You need to get good at calling yourself on your shit. No one is going to do it for you. That is not my job. (Unless you would like to pay me good money to call you on your shit. Then, call me. And call me your Shit Caller-er!) Your body is DESIGNED to do that for you! Your body is always sending you signals. Your body is continually saying, “Listen to me! I know what you need to do.”
I'm not the body whisperer. Far from it. In fact, I'm a master at not listening to the signals that my body regularly sends me. While writing this post, I remember being in a ballet class, and my teacher talked about doing a switch leap in an upcoming performance. Someone asked what a switch leap was. Without warming up, I decided to show them. Well, I did a switch leap, and I felt something twinge in my lower back. It was not a regular twinge. But, like the proper German in me who already paid for the class and thus was going to take the course, I powered through the entire 90-minute ballet class. You already know where this is going.
By the time I got to my car later, I could barely move my body. By the time I got home, I could hardly walk. By the time I got to bed, I felt my back going to Funky Town. By the time I woke up from the bed, it had hurt to do anything.
Who knew that such a little thing would have such a significant impact? I did. And that was the problem. I knew what I did. I knew that I should have just left the class right away and rested. I knew that the last thing my body needed was to keep pushing through. I knew that the last thing my body needed was to dance through 90 minutes of rigorous ballet. I knew that the last thing my body needed was to dance as nothing had even happened. I still warmed up the same, stepped the same, jumped the same, and relied on my endorphins the same. But I knew that it wasn’t the same. Yes, $15 for a ballet class is pricey for me. But it took me three months of chiropractic work, acupuncture work, and physical therapy to get back to my old self. Bless our insurance and the fact that I had more off time in summer to do my healing and therapy work. I probably would not be walking the same today without those factors. I definitely would not be dancing.
There is such a stubborn part of me that prides itself in overextending itself. That stubborn part uses a lot of "they" and "them."
They wouldn’t be able to do this, but I can do anything. They probably would have given up by now, but I can push through. They always rest. I am superhuman! I was not checking in with myself in the least. In fact, when my body was screaming out in pain, I did the opposite of listening. I went straight to Denial Mode. I denied what my body was telling me. I said to myself that it wasn’t so bad. I told myself that I could push through the pain. I said to myself that my body had to know who was the boss. Guess who the boss was? Reality. The reality was that my body was hurt. The truth was that my body needed to stop and recalibrate. The fact was that my body needed a huge hug and lots of rest, not a grand battement and lots of pique turns.
Checking yourself means checking with what reality is showing to you. Checking yourself means realizing and listening to what truth is sharing with you. Revelation is always talking to you. Sometimes reality whispers. Sometimes reality screams. Do everything you can do to still pay attention to it and do something with it.
When we resist reality, we choose to suffer. When we oppose the truth, we prefer to think that we are superhuman and capable of anything. You are capable. But capable of anything at any time of the day under any circumstances is pure hilarity. I am laughing as I write this paragraph because it is pure me. I am that guy who chooses to suffer to do anything at any time under any circumstance and then hides the reality that he is experiencing. It’s an endless cycle of overextension that ends in my body, brain, heart, soul, and hope to break down and burning out. A badass changemaker needs their body, mind, heart, soul, and hopes to be a badass. A badass changemaker checks in with them not daily but all the time. A badass changemaker is present now in whatever reality is happening.
Imagine what would have happened if I went home right away before the ballet class started. Reality is that I would have lost $15. Truth also is that I would have had an early dinner with my husband. Reality is that my back injury would have been minor. The fact is that I would have had extra rest time. Reality is that I would have relaxed and been practicing what I preach. Not only that! The truth is that I was already hurting long before the ballet class. Reality is that I was already pushing through the pain. The fact is that I was already not using my summer to rest but to continue pushing my body, brain, heart, and soul and that I was hoping to be okay with that. Reality had another plan. Truth knew that I wouldn’t slow down if it didn’t teach me a lesson.
Well, I am starting to listen to reality.
I am starting to pay attention to what my body is telling me. First, I am in my 30’s. (Ahem, late 30's!) My body needs more warm-up and rest time. My body needs more self-care and self-love. Second, I am not superhuman and never will be. When I try to do superhuman things I am on a one-way path to burnout. Finally, I learned that I love to rest. When I was limited to what I could do, I did so much less, and it felt so good. Less is more. Quality over quantity. All that shit that you know is true. I am starting to listen to the truth of reality. And my life is entirely different because of it. I feel stronger. I am not getting to fall break or spring break feeling and looking like a hot mess. I am feeling like me. I feel that I can be present. When you’re burning out, you can never be present.
What is your body telling you right now? What messages is your heart sending you? What gifts is your soul leaving for you to pay attention to? Don’t do me. Don’t do what I did. Don’t avoid and deny what you hear loud and clear. Don’t tell yourself fucking white lies. They are still lies. You are not a liar. Don’t lie to yourself. The simple life rule of “Be Kind” applies extra to yourself. When you are kind to yourself, you won’t even think of overextending yourself. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.