A friend of mine refuses to pee when she really needs to. We’re talking about a bladder on the brink of explosion is flat out ignored. On the reg–even when perfectly clean toilets abound. This odd habit of hers got me thinking about how often we ignore our bodies.
For some of us, this refusal to listen to our bodies is as simple as denying our need for sleep or pretending that we aren’t hungry. Maybe it is thirst that some of us don’t register until we’re gasping for breath as we finish guzzling a 1L bottle of water. This tendency to ignore signals from our own bodies, designed to help us thrive, is frightening but not surprising. In the hectic context of our modern world, when we’re up to our necks in a social(ly) media(ted) world, being pulled in twenty different directions at any given instant (emails, texts, phone calls that excite, stress, disappoint and confuse us almost simultaneously), taking a piss can feel like an inconvenience. But how ridiculous is that? Almost as insane as our justifications for eating “fast” food or chemically altered, “hyper-palatable” food instead of quality (nutrient-dense) food that will more effectively fuel our fast-paced lives.
I’m guilty too. Probably most obvious is my relationship with sugar-free foods. I consume sugar-free-chemically-dense gum and beverages at the expense of my digestive tract on a daily basis-DESPITE the fact that my stomach has pointedly expressed its disgust for the unnatural ingredients in these drinks and candy.
My stomach literally lurches, bubbles and bloats upon the consumption of sugar-free gum and diet soda. Yet, without fail, I subject my poor body to this crap day after day.
Before I tell my friend that she ought to piss when she needs to piss. Maybe I should listen to my own body and stop consuming chemicals that make it perfectly uncomfortable (except for the initial ultra-sweet rush of flavor).
Maybe the hard part about listening to our bodies is that we get mixed messages. The physiological (swollen bladder, bubbling, bloated stomach) often conflicts with the “mental” (prioritizing getting shit done over pissing or craving super sweet foods to fill an undefined emotional void).
The challenge, then, comes down to one word. Respect. In spite of the complicated emotional motives behind much of our self-destructive behavior, I think we ought to challenge ourselves to respect the intricate and delicate mechanisms working together to keep these exquisitely soft and beautiful machines going. So for now, listen carefully. Let me know how it goes for you.