3 Ways Your Body Can Help You Make Decisions
As a therapist, I can’t begin to count the times I tell my clients to listen to their body. Frequently, our minds are like monkeys, swinging around from one idea to the next, which results in us feeling indecisive, and like we are going to pull out our hair- not a pretty sight.
Monkey brain often presents when we need to make a decision and, as someone who has been self-diagnosed with Decision Making Disorder (DMD), I know that the struggle is real. Whether it is something as seemingly simple as deciding if we should text the guy we like, to making a decision that has far greater implications, coming to a conclusion is always a challenge.
This is where your body comes in. Your body is often times much smarter than your mind and if you listen to it, you can save yourself time and learn how to respect your physical cues.
Curious? Read on to learn from my experiences so yours can be better informed.
1. Know Your Body’s Triggers
I know, trigger is such a therapist word, but I’m rolling with it. It is defined as something that precipitates a particular event. For many of us, we can think of situations in hindsight- because hindsight is always 20/20- when we want to smack ourselves on the head for not realizing what was right in front of us. When we do this and identify a specific situation that created a strong emotional reaction, we can likely identify some bodily cues (i.e. triggers) that were trying to send us a message.
As I think back on times when I felt pulled in different directions and I recall those deciding moments, I remember what my body felt like. In times of anxiety, it felt like I was on a roller coaster and my stomach had just dropped. When I get angry, my face feels hot and I clench my jaw. If I am sad, I feel a lump in my throat and can sense that quivering lip before the tears fall. Happiness and joy heightens my energy, I’m smiling, and feeling bright.
They say knowledge is power and I believe knowing this about yourself is potentially the most powerful tool you have. If you can recognize your body’s signals, you can identify the feelings you’re having without having to really think all that much and that is super helpful when that monkey is being all distracting in that brain of yours.
2. Breathe Into Your Body
The first step in listening to your body is knowing what to listen for. Otherwise, you’re kind of standing in silence expecting an epiphany to hit. That light bulb will go off if you know your body’s triggers. From there, you have to give yourself enough time, and most importantly, silence, to allow your body to talk to you. To facilitate this, I am going to suggest possibly the most obvious thing: breathe. To clarify, this is not shallow breathing; this is not the natural kind of breathing. This is deep belly breathing. When we provide our body with a chance to relax and sink into itself, it is capable of sending out those messages. Think about the times when you are panicked and rushing around, worrying about an event, or trying to keep busy to avoid sadness or another uncomfortable emotion and then someone stops and asks you to take a deep breath, and follows it up with that brutal question, “How are you doing?” **Cue ugly crying** Those tears are a release that you allowed yourself to experience after your deep breaths. It is a must. If we hold in our emotions, they have nowhere to go and we are not being truthful to where we are at, both mentally and physically.
3. Trust Your Body and Respect Yourself
When I think back on those “D’oh!” moments when I had that gut-sinking feeling, but not listening to it creates negative self-talk that I work hard to avoid. “You idiot, you should have known better.” “The evidence was right there in front of you. How did you not see it?” “You KNEW something was off.”
Those are the common monkey messages that get relayed to my brain when I don’t trust my body’s signals. Those thoughts are a result of a lack of self-respect. I know this to be true because when I am working and behaving in an integrated manner, using both my brain and body, I feel empowered and in-line. I know that I am respecting myself and honoring what my body is telling me. When I think about this and take a deep breath in, I feel energetic, empowered and bright. I am happy and confident when I am trusting body and respecting myself.
We all have our trusted advisors of who to go to when we need to advice- friends, family, our significant others, a life coach, or therapist. Having a strong social circle is crucial to our ability to thrive. Knowing how to make decisions and trust yourself independently is also an important tool to have and use if you’re ever unable to reach a trusted confidant or want to double check that their guidance sits well with your gut.
We have all been blessed with both a smart brain and intelligent body- let's honor them both so we can engage in whole-hearted living!