In honor of National Women’s Health Week, let’s chat more about health and what it means to us.
Another part of being healthy, I think, is listening to your gut.
You know how we try to tune into our bodies’ internal cues of hunger and satiety, and respond accordingly?
Well, it’s also important to tune into our inner voice when it comes to life in general.
If you recall, in my post on 28 things I know to be true about body image and life, inspired by the awesome Jenna at Eat Live Run, I briefly talked about making decisions. I said:
“Even if you have trouble deciding the seemingly small stuff, like what you want to eat for dinner (I can take 10 minutes to read a menu and then another 5 asking the server about how they like the food and whether I can make a few substitutions), learn to become more decisive.
Because you know what? Deep down, you do know what you want. You just might be used to a) letting others take the reins b) silencing yourself or c) being afraid to voice your opinion.”
Even if you’re the most indecisive person on the planet (umm, I’m talking to me here, too), deep down, you know what you want.
You just have to listen.
Listening to yourself is key to health because then you’re living life by honoring your own likes, dislikes, desires, passions, goals. By going with what feels safe and nourishing to you. What feels right to you.
Recently, I read a beautiful guest post by Susannah Conway (who’s seriously my idol!), where she talks about trusting herself. She writes:
“I learned how to trust my intuition in the worst of circumstances. When the man I loved died from a heart attack in 2005 I fled our home city of London to be closer to my family on the south coast of England. I instinctively knew I needed to be closer to the sea, even though it meant leaving behind so many memories in the city. The experts tell you not to make any big decisions in the first year of bereavement, but I knew I had to move, I knew I needed to find my own space to be able to truly heal. And even though that first year was excruciating, painful beyond anything I had ever experienced, my intuition had been right. I found a therapist I could spill my heart to as I began to process what had happened and slowly learned how to live on my own and rebuild my life. Those years by the sea were profoundly healing, and in many ways it feels like that was when my life truly began.”
She then talks about making another momentous move and how this turned out to be a great decision (definitely read the entire post). She concludes the post with:
“And that’s the key, really—we know what we need to do, we just have to remember to stop and listen for the clues. I believe we all have unlimited wisdom inside of us that we can draw from whenever we’re feeling lost and uncertain of the next step. If we can get quiet enough and tune out the noise that fills our lives, we can catch a whisper of that knowing—it may come as words, as pictures, as an urge to go somewhere or call someone. It could be a sense of rightness, or a very definite no. I know I’ve got it wrong more times than I’ve got it right, but when I listen to my gut and get brutally honest with myself, life seems to flow with more ease than when I cross my fingers and hope for the best. And this isn’t some woo-woo magic that’s just for the mystically-inclined—this is learning to access the infinitely wise part of ourselves, the part that’s present in every single one of us. And that, to me, is true magic.”
This makes me think of the several big decisions that I’ve made in my life that have felt oh-so right and oh-so wrong (and scary).
When I was finishing up my undergrad, I had the opportunity to move to College Station, TX, of all places – clearly very far away from Florida and anything I’d known before.
But I took it. It was to go to grad school, and it seemed exciting and wonderful. (I also had little clue about what to do after graduation.) I ended up learning a great deal and meeting some of my closest friends.
The next big decision was to leave my doctorate program. My heart just wasn’t in it. I looked around and saw that everyone loved what they were doing (my close friends are clinical psychologists now).
They were passionate about the work. I wasn’t.
So I left after receiving my MS, and that decision led me here and also to spending several years with my parents that I never would’ve gotten to do otherwise. I spent those precious years with my dad before he passed. I don’t regret that for a millisecond.
Listening to yourself, being honest with yourself, can apply to everything we do in life, from the big decisions to the smaller ones.
Maybe it’s listening to what physical activities feel good on your joints or what nutrients your body needs.
Maybe it’s feeling that strange feeling in your stomach that your boundaries are being crossed. That what you’re doing right now isn’t right.
Maybe it’s making a big move to a new city or a new job. Maybe it’s making the commitment to take better care of yourself.
You know what’s right for you. You just have to listen.
When have you listened to your voice and felt a sense of rightness, as Susannah calls it? How do you tune into your inner voice? What does being healthy mean to you?