Full Body Decision Making

Author: Alicia Lord

If you are anything like me, you typically depend on logic, reasoning, and thinking to make decisions. It seems I have created invisible barriers between aspects of my life and world, parsing out the aspects that “should” be governed by either thoughts or emotions. Though I identify as a primarily emotion-centered person, there is something about making a choice or decision, especially one that feels big or important, that immediately results in my brain gripping for control. It is as if I cannot possibly make the wrong choice if I have effectively reasoned it away; I cannot make a mistake if my brain is in control.

Even as I write this, I have an urge to roll my eyes and tell myself “that’s ridiculous and not how the world works.” Old patterns, however, are hard to break. Our culture holds a very thought-based value system, and throughout my entire life this has been taught to me, ingrained into my being, by all of the models in my world. Decisions and choices are just problems to be solved, right? Talk it out, make a pro/con list, think about which option will likely have the best outcome…whatever you do, just figure it out! Nobody ever taught me that I could make a decision with my body.

Treating the energy and movement of life like a math equation hasn’t really been working out for me. This lesson came to me, as they often do, with a challenging decision handed to me by life itself. In the face of what felt like a weighty decision with many possible outcomes, narrowing my options down to two was effortless. Taking it a step further, however, is where the disconnection between my head and the rest of my body began. My head took over without me even realizing. The logical decision seemed easy enough—I looked at the evidence available to me and assessed what seemed like minimal risk. My chest and stomach began to tighten, but I pushed them out of my awareness. I made my choice.

As you are probably anticipating, after I communicated my decision to the necessary parties, things started to shift. My head and my body reconnected and I was hit with an immediate sense of dread. I had an intense feeling of being on a roller coaster, my internal world filled with uneasy energy. The mistake I was so desperately trying to avoid was here.

I am not going to fill you in on the details of what came next, or whether or not I was able to rectify my mistake. That is not what matters here. The decision I made was not life changing, but my process around it has that potential. The intensity of my reaction, though unpleasant, brought my awareness to a pattern that I have been engaging with, and at this point in time is no longer serving me. For the first time, I felt the strength of my intuition. And I trust that it holds a knowing that I am ready to explore. Now, the work for me is in finding ways to call upon it before a decision is made rather than in hindsight.

The steps that I will use to strengthen my ability to listen intuitively, I offer here to you as well. My experience has been profoundly body-based, rooted in the sensations of my stomach and chest—so that is where I begin. Building awareness is the first step to any self-exploration, so I will invite body awareness whenever a decision presents itself. I have seen the power of my brain to take control, so it may be a struggle to quiet my mind and bring attention to my sensations. I must find a way that works for me to allow for more balance and breathing room to my decision-making process. I also don’t want to cut out the thinking brain entirely, as it does offer it’s own value. Ultimately, this is a practice in choosing mindfully, and trusting what feels right.

Intuition lies below the conscious brain, but it does have ways of communicating with us—we only have to be willing to listen. Almost all of us have had an experience of knowing without thinking, yet it is a sensation that can be hard to have faith in or to give control to. Maybe it is not a matter of one aspect having control over another. The human body has both the ability to know cognitively and to know intuitively because both are valuable. What decisions would you make in your life if you could balance what feels right with what makes sense? At this moment in time I believe that it takes the whole body to make a whole decision. I, for one, want to live my wholeness. And it starts with allowing my intuition a little more power in my life. 

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