I remember in college wishing myself and all my friends "Happy Singles Awareness Day." When you're happy in a relationship, Valentine's day can be really fun,... or it can be a hassle and one more thing to remember. When you're not in a happy relationship, though, Valentine's day can be miserable.
So I wanted to write for a minute this potentially-emotional morning about emotions and how they work. There are many different facets to emotions and their dealings, but the point I wanted to focus on today is the role of our physical bodies as co-creators of our emotions.
Did you know anxiety and even depression can be caused by dehydration?
Our bodies are tools; they are machines; they are powerful creators with powerful needs.
When our bodies' needs are not being met, our bodies can manufacture the molecules (or "brain chemistry") of emotion to try and get our attention.
Last year or the year before, I was having a truly terrible time dealing with my two-year-old. Just thinking about her would give me heart palpitations. I loved her--but I just couldn't be near her. A single touch from her would make my skin crawl.
One day I was telling a friend about this and my struggle. I was releasing emotions like crazy, doing tons of energy work on myself and my child and our relationship, and yet my body would still physically react to this kid. I couldn't figure it out.
Fortunately, in addition to being energetically gifted, my friend was also a nutritionist. She said: "Oh, don't feel bad. Don't feel guilty. It's just your body trying to give you a message. You're nutritionally depleted and manufacturing emotions of trauma is the only way your body has to tell you."
When she explained it, it made so much sense. I'd been pregnant, nursed Baby #1 through my pregnancy with Baby #2 (the child in question), and then nursed Baby #2 all through my pregnancy with Baby #3--and I was still nursing this two-year-old even though I was also nursing her baby brother.
The fact was, my body was nutritionally depleted. It was really struggling to keep up with so much nursing and the fact was, my two-year-old was very able to sustain herself on regular food.
I didn't loathe my toddler; not really. My body was reacting with heart palpitations, stress, and skin-crawly-feelings when she came close because it was trying to tell me: STOP NURSING THIS KID!! REPLETE YOUR NUTRIENTS!!!
What a blessing that I figured out that then, instead of honestly believing I didn't like my child. I love my girl and I am so glad she's in my life. But my body was being physically depleted of nutrients by the nature of my relationship with her, and something had to change--so my body reacted by creating negative emotional feelings in an attempt to get my conscious attention. If I had been listening to my body more closely, maybe I would have weaned her sooner. As soon as she was weaned, our relationship and my emotions around her got SO much better.
Bodies create emotions to get our attention
One book I highly recommend is called Your Body's Many Cries For Water. Go read the book, but one highlight for me was learning that the body can manufacture emotions of anxiety and depression for the primary purpose of getting us to realize we arethirsty. Your body says-- "I AM ANXIOUS FOR WATER!!!" and so many times, we don't understand the message.
Have you seen this meme?
Isn't that just how it goes? Pardon the use of the Lord's name in vain, I couldn't find an edited version. But our bodies try so hard to communicate their needs to us, and so many times, we end up thinking, "guess we'll never know."
Today, I invite you to consider the possibility that some of your negative daily emotions have a nutritional root. I invite you to drink more water than you think you need, say NO to a sugary Valentine's dessert that will only place your body under even more stress, and eat some vegetables!
And here is an exercise you can do today to get a little more in touch with your body and how it's fulfilling its role as a co-creator of your emotions.
Body-Needs Exercise (for Valentine's Day!)
First, get out a pen and paper. You're going to start by writing about the most irritating emotion you regularly experience. Depression/sadness, "numb" emptiness, irritability, anxiety, frustration, worry. Whatever it is, write it down.
Write down how it makes you feel in your body when you think about it. Does your stomach feel tighter? Does your forehead get tight? Does your throat feel dry? What physical body sensations do you feel when you think about this emotion you deal with?
Now go ahead and take a few deep breaths. Put the pen or pencil down. Cover your eyes with your hands and just breathe.
When you feel your body relax into your hands, go ahead and ask yourself: "Body, do you have a message for me with this emotion? Is there something you are trying to tell me that will help me experience better emotions?"
And then just listen. As ideas come to you, write them down--ALL of them, no matter how silly or weird they sound. Don't judge them, just write.
Maybe your body will have a message for you: "I need more water." "I need more magnesium." "I need less sugar." "I need to relax and rest." "I need more sleep." "I need more peace."
You can set a timer for 5-10 minutes and just commit to listening to your body for that amount of time. When it's done, you're done for now. Take a look at what you wrote down and pray about it. Ask God for a verification: is this a message I should take seriously? And if the answer is yes, the next step is to make a plan for how to serve your body better in the future.
Oh, friends, I wish you the happiest Valentine's day!! I hope this exercise comes in handy and that you listen to the messages your body might have for you today. If you do this exercise, please write me back and let me know how it goes.