IBS: Are you doing this too? Bracing yourself – with food, with people, with family and social situations?
I recently took a plane. And in the middle of the safety instructions, they said that if we heard “Brace, brace, brace” we should protect our head and brace ourselves.
They didn’t say why – but it was implicit that it would be in the event of something bad happening!
As I was considering the word “brace” (it’s the coach in me!) I realized that I had actually been bracing myself for most of my life:
- In various situations as a child and teenager where life felt contrived and heavy
- In work situations when I felt under pressure
- During childbirth (those lovely babies had to come out!)
- With IBS and food intolerance
- With multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) every time I went out
Although part of me had put my best foot forward, I had unconsciously expected the need to protect myself at the same time.
When we brace ourselves, we have very good reasons for doing this.
We can spend a great deal of time and energy trying to control everything as best we can – to avoid the worst from happening.
The problem is that it’s like trying to drive with the handbrake on.
It’s really difficult to really contribute and enjoy life when you’re bracing yourself. And when you have IBS.
Avoidance works – to a point
Instead of bracing myself, one of my strategies for dealing with “difficult” situations was avoidance. And doing this brought me a great deal of relief – at first.
With IBS I avoided social situations avoiding any food or drink. [You can probably relate!]
Especially at work, where the conversation itself about results and management was a trigger in itself.
I also avoided the foods that I had trouble digesting. The problem with that is that the list became smaller and smaller over time as my body became more reactive.
With chemical sensitivity, I had to avoid products in my home, as well as toilets that had air fresheners in – and run past wet paint or perfume as fast as I could holding my breath!
While avoidance can be a really smart temporary measure wherever you feel the need to brace yourself, it progressively becomes limiting.
To the point that you find yourself backing into a corner.
So avoidance, or managing symptoms, has it’s uses – and it’s limits.
IBS: Are you doing this too?
A useful question to ponder with your IBS is: Are you in the habit of bracing yourself? And when?
Whatever the answers that pop up, know that you have good reasons for bracing yourself.
So it’s OK. (There are a lot of us in the same boat!)
But now I have mentioned this, maybe you will start noticing them more in your everyday life.
You have had life experiences that have left you with bracing as a coping strategy.
If you start noticing them you will be a step closer to unravelling your IBS.
Because it is likely that the same ones are triggering your IBS symptoms.4