I’m currently reading “Daring Leadership” by Dr. Brene Brown, whose work about courage and vulnerability is something that I truly admire. Having helped many hard working women heal their relationship with food over the past 4 years, I find resonance with many concepts Brene shares.
One of these concepts Brene discusses trust. From personal experience I can recall times times when I opened my heart up to someone only to get hurt. Or if there was something I truly desired and things didn’t go my way, I would feel disappointed. For me and many people, the original “trauma” then perhaps led us to close our hearts to letting others see us as we are and to stop going for our dreams. After all, if you don’t ever want to get hurt in a relationship, then just stop connecting with others or loving, right? Or if you don’t ever want to be disappointed, then just stop trying to build your business/lose weight/write a book, right? It sounds silly writing in this way but in reality, so many of us go through a similar experience where we close our hearts in the face of hurt.
In one of my favorite parts of the book, Brene teaches her daughter about trust in relationships. After a hurtful experience with a peer in class, Brene did not want her daughter to turn to shame, fear, and close off her heart to future relationships. Brene then shared a marble analogy that could help her daughter understand how trust is built. In her daughter’s class, the teacher kept a clear glass jar on her desk. Whenever the class did something positive she put marbles in the jar and whenever they did something negative or were unruly, she would take marbles out. Brene then told her daughter to think of her friends she can trust (“marble people”) in the same way.
“Whenever someone supports you, or is kind to you, or sticks up for you, or honors what you share with them as private, you put marbles in the jar. When people are mean, or disrespectful, or share your secrets, marbles come out.”
I really loved this analogy because it applies not only to friendships but to all relationships, including the one we have with ourselves and our bodies.
So how do you build trust with yourself and your body? The marble analogy also applies. Every decision in support and love for our bodies and selves can be seen as a marble in the jar. Every decision in disrespect or hate for ourselves and our bodies can be seen as a marble taken out.
When we listen to how our body speaks through what is causing it pain vs. pleasure, in that moment we are putting a marble in the jar. If we hear our body is hungry and nourish it with food, that’s a marble in the jar. If we hear our body is cramped and needs to movement and stretching, that’s a marble in the jar.
On the flip side, there can be many times that we ignore our body’s signs and take a marble out of the jar. If we’re starving ourselves because our “diet said so,” we may be taking a marble out of the jar. Anytime we demonize our appetite, hunger, or the way we look, we remove a marble out of the jar. Anytime we drown our negative emotions with food or we push harder past our current exhaustion, we’re removing marbles from the jar.
Looking back, the version of me that struggled with binge eating was in complete distrust of herself and her body. She was driven to achieve out of fear. She found herself overworking, overcommitting, and ignoring her needs for rest and rejuvenation. Food therefore became a way to cope with the stress and feelings of exhaustion and loneliness. Her emotions told her something had to change but because she did not know what to do with those intense feelings, food became the way to drown the feelings out even for a few minutes.
By paying attention to my body, she learned how to eat in a way that supported it. My emotions and energy also pointed her towards what lifestyle & career would work suit her best. (It’s the reason why I’ve become a coach today.)
Trust takes time and is built in the micro-decisions we make each day. If you’re wondering how to begin to this process, here are some suggestions:
Pay attention to how your body speaks to you - Your body sends you very clear messages of what it needs, if only we would pay attention! For example, when you have you pee, it’s very clear and it’s almost a pain sensation in your pelvis that signals it’s time to get up for the bathroom. Hunger is also a very clear signal of a stomach sensation or a grumbling.
What is your body saying right now? Perhaps it’s telling you that you need to stretch and walk around after sitting all day. If so, get up and do that!
Start tuning into your feelings & emotions - Emotions and feelings are the language of the body. Some people fear that if they tune into their feelings and emotions, they’ll get soft and fall apart. While the key here isn’t that your feelings and emotions run your life, if you’re not paying attention to them, you’re missing out on a valuable information system. Sometimes before the clear thought or explanation comes, our emotions can signal what is truly right for us or wrong for us. At the end of the day, we all want to be happy - so why not tune into what lights you up?
Examine your internal and external dialogue towards your body as well as your beliefs about your body - Do you find yourself berating your body? Or are you celebrating all that it does for you to keep you alive and well?
One belief that helped me to rebuild trust in my body is reclaiming the belief that my body is infinitely wise and intelligent. Wellness is my body’s natural state. I began to look for evidence of this belief. If I got a cut or scrape, my body is already designed to work towards healing. Or if I tune into hunger, my body is already designed to tell me what it needs.. If I “get out of the way” by listening and supporting my body, it works towards wellness effortlessly.
Trust takes time to build in all relationships, including the relationship you have with yourself. What choice can you make today to put a marble in your own jar of self-trust? Please comment and share below so we can all benefit from your insights!
Stay well, eat well, and savor all that life has to give you to because life is simply too short not to!