My body made me do it! Move over logic - we're in the age of body-wisdom
Our bodies get a rough deal. For too long, they've been the poor relation to the almighty brain, the source of all wisdom and insight. Our western culture has come to dumb down the importance of trusting your instinct and listening to the intelligence in your body. We see going along with your gut feeling as poorly considered, lacking the logic we seek. Our feelings or senses are dismissed as wishy-washy. We need cold hard facts to back up what we do!
Who wants to be second best?
We want decisions we can articulate to others, in ways that show we've put in the work to arrive at them. We need to show we've considered all the possibilities. We look for certainty.
Why we can't make decisions with conviction
What's funny is that, deep down, we know decisions need to be felt in our bodies, not just made in our heads. Leaders that lead from their knowing space are put on a pedestal. But we tend to see this more a result of the strength of character, bravery, and courage to stand so firm by what they believe is right. It doesn't occur to us that they are probably just a lot more connected with their bodies than us.
Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela aside, us ordinary people are still struggling. I don't know about you, but when I'm trying to commit to big life decisions, the thing that I'm really doing is going through a process of convincing myself that this is a good thing to do. In reality, it's less 'visionary pioneer changing the world', and more of a dodgy car salesperson trying in vain to get you to buy a Skoda. You know it's a quality car on paper, but you are struggling to see yourself driving it and living your best life.
What's funny in those moments is how our bodies refuse to go along with it. With a knowing eye, it's easy to see its attempts at sabotage. There's a battle where our minds want our bodies to play ball and show up with confidence, but our bodies are standing firm, saying no - 'I'm not buying it'. That slightly higher-pitched tone of voice that indicates uncertainty, the giveaways in our body language which suggest we're not entirely sure, the butterflies in your tummy that refuse to give you signals of reassurance.
And that is optimistically assuming we can even get to this point. We have all been in situations where we have thoughts swimming around our brains like they're in a washing machine, all tangled up together making it impossible to get to a confident decision.
For days, weeks, months even, we can oscillate between moments of clarity, distress, and confusion. We find ourselves unable to arrive at a place of certainty, much to the dismay of our friends and family who have heard us going on about this, trying to grapple with it, for far too long.
We are desperate for clarity, but we can't help just going around one more time to check. 'No, wait, but what if?'; 'actually I haven't properly considered this'; 'maybe I should ask so and so how they did it'; 'what if I'm wrong?'.
The power of thinking with your whole body
When watching clients make changes in their careers, I see the challenge of this all the time, and it is hands down the main thing that holds people back, slows them down, and keeps them dreaming small. Whether it's leaving a role to go to a new company, stepping into a change of direction or going out on their own into self-employment or a new venture, it is always the same. The dragon of doubt rears its ugly head and makes risk and uncertainty seem too fearful to get beyond. Can I do it? Am I good enough? How will it work? Who am I to look for something so good?
So, I discovered a thing this year - the power of thinking with your whole body. Last year, I found myself booking a ticket to India and signing up for a month-long yoga course. It was hard to explain, but I just had this strong feeling that what I needed was to be somewhere where I could be in my body. It was a fantastic experience, with this luxuriousness of getting to know my own body, and I came away with an incredible sense of grounding and knowing that I had not felt for many years. I knew this was just the beginning of a journey of discovery.
What a year it has been since! I have been on one long learning experience, consuming everything possible about how we get into that knowing space, how we can consciously step away from our thoughts and into our body intelligence. Advances in science are now shining a light on how we've been running at half speed, ignoring all of the wisdom we could have made available to ourselves.
Creating your own toolkit of skills to read your body will help to support you in life. The body doesn't lie; it isn't guided about the story we've created - it only knows our truth. So, if we are getting in our own way, it's through body-mind work that we'll unearth the blocks and find the path through.
I have had some unexpected epiphanies about my life since starting this journey. Being able to listen to my own body, I have been able to act quickly and with full conviction on things that have been hovering around for a while. I've left a collective that was no longer serving me. I've stopped waiting for the 'right' moment, and instead have decided to jump feet first into a move to Spain in September, and I'm finally acting on my desire to set up retreats, something I've dreamt about for several years. Yes, it's still scary, but I feel with all my being that these are the right things for me, and that counts for so much.
It has been incredible to learn how to turn up the volume on our bodies to see how they can help, along with our minds, guide us through life. Now I'm full of enthusiasm for how the work I'll do with clients to help them make decisions that support change when they feel full of doubt and over-concerned by risk. I know a lot of action will result, and I cannot wait to be on the journey with you.
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