Monday, March 21, 2011

Breathe Strategy - H is for Hear

If I had to pick only one strategy to follow, this is the strategy I would pick.  I didn't realize in the beginning the importance of this strategy.  My awareness of it's importance has slowly grown over time and so has my understanding of what to "hear" really means. 

When the Breathe acronym first came to me I thought the "hear" was to hear and help others.  Hearing what others need and helping them is extremely important, but it is equally important  to "hear" yourself.  I hadn't realized that I wasn't listening to myself at all.  When I quit my job my last full-time job, I was suffering from unbelievable fatigue.  After being a stay-at-home mom for the next several years, the fatigue continued to worsen, I went to see a naturopathic doctor (I had seen several doctors and even specialists who couldn't help me).  She diagnosed me with Adrenal Exhaustion and put me on an adrenal gland support which changed my world.

She also gave me a really amazing tool to "hear" what my body was trying to tell me.  At my first visit with her she asked me how I felt on a scale of 1-100 (100 being the best I've ever felt) and she encouraged me to say the first number that popped into my head.  I was surprised at the low number that popped out of my mouth.  After hearing my answer, she said that we needed to get me to 80 or above, which eventually I was able to.  I still use this method to see how I am doing, not just with fatigue, but also many other factors of my life.

I understand now that my fatigue was my body telling me that it needed time to rest and recover, but I just kept working trying to get everything "done."  Our bodies are amazing things and they are constantly communicating with us, every pain and hurt is a message.  The question is are we listening to what it is trying to tell us?

The last few years I've had a problem with falling.  My first fall was only down two steps, but it was the most destructive to my body.  As I hobbled into the house crying in pain, my son got some ice for me and said, "I think your body is telling you that you are doing too much."  He was right, but I still didn't listen.  I just kept pushing through projects and over the next few weeks had several more falls.  Over a year later I had a few more falls.  After one particular fall when I was outside working in the yard, I kept working through the pain in my ankle just because I wanted to get the project done.  There I was trying to carry some rocks and I could hardly walk.  I finally got smart and quit working.  But I paid a price for taking so long to listen by having a longer recovery time, needing some physical therapy and having to wear an air cast.

Our body isn't the only thing we need to listen to, we need to listen to our emotions.  I have a very bad habit of taking my emotions and shutting them down.  I "box" them up inside of me and ignore them.  This too has had some bad consequences and I am learning how to "hear" those emotions and work through them as they happen instead of having to deal with them later because they always come up (see the book Feelings Buried Alive Never Die).  We cannot hide from our emotions forever, they will demand attention at some point.  I realize now that feeling those emotions as they are happening and working through them is much easier than trying to shove them down over and over again.

Another very important thing that we need to "hear" is our spirit.  One day I was writing in my journal about how I didn't feel like I was worth much, but then I wrote "something inside me says that isn't true."  As I continued to write in my journal over the next several weeks, this kept happening.  "Something" inside me kept saying that I had value.  It finally occurred to me that that "something" was my spirit, that part of me that has always been, that was me before coming to earth, that was me through my childhood and was me now.  As I listen to my spirit, I connect with my real self, not the me that pretends that I'm okay all the time, that pretends that I don't hurt physically or emotionally.  I listen and hear the real me that knows that I feel and love and have value just because of who I am, not what I do.

I believe that we are like a three legged stool.  The legs are:  our body, our emotions, and our spirit.  We need the support of all three legs.  And when we are not supporting one of those legs, we fall.  In order to remain healthy and strong, we need to hear all three aspects of ourselves. 

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