lately, so the sunshine is welcomed with open arms.

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I don’t know why, but lately I have felt exhausted. I can usually go a few days with subpar sleep and feel alright, but lately it totally runs me down to do so. I have been trying to heed my body’s call for rest, which got me thinking about our tendency to selectively listen to our bodies rather than fully trusting them. Today, I’m linking up with Amanda to share a few of these thoughts with you lovely people!

If you were tired, would you count how many hours of sleep you have had over the last week to determine whether you deserve more? Would you feel ashamed of falling asleep before a certain time? Would you punish yourself by setting your alarm extra early the next day?

If you were thirsty, would you feel guilty about it? Would you try to talk yourself out of being thirsty? Would you simply try to distract yourself from thirst, or count how many glasses of water you have already had to decide whether you can have another?

If you were feeling cold, would you check the thermostat to see whether or not your deserved to be cold? Would you deny yourself a blanket or a sweater? Would you harshly judge how cold your fingers and toes feel and jump to conclusions about what that means about you as a person?

I would hope that you would answer ‘no’ to all of the above scenarios. It sounds absurd to even entertain these ideas, doesn’t it? Yet, when it comes to hunger and to food, many of us approach our bodies with judgment and rules rather than trust. Why do we interrogate ourselves for hunger rather than accepting our bodies’ needs?

We have gotten into the habit of selectively listening to our bodies, and it is a big problem. I don’t know exactly how our society’s views toward hunger became so askew, but that is the reality. Those of us attempting to choose to listen to our bodies are met with a culture that does not understand where we are coming from, which can be a challenge. It takes practice and patience to accept hunger without judgment. This is something that I am still certainly working on, but I have found a few things to be helpful as I work toward my goal of implicit trust in my body:

1. If you are hungry, own it. Tell yourself that you are hungry. Tell other people that you are hungry. Say it out loud or in your head, but say it as matter-of-factly as possible and without judgment. And then eat.

2. Practice listening to your body in areas other than hunger as well. If you need to use the bathroom, excuse yourself rather than waiting. If you are thirsty, drink a glass of water. If you lie down with the intention of reading and fall asleep instead, go to bed. The more we practice listening to our bodies, the easier it will become.

3. As hard as it is, try to shut out others’ comments about food. If your friend says something about how they shouldn’t have eaten a cookie, try to ignore it. If I find it hard to ignore somebody’s comment, I will sometimes come up with a reply in my head. For example, if my boss is talking about feeling like she was “bad” because she ate a cupcake, I will silently tell myself that the only bad decision that can be made when one is hungry is to eat nothing. Not everybody is trying to tune into their body like you are, and you need to care for yourself first and foremost.

These strategies have helped me as I learn to listen to my body, and I hope that they are useful to you as well. If you have any ideas of your own, please send them my way – I would love to see them!

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2 thoughts on “Thinking Out Loud 3/19/15: Selective Listening

  1. I think selective listening is both helpful and harmful. It is harmful in the ways you suggest, but also is a way to exceed limits and boundaries. This of running, sometimes we think your body wants us to stop. It’s called the Central Governor between the mind and body. If we listened to what our body said, we would all probably stop walking/running etc way before we could/should. The way elite athletes are able to not listen to that part of their mind is how they achieve optimal performance.
    I totally agree with you about the cold and thirst though! Just my thoughts 🙂

    • I agree that elite athletes can do well using their minds to power through a hard workout, but I spent a long time in my disorder running when I should have listened to my body. I am now suffering the effects of the injury because I didn’t listen to my body’s pain, 2 years later :s

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