Have you ever felt like you try and try to fix something and nothing you do works? It gets discouraging, and it’s easy to want to give up. Sometimes this happens because we’re trying to fix the wrong thing. For example, say your car won’t run because it’s out of gas. If you don’t know that’s the problem, you might replace the battery. When that doesn’t work, you replace the starter. Your actions get more and more drastic, and you finally give up because it feels like no matter what you do, the car still sits there not running. But all it needs is some fuel.
The same thing can happen when it comes to healing from childhood sexual abuse. You’ve possibly tried all kinds of things to heal and nothing seems to work as well as you want it to. Understandably, you get frustrated and might feel like giving up. But maybe you just need to shift where you focus your healing efforts a little. One thing you can try is paying attention to your body and the messages it’s sending you. Survivors often take care of their minds but neglect their bodies, and their bodies are an important part of the healing process. Here are three reasons that paying attention to your body is important.
- A strong connection to your body will help you stay in the present. Being in the present plays an important role in healing, especially with talk therapy. As Bessel van der Kolk teaches in The Body Keeps the Score, “people need to be grounded in the present before they can start to deal with things in the past,” and you can use your body to help yourself stay grounded.
- Having control of your body helps give you control of your life. Sexual abuse survivors are often scared to feel things. They spend time trying to numb emotions and physical sensations. The reality is that the more you understand and experience your body, the more power you have to make decisions: “Agency starts with . . . our awareness of our subtle sensory, body-based feelings: the greater that awareness, the greater our potential to control our lives.”
- What happens in the body impacts the brain. Our brains and our bodies are inseparably linked. When we heal from trauma, we typically focus on the brain. We also need to see “the body as the vehicle for change.” In Body Kindness, Rebecca Scritchfield says, “You’ll receive a powerful emotional boost each time you connect to your body and make a choice that is more caring and helpful in the moment.”
Spend some time thinking about how you can take care of your physical health. Like a car that needs its gas tank filled, maybe your body just needs some fuel to help you move to the next level of healing.
 Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score, p. 70.
 Same as above, p. 97.
 Peg Duros and Dee Crowley, “The Body Comes to Therapy Too,” Clinical Social Work Journal, Vol. 42 (2014), p. 237.
 Rebecca Scritchfield, Body Kindness, p. 25.