As someone who needs to prioritize maintaining stable mental health—as I’m sure many folx do—listening to my body is a necessity. It’s a practice that creates healthy tension in my life and creative work. On the one hand, I am able to push the limits of what I think I’m capable of. On the other hand, I know when it’s time to reign myself and/or my work in to avoid burnout. I am constantly asking myself what I need to keep doing the work that matters to me long-term.
Collecting body data is not something we’re taught to do in late capitalism. This would be too threatening to a system that thrives on the oppression and control of most bodies. If we listened to our bodies more frequently, the world as we know it would fall apart. We’d finally have to get in touch with the pain of our trauma; everything from the personal to the environmental would finally be brought out into the open.
Humans are hardwired to avoid pain. Which, on a survival level, makes sense. That being said, most of us are not simply surviving. We have some level of comfort; our basic needs are being met. So the pain we’re skillfully avoiding—by bingeing on Netflix, scrolling through social media, and indulging in other distractions—is a deeper kind of pain. It’s the kind that arises when we’re feeling unfulfilled creatively, spiritually, and interpersonally.
With all this pain looming on the horizon, our bodies become an invaluable tool to help us include and transcend it. While our minds might be anxious that we’ll get trapped in pain if we open ourselves up to it even just a little, our bodies know that feeling begets letting go. As is with most things in life, the shortest path from A to Z is to go straight through the chaos. Using as much support from others and/or other support systems as you need.
I often wonder what the monetary cost of not sourcing our bodies for data is. It hurts me to think about all the money I’ve spent on trying to change my body in unhealthy ways. On the funds put into seeking help with recovery when I’ve taken contorting myself to societal expectations too far. On the impulsive purchases all the times when I was desperate enough to feel like a quick-fix might just work this time.
When I talk about financial wellbeing, what I’m really talking about is having the means to take care of yourself in the ways that feel right for you. It’s having the time and the energy to get back in touch with your body and its deeper needs. It’s being able to feel the pain that’s keeping you from moving forward in life with ample support to help you along. Because chances are, the more you’re able to collect body data, the more fulfilled you’ll feel in every facet of your life.
So, what is your body trying to tell you about what you need?