Some days, it’s hard to believe we’ve been helping people show up in a radically different way with themselves for over thirteen years. Our offerings have morphed, grown, and changed so much over time. We’ve held weekend Body Trust workshops and retreats. We’ve developed online courses for people healing their relationships with food and body and trainings for professionals wanting to bring a weight-inclusive, trauma-informed approach to their work. We’re now in the third year of facilitating our six-month Body Trust Provider Certification training for helping professionals looking to change the dominant culture. We’ve given lots of talks and trainings about our Body Trust approach to food, weight, and health. We’ve helped thousands of people let go of their preoccupation with food and weight, and develop the resilience needed to live compassionately in a weight-biased world. We’ve learned so much from you along the way.
Years ago, we discovered that body trust is the beating heart of this work. To heal our relationship with the body, we reclaim body trust. It is your birthright! You were literally born with it. Well meaning parents, the medical establishment, a toxic culture, dieting behaviors, trauma, and social constructs of gender, race, beauty, health and weight are just some of the things that make us less trusting of our bodies as we age.
We end up turning away from our bodies.
We walk around like floating heads in the world—completely cut off from our body—disconnected from the inherent wisdom that is always available to us. All we have to do is listen.
Because the body knows before we know. Feelings are messengers. Hunger cues are messengers. Physical pain is a messenger. Illness is a messenger. And you know what they say: don’t shoot the messenger! In her book The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd wrote,
“The body knows things a long time before the mind catches up to them. I was wondering what my body knew that I didn’t.”
The kind of transformation we talk about doesn’t just happen in the head. To regain the trust that is your birthright, start by turning towards your body and listening with kindness and curiosity.
Healing is a process, not an event. Regaining body trust when it has been lost takes time and is not all that different from how we rebuild trust in any other relationship.
It requires open communication between you and your body: checking in regularly, acknowledging what is needed, and acting accordingly. And something important to remember is that this trust is reciprocal. If you don’t trust your body, your body doesn’t trust you. For example, when people are restricting, our body doesn’t know that we are choosing not to eat when we feel hungry. It thinks food isn’t available and doesn’t trust that it will get enough to eat. So when food finally becomes available, people often overeat because our body is just trying to get its needs met. But over time, with consistent practice and a variety of meaningful experiences, the relationship heals and eating normalizes.
John Gottman’s research (2015) on approaches to relationships shows that attunement and small consistent acts over time reintroduce trust, not conditional acts or large-scale gestures. We often begin exploring the concept of rebuilding trust by asking people this question: If you lost trust in another relationship in your life, what would you need in place to rebuild it? Years ago, we asked our facebook community about this, and here are are some of our favorite responses:
- Time and love, LOTS of love
- If there is no love, you wouldn’t even want to try
- Transparency, a willingness to be vulnerable, and clear (and realistic) expectations paired with ongoing communication
- An awareness that trust was broken in the first place
- A willingness to surrender to what the journey brings along the way
- Connecting to something bigger than what was broken and focusing your energy and efforts on that
- Remembering that there is a deeper learning happening inside
- Faith in the process; believing in ourselves
- Releasing fear and choosing love, over and over again
Unfortunately, the magic happens outside of our comfort zone. The good news is there is so much more to be gained from trusting than not trusting. And when we get really honest with ourselves, what really feels more vulnerable—trusting or not trusting?
Imagine what might happen if you got together with your friends and talked about trusting your body instead of fixing it?