Quick question, friends…do you tend to live primarily from your head or your heart?
By this I mean…when making decisions and going about your day, do you let your head lead or your heart lead?
If you’re still scratching your head wondering what the hell I’m talking about, let me break that down further…do you lean toward thinking things through and then deciding or letting your gut or intuition guide you?
Most people let their heads do the work of leading them through their lives. They rarely, if ever, check in with how things make them feel and go with that as the foundation of their decisions. If they do happen to feel something, they doubt it, distrust it, and typically ignore it.
If this sounds familiar to you, then today’s topic is just for you!
Being in Our Heads
Society, as a whole, is pretty disconnected with themselves. Most of us spend the majority of our time in our heads and we’re not allowing ourselves to really feel things in our body.
We’re so in our heads that we’re practically cut off from everything below our neck. We’re like Nearly Headless Nick (from Harry Potter for those of you not equally obsessed with all things HP!)…our heads are just hanging on by a thread.
We follow shoulds and shouldn’ts and we ignore our true path because we worry too much about what others might think or we can’t necessarily see the outcome.
Our brains tell us that anything off the beaten path or unknown is scary and scary is bad.
When we are in our heads too much, we’re living a half life.
Characteristics of a Cerebral Existence
Let’s talk a little bit about the characteristics of living too much in your head…I like to call this a Cerebral Existence.
On the rare occasion where feelings are noticed, there’s typically doubt, insecurity, or distrust on whether following your feelings is the right path (and typically, they end up being ignored because the chatter in the head is so loud and strong).
The problem with living a Cerebral Existence is that it keeps you out of touch with what you really want or need to do. It relies solely on logic which isn’t always reliable. Your decisions are clouded with shoulds, judgement, and other motives.
It typically involves lots of rationalizing, i.e. “This may not be exactly what I want to do, but it makes the most sense and besides, I know what I need to do and what will happen."
Our Inner Bully…that voice that likes to point out all of our flaws (whether real or not!) plays a heavy hand in a Cerebral Existence.
This, by the way, was me for YEARS. I know this mindset well because I lived it for the majority of my life.
But, I think this is typical because it’s what we’re taught growing up. School, while a wonderful tool for educating us, teaches us to live in our heads and to think, think, think, think. It’s a hard cycle to break, but to live a truly whole existence where your deep desires, beliefs, and values are honored, you have to get into your body more.
Characteristics of a Whole Body Existence
When we start to move out of a Cerebral Existence, we mend the disconnect between our mind and body. The gap that exists between the two spaces starts to narrow and there’s more of an open communication with your whole body, which is why I call it a Whole Body Experience.
We’ll never be completely out of our heads and that isn’t even what I’m suggesting. We need our brains and we need logic in our lives.
We turn down the volume of the Inner Bully and we turn up the volume of our Intuition (which I like to call our Inner Mama).
When you are living a Whole Body Existence, decisions are made based on how it feels in the body. This comes from your intuition or more commonly known as a gut feeling.
Deep inside, we know what’s right and wrong for ourselves and when we learn how both of those sensations feel within ourselves, we allow ourselves to make better decisions for our lives.
Our intuition has a much stronger reliability factor than our logical brains. When you learn to trust it, you’ll see it’s generally the right choice.
Your gut instinct may, on some occasions, be in conflict with that logical side of our heads, but once you start to see how accurate your gut is, you’ll start to trust it and go with it despite the screams of your Inner Bully.
When you follow your instincts and trust what your body is telling you, you will feel an inner peace and an overall sense of calmness. There may still be fear around the decision and you may even wonder if you are doing the right thing (but again, that’s the head trying to get in the way), but ultimately, you’ll know it’s right and you’ll trust it.
This is me now. I’ve worked really hard to get out of my head because I could see it wasn’t serving me. Now, I pay attention to how I feel and I always use this when making big decisions. When something is the right choice, I instantly feel it and just know it. As a result, I feel so much more confidence in myself, I know myself better, and I completely trust myself and what my gut tells me.
Why it’s Important to Connect with Your Body
I've already highlighted the main benefits to connecting with your body and using that in your decision making throughout this post, but to sum it up, let’s take a look at the benefits to living a Whole Body Existence.
- Better decisions: Once you trust your gut and feel what your body is telling you, I promise you, you will make better decisions for your life.
- Honor your Core Values: When you make decisions based on your intuition/gut, your choices will be in line with your core values (even if you aren’t aware of what your values are!).
- Your Intuition is Wiser: You may be the smartest person in the world and hold degrees from prestigious institutions, but your intuition and gut are so much wiser than anything you’ve got crammed in that smarty-pants mind of yours! Trust it!
- It cuts out the crap: The Inner Bully is loud and it likes to cut you down and keep you in your place. Going with your gut shuts up the Inner Bully, gets rid of the crazy rationalizations, and drops the shoulds/shouldn’ts.
- Stronger Connection with Yourself: When you start getting in touch with how your body feels, it allows you to strengthen your connection with yourself. This can help you in SO many phases of life. It becomes your inner compass and guiding light.
- You’re in Charge: Instead of your Inner Bully making decisions for you, or fear holding you back, you become more in control of your life. You’re running the show and calling the shots. It’s your life, your stage, your experience.
Tips for Getting More into Your Body
Because so many of us have been cut off from our bodies for most of our lives, it can be challenging to start the process of reconnecting with our whole body.
It doesn’t happen over night. It takes an intentional focus and work to start opening yourself to the sensations of your body and what that's telling you. Sometimes you hear it and get it, other times you won't. But, that's okay! Every time you miss it, you learn a little bit more about yourself.
It takes jumping off the ledge and trusting that your parachute will open (and just in case the metaphor isn’t clear…the parachute is your gut/intuition).
The Inner Bully that likes to keep you in check and playing it safe will NOT be happy about this and will likely start to get really noisy, really fast.
It’s like getting unwanted advice from your Aunt Bertha (no offense to any Aunt Berthas out there!). You hear her and you know it’s coming from a good place, but you also know her advice isn’t exactly the best advice for you.
When you are faced with a big decision, or you’re at a crossroad, give a few of these tips a try...
If you’ve been reading my website for any length of time, you’ll know I’m a big fan of journaling. Writing it out by hand unleashes magic in our minds and the more we write, the more we are able to see clearly.
Meditation is such a great way to start connecting with your body, noticing your how your body is feeling, and getting into the habit of noticing thoughts and letting them pass by without giving them any energy.
Evaluate each option of your decision
I read about this exercise in Untame Yourself by Elizabeth Dialto and loved it, so I’m passing it along to you as a way to start checking in with yourself when faced with a big decision. If you can’t decide which fork to take in the road, think of both options, then try to following quick exercise:
Use a Yes statement
In your mind, or better yet out loud, say that you are going to do whatever it is you’re considering. For example, if you can’t decide if you should move across the country for an amazing job opportunity, you’d say "I am going to uproot myself and move across the country to take advantage of this dream job opportunity."
After saying that out loud, close your eyes and just scan your body. How does feel? Is there a new tension creeping into your shoulders, is your stomach feeling queasy? Or, perhaps you feel some peace, a tingle of excitement, a quickening of your breath, and the beginnings of a smile spread across your face. Don’t judge what’s happening, just notice it.
Use a No Statement
Regardless of how you felt with the Yes statement, now, do the opposite. Tell yourself (or again, best to say it out loud), that you are not going to do whatever it is you’re considering. For example, “I am not going to move across the country despite the amazing job opportunity. I am going to stay here."
Again, close your eyes, scan your body and just notice the sensations that are occurring.
Now that you’ve said both options and patiently scanned your body…which one felt right?
Maybe one statement brought on the tension, queasiness, and unease, but the other felt like a breath of fresh air. These are clues as to what your intuition, your gut, wants you to do. It may be in direct conflict with what the logical part of your mind is saying and definitely with what your Inner Bully is saying, but if you go with the one that feels right, you’re going to be on the right path.
But, what if neither necessarily feels right? It may not be time to make a decision and you don’t have enough information yet, or you’re just not there yet. Table it and do this exercise again a few weeks or months later. You will know when you have an answer.
Over time, you will start to recognize how a Yes feels in your body and how a No feels and you may not even need to do the body scans at some point…you’ll just know.
To put it simply, getting out of your head and into your body gives you power. When you make decisions from your gut or your heart, you will know it's the right choice and you will start to align your life on the path you need to travel.
You may not always like the choice, but you’ll feel a sense of peace that you made the right call and over time, you’ll develop a strong relationship with yourself and your trust in your own decisions will grow.
The biggest gift from learning to listen to your intuition and living a Whole Body Existence is that you will know you can trust yourself.