Tapping into your body wisdom makes choosing simple.
I have learned to approach all things in life as a body. Since I am my body all the time, it makes sense to use my innate faculties. They were designed to serve me well, not to make life hard. And the ability of decision-making is definitely a physical process.
But for many, many years before that I used to think that understanding – knowing with the mind – was going to solve my problems. This did, however, in many cases not happen. And I felt a bit stupid for (maybe) knowing the root of the problem but being unable to change it or myself. It was demotivating and some situations seemed hopeless. When I discovered body attention and awareness training as a tool of regaining confidence in myself, I started connecting the dots between my thought patterns any my physical reactions. This is when things started to change.
A mundane but real example: I regularly found myself standing in the supermarket aisle unable to decide which yogurt to buy. Full fat or low fat, the one in a plastic cup or glass, a local producer or a . Knowing a lot and educating yourself can lead to a state of indecision, sometimes even confusion. Life is full of contradictions and the only way to make good decisions, is to listen to your body – including the mind but not limiting your choices to it. Now, when I go with what s commonly termed gut feeling, I no longer feel bad. I am still aware of the arguments in my head, but they don’t dominate my final choice and paralyze me. I am less busy with having to be right and go for what feels right for me in this moment. And I think that’s all anyone can do.
YOU NEED REASON & EMOTION TO MAKE GOOD DECISIONS
I am not a scientist but an avid reader of anything that is relevant for us professional humans and that might contain insights how we can lead a good life. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio suggests in his research that emotions are essential for the ability of decision making and that without emotions a person is unable to choose. He also said that there is a link between mental states, physical sensations and emotions.
Damasio’s essential insight is that feelings are “mental experiences of body states,” which arise as the brain interprets emotions, themselves physical states arising from the body’s responses to external stimuli.
Doesn’t it sound reasonable to you that you need to involve all of yourself if you want to make good decisions for your own life? And that a decision needs to be followed by a suitable action to lead to a good result in real life. And this is what I am teaching as somatic awareness and stress management expert. A process that integrates all levels of the human experience so you can use your potential freely and fully as is needed in the moment.
THE PROBLEM: VALUING THE MIND MORE THAN THE REST
And all it does make sense that the body and physical sensations and emotions play a role in our decision-making given that the brain is where all the information is collected. The problem might be that we give the brain and logical thinking so much more attention and importance than the rest of the body that we end up making decisions only on data and our learned ideas of what good or socially acceptable decisions are. These do not necessarily have to be the right decisions for us.
Some factors that influence our decision making:
- Social norms and the fear of breaking them
- Self-imposed and external expectations and the fear of not meeting them
- Your default decision-making mode
Your learned way of making decisions (some tend to base decisions only on reason and logic, other are more the “emotional” types)
- Past experiences in similar situations
To be able to identify all the different elements that influence your decision-making skills and to free yourself of the default ways that limit you, you can use Thinking with the Body as a tool for self-discovery and creating change. Thinking with the body applies a combination of writing & reflection, physical exercises and guided embodiment processes. To guide you out of your habitual decision-making process into experiencing new possibilities.
Ultimately, all of the tools used, even the writing part, aim at creating a physical experience and a lasting impact for you. If it’s only in the mind, it won’t last and won’t have an impact. Having a whole-body experience is the basis for learning and paving the way for a change in your life.
If you want to learn to think with the body, you can explore more material on this website in Resources section.
What are your struggles in decision-making? Or what have you found to be helpful in making decisions that you can stand fully behind? Share with us in the comments below!
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