Can you ignore your warning light?

What do you respect more: your car or your body? Let’s dive in to discover the truth.

Can you ignore your warning light?

Picture yourself driving a car on an almost empty tank; you’re in a hurry and you don’t have time to get gas. This situation that we all know too well. Then the ‘low fuel’ light comes on. You are now driving on your reserve fuel.

How many more kilometers or miles can you drive with the warning light on? Depending on the make of your car it’s usually between 50-80 kilometers. So there’s no immediate emergency; you know you can keep going for a bit. But if your destination is more than 50 kilometers away, you don’t want to risk it: you know you have to get some gas. If you disregard this warning that your car is giving you, there will be a ‘hard stop’ when you run out of fuel. You’ll be stranded. You don’t want to run out of gas: it’ll take a lot of extra time and hassle to refuel and you would reach your destination even later than you would have if you had stopped. You know there’s no ‘negotiating’ with you car, so you respect the car’s warning and stop to refuel, no matter how busy you are.

What about our bodies?  What do we do when our body’s ‘warning light’ comes on?

Do we even know what our body’s warning light looks like? Do we recognize the warning signs, when we feel tired or irritated, when we have a headache or can’t concentrate anymore, or when the first signs of a flu present themselves?

When we should be planning a ‘refueling’ stop, we often just grab a coffee, a sweet snack or some painkillers…

When our body’s warning light comes on, there’s no hard stop, like there is for a car. We can always push ourselves just a little bit more.
We think that  getting a good night’s sleep will solve the problem. We’ll take care of it after that deadline. “There’s just no time for it now.”
Sometimes we can indeed ‘overrule’ the tiredness and even the onset of flu with some coffee and pain killers. We just push on and after a while the warning light turns off again, or we just don’t notice it anymore.

But then we might get a migraine, or the flu might really hit us a week later. Our body is trying to tell us something.

What does it take for us to listen? When will we take these warnings seriously?
There are plenty of stories of people ignoring the ‘small’ signs that they should slow down, only to be confronted with a big physical setback later on.

Refueling your body is just like getting gas for your car: it’s required for it to keep functioning. Unfortunately there never seems to be a convenient time to do it.
Because we know there’s no ‘negotiating’ with our cars, we respect our car’s deadline; and we stop to refuel, no matter how busy we are.
Why don’t we respect our bodies and treat our own warning signs in the same way?

Reflection: Get to know your body better

  • How does your body tell you when you are ‘running on reserve’?
  • What symptoms do you recognize when you’ve gone too far?
  • Are there any more subtle ones before that?
  • How can you prevent yourself from ‘running on reserve’ or ‘running on empty’?

Can you ignore your warning light?

Light your fire, without the burnout.
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Light your fire without the burnout