Is it all in your head?
Do you have so many thoughts sometimes that you cannot make a decision? Or work out what the right answer is? Does this lead to procrastination or not delivering on deadlines? When you get like this do you become absent minded, forgetting basic things? Do you sometimes second guess yourself? Are there times when your mind is whizzing with ideas that you just can’t sleep? Does it undermine your confidence and your belief in yourself and your ability? Do these endless thoughts leave you feeling tired, irritable, unmotivated or unable to cope? Sometimes, do you just not know what to do for the best?
These are really common situations that come up for me, friends, family and clients. I think it is part of the human condition. Sometimes you get to this place when your head is just SO full of stuff that you cannot think straight. I call this “being in your head”. Your awareness and focus are concentrated between your ears. It feels like a loud and jumbled place in there and can often lead to headaches, tension in neck and shoulders and a sense that you are living in your head, not your body.
Is there an alternative?
This is a common way of living for most people. In fact, when I suggest there is an alternative, people often seem surprised. It rarely occurs to people that they could bring their awareness to other parts of their body and have it serve them to make decisions or have a sense about what to do next.
This habit that people have for “being in their heads” seems to come from our training to listen to our intellect ahead of anything else. At school we are encouraged to think logically and rationally, rather than trust our intuition and follow our gut instinct about something. When we move into working life, we often get jobs that have us sitting in front of a computer all day. Our bodies barely move, while our minds are whirring with thoughts, ideas and concepts. Over time this creates a greater and greater gap between mind and body.
What can Body Wisdom give you?
Yet you are more than a head. And your body is more than a convenient transporter for your brain. Sport at school that you may or may not take with you into adult life, helps to keep that connection between body and mind. Even sport though does not necessarily build that awareness and sensitivity to your innate body wisdom. Awareness of movement and body coordination are part of that body wisdom library of knowledge. Yet your body is full of groups of nerve cells, not unlike your brain, that provide insight and awareness beyond your intellectual understanding. Not all wisdom lies in the head.
You know about these sources of wisdom. You use them in your everyday language all the time in English. “I had a gut feeling about that.” You might say. Or “My heart just isn’t in it anymore!”. “I feel it in my water” is another common expression. “I don’t know how I know, I just know!” is something entrepreneurs and business leaders say from time to time. Or that sense that a mother has about her infant child- no words are spoken, she just knows. And us men, how often have you known there was going to be trouble at that party or pub? We may experience it in many different ways. The gift is to come to understand how your body uniquely communicates its wisdom to you and how you can use it to make your life even better.
The Second Brain is not in the head
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could call upon other sources of intelligence and wisdom, that gave you insight about where you are right now in life, how you feel and therefore what the next step should be, whether to trust someone or not, to have clarity about what your next action could be, what to say next in a conversation, to know what best serves you, to keep you calm under pressure and react spontaneously and appropriately to life’s myriad situations?
The gut for example, known as “the second brain”, is a huge influence and indicator of mood. 95% of the body’s serotonin (good mood, well-being and happiness neurotransmitter) is found in the gut. Those gut feelings and butterflies in your stomach as well as that twitching feeling in your derriere, might well have valuable information for you if you paid attention.
According to Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., president and CEO of HeartMath LLC “the human heart, in addition to its other functions, actually possesses a heart-brain composed of about 40,000 neurons that can sense, feel, learn and remember. The heart brain sends messages to the head brain about how the body feels and more.”
Breathing, relaxation and metaphor
When I am with a client who is confused or struggling to find the answer to an issue in their life, I will spend time with them connecting to the body rather than trying to work it out logically in the head. Deep breathing and relaxing tension from muscles can help to shift the awareness and attention to the body. Often, they become aware of feelings in the gut or the heart or even specific emotions showing up in the body in general.
Another way of accessing this body wisdom is to use metaphors. Painting pictures in words can access insight and understanding that logic cannot touch. I believe this is why there is prolific poetry from World War I. Soldiers needed to find a way to process the horror of the battlefield and poetry was a useful way to express those feelings through metaphor. Poets and song writers throughout time have done so to express sadness, joy, despair and rage. It is part of who we are.
Going to the body for it’s wisdom leaves the head free to do what it does best. Daily life is a dance between the head and the body. Neither is right or wrong. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. Let the head do its logical and rational thing-its great for business strategising, number crunching and making sure you get to a meeting on time. And let the body tell you what is really going on for you right now and point away from what makes you stressed, irritable and anxious and towards more of what makes you happy, enlivened, empowered and healthy.
Body Wisdom in Action
The next time you feel that confused or overwhelmed feeling that feels like SUCH hard work to sort it out. Step back, take a break, connect inward to the body and find the wisdom within. Sometimes it is a whisper, other times it is a shout, or a feeling or even a movement or posture with the body that points the way to the answer.
My brother took his life 36 years ago today. It left a huge gap in my life. When I used to think about it, I had a crushing weight on my chest that made it hard to breath. It was like I was struggling to live and be alive in the world. I have to admit my life came to a stand still after his death.
Now I have come to terms with it much more and it is a driving force in my life. As I write this, I can feel my heart expanding in its energy as I acknowledge the life directions I have taken as a direct result of his suicide. It is still sad and there is great good that has come from it (you can learn more here in this video).
My body feels the difference and tells me I am well on my way to healing that wound. My brain could not work that out- it is too caught up in the fear and the turmoil it creates. The body gives me clarity and focus and tells me I am heading in the right direction. Listen less to the head. Logic cannot solve the troubles of the heart.
Over to You
Do you get caught up in your head? Are you struggling to find the answer to your problems by racking your brains? What happens when you bring your attention to your body instead? Do you get the answers in words, feelings, pictures or sounds? Do you find it easy to connect to your body? Or do you struggle to make that connection? I’d love to hear what methods you use. What success do you have? Where do you struggle? Please comment in the box below and on social media. I look forward to engaging with you on line and in- person.
Pass it on
If you know someone who is in their head a lot of the time, please pass this on to them. They might be able to access wisdom and answers for themselves that have eluded them for years. Please share and retweet the social media posts as well and spread the Light and Love.