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5 Ways Your Body Misleads You

Updated: Jan 16

We're often told to go with our gut. And many times that means trying to interpret signs our body gives us. Now don't get me wrong, sometimes we get a sense, an instinct about something. The difference though is that sort of signal rarely comes with physical signs. We often mistake physical signs as accurate barometers for decision making. It's important not always to believe, trust, or take direction from these messages.

Here are 5 ways our body often misleads us.

1. Hunger pangs

Hunger pangs are feelings we get in our stomach when it is, supposedly, empty. It is actually a combination of electrochemical and hormonal responses that leads us to crave food. Our brain thinks if we don't eat we are in danger. The problem is, the more we eat, the more we eat. As our stomach expands, there are more receptors and even if your stomach is not completely empty some of the receptors won't get the "full" message and the pangs occur making us thing we need to eat.

2. Butterflies

I know, I'm such a party pooper sometimes. But you've heard it a million times and probably even believe that the person you love will give you butterflies. Well, I've got news for you. Butterflies are part of a fight or flight reaction and simply means that a person who gives you these makes you nervous somehow. And that means your brain detects some sort of danger (not love). Perhaps you are insecure that they will welcome your advances? Or maybe you're insecure that they are “out of your league”? It doesn't matter the reason, when the brain senses danger, often a symptom of it causing you to fight or flee is evacuating extra weight; therefore preparing your belly to evacuate, i.e. defecate.

3. Pain

One of the plagues of westerners is back pain. You may have heard people say, or you may say yourself, “I've got a bad back. I can't exercise because I'll hurt my back.” We learn to fear pain (not only back) because we think it is our body’s way of trying to protect us from harmful movements or activities. The fact is, and research has confirmed this, pain is often our brain’s way of distracting us from painful emotions or stressful life circumstances.

4. Anxiety

There are few things as uncomfortable as anxiety. You know some of the symptoms – heart racing, butterflies (see above), shaky feeling, cloudy thinking. Anxiety always means our brain has detected circumstances that signal danger, threat, or vulnerability; thus causing you to fight or flee. Since in the 21st century, we usually have no real place to flee or no real predator to fight, this reaction causes internal agitation. It is so uncomfortable that we often avoid situations that cause it. Unfortunately, these are the precise situations that might enhance our lives.

5. Arousal

Here I go as a party pooper again. Let's face it, love at first sight is often really lust at first sight and leads many of us into relationships where we constantly strive to regain that initial spark. Certainly, this is an integral part of any relationship, but or Body leads us astray when it becomes the central and defining part of it.


It is important to know your body and its signals, but equally as important to recognize the signals that can mislead you. These five principles can serve as a solid guide to prevent you from veering too far off course.

© Dr. Charles F. Glassman, CoachMD

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