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Living a New Life

musings of the day

Body Language

My body has a language all its own, developed over the course of a lifetime communicating with me. It has learned to speak very loudly when it needs to, the times when I can’t hear it any other way. We had a run-in lately. I wasn’t listening and it needed to get my attention in a way I would recognize. For me that is usually some sort of physical ill that I can’t ignore, one that interrupts my ability to function so completely that I have no choice but to listen.

For those of us who are highly sensitive, our bodies are often our greatest allies because we’re tuned into the subtle cues that others might be able to ignore. We feel the impact of stress more acutely. Any interruption in our equilibrium sets us into a tailspin that requires attention and care. In my case, anxiety and panic often accompany those cues. They are there to tell me that the external forces weighing on me have reached a critical level and I need to step back. They are a barometer for how much my nervous system can handle without crashing. I’m fortunate to be as sensitive as I am, because I am also stubborn and hard headed and will pile on more than any one person should ever handle at once, believing all the way that I can. I’m strong and I can shoulder a lot, but as I’ve seen, I pay the price. My high degree of sensitivity has been my barometer, saving me before I take on that one extra load that might set me over the edge.

I share this now because as I get older I find myself more vulnerable to the effects of “too much”. I can’t juggle all the balls I used to and be OK anymore. My shoulders don’t want to carry as big a load either. Aging has brought with it a certain humility and for that I’m very grateful, because I no longer see my strength in the same way. It isn't how much I can carry that shows me my value. It is my ability to listen to and follow the cues as they present themselves that shows me my true strength. It is my willingness to be honest and true to what is necessary for my well being and to say “no” to what I would have shouldered in the past. I don’t measure my strength in the pounds of iron I can lift as much as the courage I have to let go of the extra weight that I no longer need to burden myself with. To say “no” to more. To say “I’ve had enough” before I crash to the ground. I do wish I had learned this at a younger age. Perhaps aging would have been a bit easier and gentler.

You would think that a lesson learned is a lesson learned, but this is one of those that I have learned and relearned countless times over my lifetime. I hear the whispers, but don’t heed them, usually out of fear of what they might entail. Then I wait for the shouts to bring me to my knees before opening my eyes to the fact that there were signs all along that could have prevented ever having to be shouted at.

My body has been my greatest ally, though I’ve often seen it as an adversary, the thing that keeps me from what I want. If I do choose to listen to it, I have to humble myself because it usually tells me that less is better for me. It often tells me to stop before I think I want to. And it wants more joy and pleasure for me than I have been comfortable allowing. My body knows the truth of what I need to be fulfilled and healthy and at peace. Lately I didn’t listen. So many externals kept coming at me to handle, changes and rude awakenings, unexpected challenges. I thought I had to handle it all as it came. I kept piling it on. I was blind to the effect it was having. Again. Until I wasn’t.

I know I’m not alone here. We live in a world that teaches us to always strive for more, to take on more and to be more. We are part of a culture that doesn’t reward sensitivity, taking time to soothe ourselves, being gentle with ourselves. It doesn’t value “less”, rather sees it as weak and sub-par. Without withdrawing from the world completely, how can we live gentler lives and still see ourselves as valuable? If we are not striving all the time, but instead we are honoring when our bodies are telling us it’s enough, is that enough in and of itself?

I have come to the conclusion that the saying “less is more”, is true, at least for myself. Being less, which means letting go of striving for more, is actually being more in my view. Because fully being myself whatever that happens to be, is more than enough for me. It is not about trying to be more than I am, as if who I am is not adequate. It is being all that I am that makes even the simple act of being, more than enough. Now if only I can say that I have finally learned and integrated this one, I’ll be light years ahead of where I was yesterday. I know only too well that this one is so challenging to the patterns of a lifetime, that I will have to relearn it again, possibly in the not too distant future.



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