The Truth Telling Body

Bessel van der Kolk is a PTSD expert and a internationally renowned expert on trauma.

His book “The Body Keeps The Score” is one of my favorites and his research has impacted my work significantly.

The focus on the body as a “truth teller” and how it never lies is a powerful tool to helps us understand what is going on in our own lives.

Often people don’t recognize how much pain or shame they are in. Most of us are so good at compensating for our hurts or covering them up that we forget it’s even there.

So how do you know if there’s something sitting below the surface that might need to be healed inside of you? Let me give you 2 easy indicators to pay attention to that I discovered at the gym of all places.

I noticed that when I am lifting weights, my body has the tendency to do 2 very distinct things. When I am in pain due to heaviness of the weights and the stress on my muscles I will:

  1. Stop breathing. Hold my breath.

  2. Drop my head and look down.

I am always having to remind myself to NOT do this when exercising. I need to breath and I need to look up for proper form.

I believe these 2 indicators are not only true of pain that is felt in the gym but pain that is felt in our lives. We stop breathing properly and we drop our head.

We will typically do “survival breathing” (shallow, tight, fast breathing) instead of deep, full breaths. Our body posture will often slump, slouch and our head will be down. More commonly, in terms of looking down, we will fail to look at people in the eye. These are signs of your body “telling the truth” that you are in emotional pain.

So pay attention to your breathing. Pay attention to your posture and your head dropping. If it’s happening, it might be time to do something about the stuff that’s hurting inside.

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