My clients with health challenges have heard me say again and again that our body is our greatest teacher.
My body’s most persistent lesson is that the path to healing involves loving myself fiercely, and loving all of myself, even the parts I’d rather ignore, like that weird white hair that grows out of my cheek, or the way I’ve mistreated people I love.
I have made huge strides in my healing and I credit that with the progress I have made in the self-love department. With a lot of therapy, coaching, and energy healing support, I love myself a whole lot more than I used to. Still, my body continues to push me to love more deeply and fully. Everytime I reach a milestone in my healing and think, “I must be nearly there,” I see that there’s another horizon to reach, one that requires more love, more attention, more patience, and more acceptance.
Sometimes my reaction is so whiny. Really? But I already love you so much body. Why are you so needy? Believe me, that doesn’t help.
I suspect my body will continue to push me until there are no shadows or hurt parts left. And that makes sense. When we’re feeling guilt, shame, or beating ourselves up in any way, we tend to deny ourselves what we need, on purpose, or because we’re too distracted by our own drama. Conversely, when we love ourselves fully and treat ourselves as we would our most favorite person in the world, it’s a lot easier for healing to happen, because we actually give ourselves what we need. Healing requires us to be our own beloved.
While I have been mostly free of Lyme symptoms since August, my body has found other ways to remind me that there’s more work to be done. Most recently, I had some really profound emotional and physical reactions to bodywork. I had not gotten a massage in awhile. I was saving my resources for other healing modalities, but I had the opportunity to do some trades and jumped right on it. One session was visceral manipulation, which I highly recommend to anyone with digestive challenges. It was the only thing that’s ever made my gallbladder pain go away. It also...made me cry for two days. And that was the second time that happened. I woke up and cried two days in a row after a regular massage a month earlier. A couple weeks later, a different bodywork session landed me in bed the following day with a searing migraine. In each instance, I had to just accept that my body was shedding something and rest. With the crying, I suspect it was just a big emotional release, probably of lingering grief. Us spoonies tend to acquire some of that after years of having to live differently from most humans.
When I wake up crying, my initial reaction is to worry that I’m getting depressed, that I need to seek help, call my psychologist friends, and solve the problem right away. That tizzy I put myself in makes the whole thing worse. I become “hot mess” personified. But once I settle into it and accept that my body needs me to cry and that it won’t be permanent, it resolves itself pretty quickly. In these moments I tell my body that I love it. I ask what it wants and I do my best to deliver.
I tell my body I love it a lot and in general I’ve cultivated a very loving relationship with it. I am able to love it even when it’s causing me pain, or making me feel bloated and pizza-faced. It’s been harder to love my failures. It feels embarrassing even to write about but my biggest hang up is around not being successful – in my business, in healing, and in relationships. Even though I KNOW that no one crushes it 100% of the time, when things don’t go well, or I mess up, or things take way longer than expected, I beat myself up, and pretty brutally sometimes. My friend Heather is good at pulling me out of it. She’ll ask, “why are you being so mean to my friend Noelle right now?”
In addition to her reflection, it’s been useful to learn through coaching that when I’m passing judgment on myself, it’s not coming from my inner wisdom. Instead, it’s a monkey mind conversation.
“Monkey mind” is a Buddhist term for that inner dialogue we all have that endlessly bounces between doubt and worry, and shares it’s unsolicited critical opinion of everything. I heard another coach call it “you inner evil meanie.” It’s probably in the amygdala, the part of the brain that gives us our fight or flight response. The great thing about Monkey Mind is it’s not the truth. It can contain grains of the truth, but it’s not the end all be all, though it would like us to think it is. When we can see that we’re passing judgment on ourselves and that it’s just Monkey Mind, we can come back to what’s actually true. For example, yes, you could have handled that meeting better but you were also recovering from the flu and even Justin Timberlake’s charming self would have struggled.
When we can see Monkey Mind for what it is in the moment, not the truth, then we can choose to shift our attention back to loving ourselves. It’s a practice and something we need to choose again and again, kind of like meditation. You focus on the breath. Your mind wanders. You notice your mind is wandering and you come back to the breath. You don’t get better at meditating, you get better at noticing when you’re not doing it.
Over time, as we master the art of seeing Monkey Mind, we can get really good at coming back to loving ourselves. It frees up so much energy for healing!
If you want to up your self-love game, Uncustomary has some great resources for practicing self-love in small ways every day.
If you see that you would love some hands-on support with recognizing Monkey Mind and learning tools to help you love the poop out our yourself, let’s chat!