If you didn’t catch Part 1 of this series, you can do that here.
We’ve been taught to listen to our minds, believe all our thoughts as true and real, and systemically, have been encouraged to ignore and deny the voice and wisdom of the body. Our minds earn us degrees, help us create the accomplishments in our lives, keep us safe when driving a car.
Our mind is a powerful tool.
But so is the wisdom of our body & soul. And unfortunately, we haven’t been taught to listen to our body soul wisdom in the same way we’ve been taught to listen to our mind.
Historically, women have been deliberately divorced from their body, taught to see it as untrustworthy, ever changing and unreliable; a thing that needs to be controlled, monitored and overridden by more logical, production oriented ways of living.
We tuck this, pluck that, stuff this, cover that. We ignore it’s signals and the nudges it gives us when something doesn’t feel right or doesn’t work for physically, overriding it all with our intellect. All in an effort to rein the body in, get it to do what we want it to do, so we can perform how we’ve been told we should. So that we can look and be in such a way that is acceptable and culturally appropriate.
In that doing, we’ve gotten farther and farther away from the natural rhythms, the innate pulse of our female bodies. We ignore the gut feeling, the intuition, the little whispering voice inside ourselves. We push through our periods, hide our breastfeeding rituals, deny our appetite and make our bodies work on our breakneck schedules. We ignore the signals that tell us that something might be off with our health, our work, team or our family. We override the nudge to slow down or to nurture ourselves and our staff the way we nurture our families, our loved ones and our careers.
We’ve valued brain based intelligence and logic over wisdom and creativity, performing a role (and doing it very well) instead of balancing the natural pulse of our body rhythms with the ability to do, be and create anything we want.
As a professional career woman, I place a high value on my ability to think in process oriented terms, to create a vision for my work that is attainable and achievable. But I also learned many years ago, that without listening to my body soul wisdom, I became a very brittle, tense and dry version of myself. I learned that the whispering voice inside of me often holds the keys to unlocking the situation at hand, to helping me connect with what’s really happening for me, my team and my work.
It took a lot of trial and error for me to figure out just what it meant to listen to my body soul wisdom. I was a chronic compulsive eater, turning to food anytime the stress or anxiety in my career or life outpaced the skills I had to manage the stress and emotions. You could say I was a chronic emotional avoider, except it felt like the opposite, I felt like I had so many emotions, the only way to turn down the volume on them was through physically numbing them out. Eating was the coping mechanism I used to stuff and soothe my stressed out, overworked, anxious body, mind and spirit.
I remember the first time I reached for food and got a clear signal back that my body didn’t want or need it. It was a quiet afternoon, I was working from home and I went into the kitchen for something to eat.
I scanned around, trying to decide what I wanted and an impulse or signal from my body nudged me to pay attention to it- not only was I not hungry, there wasn’t even food that would satisfy the angst I was trying to soothe in working with a challenging boss. It caught me off guard, but it was the first step for me in being willing to hear the guidance of my body soul wisdom and respond in kind.
Our bodies “talk” to us in all sorts of ways- from the physical signals of pain and discomfort, to the sensations we receive through our five senses, to the gut intuition or energetic impulse we get that something is or isn’t right for us, the project at hand or the situation we find ourselves in.
This wisdom isn’t just good for your own life and personal wellbeing, it has an impact for both your life, and your work.
When I work with a client, we focus on attuning to her body soul wisdom on these three planes: physical signals, sensory awareness and energetic/emotional knowing. And the thing is, this isn’t a skill that is outside yourself, you already have all three of those areas happening at all times. What you need to be able to listen, thrive and balance your achievement oriented brain with your body soul based wisdom is simply to start listening.
To pay attention to not only what’s on your to do list for the day, but also how you feel (physically, sensory & energetically/emotionally) as you move through your work day.
Believe it or not, there actually is time and space to have your awareness on both things- the intellectual and the body soul wisdom that resides in you innately. They actually work in harmony perfectly, which seems obvious when it is spelled out- of course they do, they are all part of the same human body, meant to work together.
What can take a normally draining, but perhaps productive day into an enjoyable and productive day is balancing both the intellectual and the body soul based wisdom. You CAN leave the end of a long work day feeling energized, alert and satisfied rather than depleted, exhausted and drained.
Here are some examples of places where you can listen and honor your own body soul wisdom. It’s already there waiting for your attention, and I think you’ll be surprised to find, its easier than you think.
When in a meeting, pay attention to not only the words being spoken, but the exchange between yourself and your team members.
- Was there tension in the exchange?
- Was someone upset and no one in the meeting named it?
- Were you holding back your opinion, silently annoyed and resentful of the outcome of the meeting?
So many teams get stuck in drama and gossip because of what wasn’t said, what was implied and what was assumed. Practice being curious, check your gut intuition and speak the little whispering voice that tells you something is off when you feel it. Your team will grow because of your willingness to listen to your body soul wisdom.
When you eat a meal, pay attention to how you feel on all three planes as you’re eating it and in the couple of hours afterward.
- Did you inhale the food too quickly and now you’re physically uncomfortable?
- Did you reach for that particular food (say, something that is loaded with sugar) because you’re stressed and needed the extra rush to help you cope with that stress?
Then consider, what other tools might you have available to deal with stress, difficult emotions or an uncomfortable situation? I’ll be honest, sometimes food *is* the best coping mechanism, but sometimes, it is merely a habit. Often times, we have other tools available to us if we’d only step out of our habitual rut and use them. Journaling, dance, prayer, a walk in nature, meditation or just a good cry can ease the stress just as much as that pint of ice cream. I was surprised the first time I tried something other than food to deal with my stress, but it also showed me just how capable and responsive my body and soul are when I simply put attention on them, rather than stuffing them with food.
As you navigate a difficult conversation, check in with yourself:
- Are you speaking what is true in your heart and soul or overriding it with what you think will sound best?
- Are you being vulnerable and honest or are you crafting a message that fits the standard you believe you have to live into?
When we tend to our own inner experience and are honest about that, we are aligned with our body soul wisdom. We are speaking from a place where there isn’t a “I’m right and you’re wrong” kind of binary, but instead, we tap into our own vulnerability and truth to find an outcome that is free and clear way to move forward.
Believe it or not, that possibility is available in both personal *and* professional relationship. I know it seems a bit out of left field to be vulnerable at work, but let me give you an example.
For over a year, I’ve struggled on and off with a coworker who has just a wee bit of a control issue. And for most of those months, I was taking it personally- blaming her for being annoying, for interfering, for trying to run everything. I could tick off all the ways she was wrong, without fully pulling back the lens to see where I also was at play in the situation. And the truth was, when her control tendencies flared, I wobbled. I allowed myself to shut down, start blaming and acquiesce to her, which only kept her belief that how she was being, was correct. I reinforced that she needed to step in and control, because I wasn’t willing to hold my own ground and stand for what I wanted. I was afraid of the confrontation, afraid of admitting I might not know the answer or be able to track all the details. When I finally got honest with myself about the whole of the situation rather than just blaming her, I was able to speak from that place- to ask my supervisor for the information I needed to make the decisions and to commit to being willing to stand up, calmly and openly, for my ideas and the way I’d like things done, even if my coworker attempted to control.
I had to find a new level of solidity and believe in me and my ability before she would.
And in doing so, I was using my honesty and vulnerability as a path forward. By listening to the truth of my body soul wisdom, I was able to see where my own personal stories and flaws where contributing to a hard situation at work. It’s not impossible to apply your body soul wisdom at work, but it is courageous. And it will make you the leader you want to be, by setting the tone as someone who is willing to speak bravely, honestly and openly to move the work forward.
Learning to incorporate your body soul wisdom voice with your work and your health, vitality and personal life is often the missing key. With so many reports of the high rate of depression, anxiety and dis-satisfaction that swirl around in our lives, taking a new approach and honoring the voice of your body soul wisdom often unlocks that which we can’t grasp with logical reasoning and intellectual minds.
To use both your mind and your body soul wisdom to power your life, health and career is the mastery you’ve been looking for, to create the satisfaction and enjoyment you seek.