The Body Lies


You will be told to listen to your gut, to let your body decide when enough is enough, whether it be food or exercise or even ill treatment. They seem to believe that the body is an oracle that will deliver unimpeachable advice, the last word you will need.

What you won’t be told is that the body lies.

Your body will tell you that the crippling pain is in your lower back when the injury is up in your neck. It’s called referred pain and it will mislead anyone trying to treat  the pain.

Your body will tell you that your foot is in excruciating agony when your leg has been amputated at the knee and there is no foot there to feel the pain. It’s called having a phantom limb. Not real.

Your stomach will tell you that it needs that carton of brown butter almond brittle ice cream and a spoon to fill your hunger, when, in reality, you are lonely or bored or sad, and what you need is a friend, not a binge.

Your heart will swell and other parts will tingle over a new love, and you may even blow up your happy family to follow this love. Eventually, you will uncover the lie when lust, which was what all the fuss was really about, burns to ashes.

And your gut will tell you not to trust someone when what you are really feeling is the echo of ancient tribalism that warns to mistrust anyone from a different tribe, whether that tribe is a different color from you or a different religion or a different sexual orientation. You will think you know that there is something not right about this person, because your gut tells you so. Your gut is lying. Your gut is an overanxious mother, wrapping you in swaddling and whispering that it is safer to try nothing new, to never leave what you already know.

Your body lies in countless ways, some harmless, some quite harmful.

So, yes, listen to your body. But make its vote count as only an equal partner with your intellect. Because your intellect will lie, too, and tell you that you are smarter than you really are. But somewhere between the two lies, you may find the truth.

Photo by Clara Ngo on

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