I was having an interesting conversation with a neighbor recently, and she shared how fear was keeping her from doing something she really wanted to do.
Naturally, I was curious and asked where she felt the fear in her body.
“I don't feel it anywhere,” she responded.
Then I was REALLY curious and asked her, “Then how do you know you're afraid?"
She was stumped, and it prompted reflection on whether it was actually fear keeping her stuck or something else entirely.
This is precisely why listening to our bodies is so important - they offer us a tremendous amount of wisdom. But in American culture there's not a lot of value placed on paying attention to the sensations we feel in our body and so we're completely out of tune with it.
In fact, by the time we're adults we've decided it's better not to feel, so we expend a tremendous amount of energy suppressing feelings.
But you should know that much of the time it's your body calling the shots on your behavior, not your brain.
In fact, the largest nerve in your body, the vagus nerve, stems throughout your abdomen, up your neck, across your face and into your brain, and 80% of the signal traffic is going from your body to your brain, not the other way around.
Your body sends out signals, and using past experience, your brain makes sense of what the body is feeling. Think about it in your own life…In the moment, how do you determine whether:
You've done enough to prepare for the meeting with executives.
It's a good idea to push back on your boss' request.
You should tell your friend that she hurt your feelings or just let it go.
It starts as a feeling in your body! Then emotions come into play, and finally your cognition catches up to provide a meaning for everything.
The body keeps the score, as the book says: the stomachache is saying keep preparing, the tight chest is saying it's dangerous to say no to your boss, and the shoulder tension is saying be quiet because there's a chance you'll be misunderstood.
You wouldn't believe the awareness that has been unlocked by my clients through simply noticing what they feel in their bodies. I invite you to try the ideas below to do your own exploration.
Next time you're feeling big feels, turn toward how you're feeling instead of trying to conquer it and:
Place a hand on the area of your body where you feel the sensation.
Notice what you can about the sensation (e.g., is it expanding or contracting, what's the temperature, etc.).
Reflect on whether it is a familiar sensation. If so, what are some other situations in which you recall feeling the same way?
If you want to talk more about how my coaching can help you better understand who you are, why you are who you are, and how you can get unstuck and start living the life you long for, let's chat. Grab time here or simply hit reply!