An article by Anke Sommer
What are body signals and what do they have to do with body language?
If you have a cough, you get something to ease it; in other words, you acknowledge the symptom of the cold and react to it. If you don’t, the cough gets worse. Just as the cough makes you aware of its approach through signals – such as a sore throat – before turning into a full-blown cough, illnesses that arise from stress, from a permanently dysfunctional environment and from pressure also draw attention to themselves by signals: your body signals.
Signals you ignore will turn into a symptom.
Symptoms you ignore can end up as illnesses.
In practice: general remarks
You’re caught in a conflict, for example, with your professional colleague. It keeps flaring up and is currently diverting your attention from your work. You’re getting annoyed about it, but that just distracts you even more and the pressure keeps rising. Your colleague doesn’t respond to your request just to leave you in peace for once so that you can at least complete a few urgent tasks.
Imagine that this cycle keeps recurring week after week. Weeks later, you’re still staying late in your office in the evenings because you couldn’t complete your day’s work – again. Pointless discussions with your colleague held you up. Next morning, you’re the first person at work. You don’t even notice that you go red (1st signal) when your colleague enters the room. From now on, you go red like this every time he/she comes into the room.
By now you’ve noticed that you keep going red, but you don’t connect this with your colleague’s presence.
Gradually, you start getting little blisters (reinforced signal) that don’t just look unsightly, as they also leave a feeling of tightness on your skin.
You still haven’t reacted to the signal. Your partner only needs to be near you for your skin to start itching (further signal reinforcement).
Two months later you’re at the dermatologist’s to get a diagnosis and treatment for this phenomenon. You think you’ve got an allergy.
In fact you’re being confronted with a somatic reaction. You’re showing an allergic reaction to the situation you’re in, in the literal sense of the word. You’re reacting to the constant tension and the stress it causes. Your colleague is linked to the atmosphere that builds up in his/her presence. Your level of inner irritation reveals itself externally; your reaction is increasingly testy, as the signal on your skin shows.
Practical experience has shown that signals that are ignored can result in illnesses.
Act on your signals
Everyone’s reactions are different. For some people, it’s the reddening skin that shows they need to take action. For others, it may be noises in their ears, twitching fingers, stomach pains or slight twinges in the abdomen. There is no limit to the range of signals, and they occur according to individual rules. Some signals are an immediate reaction to the trigger while others occur a bit later.
- Develop your awareness of what is happening in and on your body.
- Slow down your activity when you discover signals like these.
- Note that physical signals function contrarily to rationality. Physical signals are not warnings from the moment they appear. First they indicate a reaction to something. Only later, if they are ignored, do they serve as warning hints until the signals become symptoms. Symptoms now react according to the same pattern: first they give a signal, then a warning, then the illness.
- Examine the signals. “What is the signal trying to tell me?” should be your key question.
- Observe how signals like these are linked to events in your environment.
- Protect yourself by introducing actions that distance you.
- If the signal strengthens to a full-blown symptom, go to the doctor.
Acting on your body signals in the right way
My professional experience as a consultant clearly shows that by adopting an inner distance, you can succeed in weakening the signal, but if the problem is on-going you must constantly work on your personal relief by distancing yourself, to avoid producing new signals.
Unravelling the signals prevents the symptom. When you ‘unpack’ the signals, you find out what’s behind them. To do this, you should examine your specific signal; in other words, you make contact with the signal. When you do this you receive messages in the form of flashes of insight and images that show you the information that is stored in the signal.
In most cases, you won’t manage to do this during your daily work, so you need to take a personal decision to act on your signals.
In relation to your body signals, the rule is: the more dysfunctional your environment, the stronger your signals will be. Unpacking the signals will prevent the symptom but won’t protect you from new signals arising due to dysfunction. The signals will only leave you completely when the dysfunction is resolved.
I wish you much enjoyment in examining your signals and understanding and acting on the information you learn from them.