I was labeled as a “willful” child. “Stubborn and pig-headed!” as a teenager and young adult. Despite appearances, I was actually super-impressionable. For years I made choices that were better, or more appropriate, for someone else. To this day, I have to practice staying in awareness about what I really want. The specific question I ask: Is something (or someone) truly a good fit for me? The answer needs feeling and intuition, more than thought.
This important self check-in came into sharp focus recently. I’ve been mulling over where I want to move. From California. Where I’ve lived my entire life. So, a hefty decision with many options, and lots of factors to consider.
When it comes to figuring-out whether or not a place, person or thing is a good ‘fit’ for me, my brain’s usually in the driver’s seat. Does it make sense? Are there practical reasons for making this choice? My heart’s allowed to weigh-in only after my mind has pretty much sealed-the-deal. “But how do I feel, deep down, about this choice?” “What are my instincts telling me about what I’m about to do?” These are heartfelt questions. Gut-level questions. My brain’s voice is loud, compared to my heart’s gentle whisperings.
It took me a long time (and many mistakes) to understand the importance of acting on instinct and intuition. The actual science connecting my feelings with my wellbeing is legit. Turns out that, on a physical level, what I think of as my heart is actually the Vagus Nerve, linking my “gut”, to my lungs, heart, and finally to my brain. www.heartmindinstitute.org www.verywellhealth.com/vagus-nerve-anatomy-1746123 Who knew: there’s tons-more activity and “thinking” in the Vagus Nerve than in our amazing brains!
Anyway, many years of faulty-thinking- and-choices later, I now know that it’s more than just OK to tune-in to gut-feelings. Chances are, my instincts will be one-hundred-percent reliable, just when I need them to be. I wonder why I don’t listen more often ?
There’s a pretty simple reason for that. Not always, but too often, I just don’t trust what I feel. As much as what I think. My mind – logic – allows me to believe that I’m in control of a situation. Feelings and instincts are not in my control. Because they’re unfiltered and real; and usually full of emotion. As a professional in a high-stress leadership role, I just got used to controlling things. And also used to controlling too many parts of myself. My Self. It happens.
With the intensity of wanting to leave California growing, I’ve decided to take a little time every day to hush my control-freak of a mind. (I don’t meditate, I just focus on my breathing while streaming Nature sounds like “Raindrops” or “Island Birds”.) I release “thinking” about where to go, and instead focus on the feeling I’ll have when I get there. I know, on an instinctive level, my sensory must-haves. Cool, misty air; clean skies; a noticeable change of seasons; a walkable lifestyle. The deep peace of feeling relaxed in my surroundings.
A genuine “Ah-Hah!” moment recently: this process feels correct (authentic and true) for anything else I want to call into my life. A person: How do I want to feel when we’re together? That’s really more important than anything my brain might have to say, about who and what “fits” me best.
I’m not tossing out planning, logistics or other common-sense tools I use when making an important decision. But I’m reversing the order of my process. I’m asking, then allowing, my heart, intuition and feelings to speak first. It feels awkward. My mind keeps trying to butt-in – always in a hurry; always task and goal-oriented. But the more I coax my heart into opening up, into revealing her secrets, the more I hear (as the Mandalorian wisely said) “This is the way.”