Updated: Aug 7
I just started a discussion about the subtle body and I thought it was time for me to share more about how I became aware of my own subtle body and learnt to understand its language.
In 2014, I had a burn out. I realised only recently that, what I went through is called a burn-out. When it happened to me, I just thought I was going through a rough patch. At the time, I was working for a Big 4 in Paris and was happily married. I got approached by someone from my professional network for an exciting job opportunity in a pharmaceutical company. I was happy in my job, loved my team but I felt like there was no opportunity for me to grow my career any further in this firm. Therefore, I decided to go for the interview and see what the universe had in store for me…
I got the new job and the first few weeks were quite interesting. I love challenges, so I was in the peak phase where I thought I could change the world (yeah, that’s how excited I can be #optimistproblems).
I was looking forward to this opportunity even though it was a 9-month contract. I thought, fuck it, let’s give it a go. I’m young, no kids, happily married (at the time...), ready for a new adventure!
After a few weeks, I realised the job was not what had been advertised, however, this was not the major issue… My manager was a narcissist. He made one of my colleagues cry every single day. He started giving me s*** and I was doing my best to manage it. Swallowing it. Thinking: “No job is perfect, and I need this job.” I always thought I had to be a tough cookie. That everything comes with a price. So I put my head down and kept trying to do my best, to walk through the storm.
I started the new job in February, by the end of June I was knackered. I didn’t know my left from my right. I was in so much mental pain, that I could not do my job anymore. And as misery loves company, my marriage was sinking down too. I had it all at the same time. Proper s*** storm.
As both my professional and personal lives were not making me happy, I felt like I needed a radical change. I had been approached by a head hunter regularly since I started working in my area but never followed-up on the offers he sent me. I decided to contact him and give it a go. Thank God! I found a new job, threw away the life I had in Paris and moved to the Birmingham.
I was a mess. I was crying every night. Whenever my new manager wanted to see me I was flipping the hell out: my hands were sweating and my brain was going through the worse scenarios. In this new job I realised how working with a narcissist actually left scars that I was not consciously aware of. I was having anxiety issues when called into a one to one meeting.
I started to have eczema, for the first time ever. I’d never had any skin issues. My doctor told me it was stress. I was like “What the fuck you on about?! I’m not stressed. I have no reason to be stressed!”. Despite all the issues that were going on in my life, I still thought that I had my shit together. I was in complete denial of any mental health issue.
Nevertheless, this eczema thing was really scaring me. It was on my hands. I had little bubbles of water popping up. My fingers were swollen. It was itchy AF, so much so that I could not resist but scratch them until they were bleeding. I could barely look at my hands. I was disgusted by them.
At the time, I was so much in distress that I was constantly criticizing myself. I had so many voices in my head putting me down. Telling me I’ve made the wrong choice, why was I leaving my husband? What the fuck was I doing in a city where I knew no one? etc. I was my worst enemy.
One day, my neighbour tells me that she’s going to yoga, asks me whether I want to join. So, I went and for 90 minutes. No voices. No critique in my head. I was too busy trying to understand the teacher as English is not my first language (I’m French) and trying to morph my body into the shapes he was describing (yeah one of those, no demo teacher). Needless to say: I loved it. No idea what he was talking about but this thing was directing my attention somewhere else. It was giving me a break from the stuff that kept going on and on in my head.
After a few weeks of yoga, my eczema eventually stopped. And this shit just blew my mind. I mean literally. The meds did not work, but breathing, chanting, focusing on something else for less than 2 hours a day healed my eczema. I started loving my hands again. I was not afraid of touching my friends, I did not have to scratch them anymore. It was such a relief. It was like I found myself again.
Signs of resolution
After this first episode of eczema, whenever I had a big stress, I could see the bubbles forming again under my skin. I would talk to myself, reassure myself and it would go away. I would give myself love and compassion and it would go away. I could not explain it, but I did not care, I had discovered this connection. My hands were indicating when I was NOT OK. So, I would pay attention, trying to think about what was going on in my life at the time that could create the bubbles again.
A few years later my mum found this dictionary, written by a Canadian coach, Jacques Martel which explains the link between what is happening in your mind and how it manifests itself in your body. So far, I could not find an English translation of this book but let me put the definition of both “hands” and the part where he talks about “bleeding hands” in google translation:
"The hands represent my ability to take, give or receive. They are the intimate expression of myself in the Universe and the power of touch is so great that I feel helpless when my hands are damaged. They have a unique character: just like my fingerprints, they represent my past, my present and my future. I have in my hands the situations of my daily life and the state of my hands shows me how much I understand my reality, how I express love as well as hate. If, moreover, my hands bleed (e.g. dry hands, eczema, etc.), there is surely a situation in my life, a dream, a project that I feel I cannot achieve and that brings me to live with sadness. So, the joy of living goes away."
Now let’s go back to the dictionary and translate the definition of eczema:
"Eczema is a skin condition with red areas that can appear in both adults and children. I am a hypersensitive person. I did not learn to love myself and, as I fear being hurt, I live a lot depending on what others expect of me. I'm afraid of being abandoned. If I have eczema, I have already experienced a very intense separation situation. (…) Eczema "touching" the skin, what I miss, even unconsciously, is the contact, the touch of the person before the separation, that I have now lost or that I have only rarely. It is therefore my skin that made contact with the other and this contact having been removed, my skin expresses its need to be touched in the form of eczema. This leads me to isolate myself, to withdraw and to depreciate myself. I forget myself constantly to the detriment of others. I give a lot of importance to what people can think of me or how they perceive me. (…) Even as I try to please everyone, I fail to take into consideration my own needs (…)."
Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash
I was shook when mum told me about this dictionary which contained incredible information; and from my experience accurate information too about how my state of mind could manifest a dis-ease in my body. The above description is exactly how I felt at the time. I kept changing my mind so much depending on what people thought about me that I had to write my own thoughts down. I had to see a therapist to manage my struggle with dealing with people’s opinions about my life. I could not detach myself from their opinion. I was giving it power over my life. People are keen to share their opinions and sometimes we tend to internalize it as facts depending on how self-confident we feel. Therapy and self-development books really helped me with distinguishing my opinions from others.
Today, 4 years later, I have developed a relationship with my body. I know that when my throat hurts for no apparent reason like a cold or something, that I have something to say to someone. I know that I haven’t cried when I should have, when a stye appears in my eye. My throat stops hurting after I said what I had to say and my stye disappears after I cry my sadness out. For some things, I don’t need the dictionary anymore because my intuition tells me.
Since I started listening to the language of my body, my intuition has improved. I get more messages. I am more connected to myself.
I strongly believe that my body talks to me. I strongly believe that the mind uses the body to send us messages. Tell us how we really feel and help us to connect with our very own self for our very own well-being.
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
Do you have that kind of connection with your body?
If you do have it, would you mind sharing how you discovered it?
If you do not have it, would you like to have it? Do you want to discuss any obstacles that could be preventing you from enjoying this relationship?
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Sawubonasana is a space where you can be yourself, recognized and loved just the way you are. Sawubona means "I see you and by seeing you I bring you into being", Asana means posture, way of living. I've chosen this name for my website because I want to live a life where I see you, I acknowledge your existence and love your uniqueness. In this space you can love yourself, lick your wounds and heal them with love and compassion. You can book a coaching session with me by clicking here.