Interoception is (Almost) Everywhere!

Hi everyone. Kelly Mahler, occupational therapist. I’ve been talking with a couple of my friends about something, and it’s the fact that interoception is everywhere. It is so influential on so many aspects of our lives. It’s involved in many more tasks than I ever even considered.

Something my friends and I have been discussing is that we have all been finding interoception helping us in many different ways, some really big ways. For example, noticing a big discomfort in our body, which helps gives us information about what we need to do to take care of our body. Something like noticing a feeling of hunger and knowing that our body needs food.

Interoception may even be present right down to some of the littler tasks. For example, I was going on a day trip and it was a super sunny day and I knew that I was going to need some sunglasses. So, my family and I have a bin of sunglasses, and I was going through my bin and I was trying on all different sunglasses and noticing the way that they made different parts of my body feel. For one pair of sunglasses, I noticed that the little nose piece, they’re wiggly plastic pieces, it was making my nose feel really pinched. I did not like that feeling. So those sunglasses were out. Then I accidentally put on this very fancy pair of sunglasses. These are my daughter’s sunglasses, and they felt a little too small. They made my head feel sore. The little arms were a little too tight on my head. So this pair was out, even though I really loved the level of tint they had. That made my eyeballs feel really comfortable in the sunshine.

Then I tried on another pair of sunglasses and these were too loose and they were brushing on the back of my ears and making my ears feel really sore. So that pair was out. Then, finally, I put on the last pair of sunglasses and they were the winners. They made my eyeballs feel really comfortable when I looked out into the sunshine. They were really comfortable around my nose, my head, my ears. But I was using interoception and noticing the different ways these sunglasses made my body feel in order to pick the best match, the match that made my body feel most comfortable.

Something I’ve never thought about before is that even deciding on the proper pair of sunglasses for the day involves a lot of interoception. Interoception doesn’t always come easy to me; for example checking in with my body, figuring out what my body is telling me. It’s been a very long journey in noticing and discovering my own unique interoceptive experience.

I invite you to share things that you might have learned along your own interoception journey. Where do you see interoception, or rather, where do you feel interoception helping you navigate your daily life?

Until next time.