Your body talks...it’s time to listen
I live in a body. Yup. I have one. So do you. And for many, many years, I took it for granted, using it mainly as a vehicle to move from point a to point b. I lived in my head, my thoughts were True (with a capital T), and all the emotions, energy and wisdom coursing through my veins were ignored, dialed down, or dismissed as noise. They were a bother; nothing to pay attention to. In fact, people around me highly encouraged me not to show any of it, talk about it, or respond to it. Have you received the same kind of “advice?”
That doesn’t belong in the workplace.
Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.
You’re too much.
You should excuse yourself.
I can’t believe you’re acting this way.
Pull yourself together.
After years of practicing those behaviours, I became quite masterful at pushing it all down and blocking it out. The time, energy, and resources it took for me to push it all down exhausted me. It was tiring because it wasn’t natural. The inner struggle happened every day, all the time. And it wasn’t until I stopped listening to everyone else, and started listening to myself that things shifted for me.
Here’s where I am today. My body is full of wisdom. It knows more than I can ever possibly imagine. When there’s a tightness in my throat, I know I’m holding something back - there’s a missing conversation somewhere. When I’m distracted, putting both my feet on the floor helps me settle and be present. When I’m procrastinating, I get up and sweep my floor or run up and down the stairs to shift my energy. When I return to my desk, I’m able to reprioritize where I need to spend my time. When there’s a pit in my stomach, I pay attention to the subtle cues of taking on too much; committing to something I may not want to. These are small cues my body gives me that tells me it is oh so wise.
My emotions are all data points - more delicious wisdom from my body, helping me understand what’s going on for me. In this wisdom, there are no good or bad emotions; they’re not right or wrong. All have a purpose, and by listening and paying attention, I have greater clarity and insight into what I do next. I can respond with intention versus reaction. Frustration? It challenges me to find a simpler way. Dislike? It tells me what I don’t want (I don’t want liver and onions EVER). Apathy? It helps me save my attention for things I care about. Amazement? It exposes me to extraordinary things.
It’s taken time and practice to get where I am today. And let me be clear, there are still times when I completely forget all this wisdom is available to me and I react. It’s usually then that my 80’s playlist gets cranked, and I clean, in my bare feet. There’s intention here - I know I need time to allow my emotions to settle, I don’t want to say things that I will regret, and by giving myself space and time, and an awesome playlist, I get clear on what is actually going on...what is underneath the hood.
By listening to the wisdom of my body I realize it's rarely about what it was in the heat of the moment. This has guided me for years: if you’re angry about something for more than 10 minutes, you’re not angry about what you think you’re angry about. Read that again. In future musings, I’ll talk about the difference between anger and indignation - also a biggie.
My invitation for you is to start small and pay attention. Start small. Pay attention.
What do you want for breakfast? Not what you SHOULD have, but what do you WANT?
On your walk or run, decide to turn left or right; decide in an instant and go.
Pause during the day and see if you can feel your feet. If you can’t, see if you can.
Notice if your shoulders are up around your ears and if they are, take three big breaths and let them relax.
When was the last time you felt your heart burst with love, pride, joy, excitement? Can you relive that memory and feel it?
Lean more and more into feeling your body and paying attention to those subtle cues encouraging you to listen, take pause, and look for more.