Have you ever hired someone who looked great on paper, had excellent references, prestigious credentials and yet in an interview your gut told you there was something missing? Yet, you hired that person and didn’t listen to what your body was telling you. Within several months you realized you had not made a good choice, as the new hire ended up being highly competitive and out of alignment with one of your organization’s core values of collaboration.
It happens all the time. Why do we value our rational, logical left brain over our intuitive body’s wisdom? It turns out our organizations have been built on a set of beliefs that value the rational, logical left brain over our intuitive and creative right brain. We are beginning to realize the value of our intuition and the fact that leadership is both an art and a science.
In a recent leadership development class on authentic feminine leadership I taught with women leaders from a variety of countries, we walked through a number of qualities of authentic feminine leaders including: creativity, collaboration, inclusiveness, and intuition (discussed in more detail here – https://pamela-thompson.com/why-feminine-leadership-holds-the-key-to-creating-a-world-that-works-for-everyone/). I then asked each student to rate themselves on a scale from one to ten related to how well they embraced each of the qualities we had shared. After that, I invited them to revisit their ratings, identify the one most challenging for them related to their leadership, reflect on why, and share their reflections. It turned out intuition was the quality they were most challenged to embrace.
How can we learn to listen to and trust in our body’s wisdom and use it to make better decisions in our work and personal life?
Here are a few tools I use myself and have taught to clients from a variety of countries and cultures to help them get out of their heads and into their bodies.
- Body Scanning – This is an excellent tool to use to become more aware of your body and the messages it sends you. It’s helpful to do this first thing in the morning before you get out of bed or at night before you retire.
Close your eyes and take several deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then begin scanning your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Notice any areas of tightness or discomfort. Breathe into those areas and imagine releasing the tightness or discomfort.
- Mindfulness Walking Meditation – Many of us who are busy and driven are challenged to sit down and meditate. If that is you, mindfulness walking meditation may be “just what the doctor ordered”. It’s preferable to do this outside in nature.
As you walk, focus on all of your senses. Feel the cool breeze against your face, smell the salt from the sea, hear the chirping of the birds, see the beautiful vistas or forest you are walking in. When thoughts come in, as they will, imagine they are clouds floating by and let then go or put them in a bubble and watch them float away. I encourage you to do this 3 times a week to start, for 20 to 30 minutes each time. Notice how you feel after each walk and the cumulative effect.
If you wish to learn more about how to “listen to and trust in your body’s wisdom”, I encourage you to read chapter 4 in my book Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women. Note that men as well as women have found this book helpful.
I welcome your comments below, in particular on strategies you have found useful to help you to make wise decisions by tapping into your body’s wisdom.
 As faculty for Women Leading in Change https://femalewaveofchange.com/reshape-the-future/ – a virtual leadership development program of Female Wave of Change.
When I set out to write my first book “Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women” that launched on Amazon last week, I had no idea the emotional roller coaster I would ride in the weeks leading up to “going public” with the book.
About a month before launch day, I started to feel incredible tension and anxiety in my body. For a number of years adrenalin had been a foreign substance in my body, but in the weeks leading up to the launch, adrenalin and the other stress hormones returned with a vengeance. Not only did I feel underlying anxiety (which is not normal for me), I was having trouble going to sleep and waking up early. I started to have misgivings about certain personal stories I had included in the book. Should I remove them? Should I tone them down? What would people think? I was baring my soul to the world and felt extremely vulnerable.
The next wave was a mixture of excitement and fear. I kept saying to myself “ride the wave”, “let this move through you”, “you are safe.” Reflecting on this, I think I was likely experiencing a number of fears and insecurities from the past that were still in my body and presented themselves with such questions as “What will people think … Will they connect with the book? Will my message reach them?” The old inner critic was running wild!
Then a week to 10 days before the launch, I felt overwhelmed by the number of things yet to be done – finish and proof the companion workbook, craft emails and posts, ask for support from friends and colleagues to share the book launch information through social media and/or emails to their contacts. It felt like there were not enough hours in the day. Then it was down to prioritizing and focusing on what was most important.
A big challenge that came up was reaching out for support to so many people to ask them to get the word out. That really stretched my comfort zone being a high achieving woman who is challenged to reach out for support, and is often the one giving to and supporting others.
Writing my book was the easy bit. It flowed out of me. The emotional roller coaster of pre-launch was the most challenging, yet it was growth-producing and taught me a lot. The most amazing part of the launch was the incredible high I felt when I saw that my book had reached #1 in the rankings in 2 categories on Amazon. I did a happy dance, was “pumped” for my launch party and basked in the amazing energy for a few days. I imagine it is similar to the exhilaration a surfer experiences when they ride a huge wave successfully to shore.
Have you experienced something similar? Do you relate? I welcome your thoughts and comments below. Feel free to share the post with others.
When you have an important decision to make, how do you usually approach it? If you’re anything like me, I used to do the pros and cons list and make a logical left-brain decision. Some years ago, I began reflecting on my life and realized that the decisions I’ve made from my heart or my gut have always been the right ones for me, resulting in positive life experiences. When the decisions came solely from my head and my logical left-brain (using a pros and cons list), the results were not so good.
During the past 15 years or so I have become consciously aware of how important it is to listen to my body, how to do it and how to trust in the messages it sends me.
Did you know that our gut and our heart have nerve endings that send signals to our brains? So when we say that our gut or heart is telling us something, there is scientific evidence this is so
How can you access, listen to and trust in your body’s wisdom and the messages it sends you? Here’s a process I use and teach my clients.
Think about a decision you would like assistance in making. Get comfortable, close your eyes, take several deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then continue to breathe normally in and out through your nose. Feel your feet and imagine deep roots coming out of the bottom of them and reaching deep down into Mother Earth. Then imagine branches growing from your shoulders and head that reach up to the sky and tap into the beautiful Source Energy/God/Universal Energy (whatever you choose to call it). Feel that light coming in through the top of your head and bathing your entire body. Now that you are grounded and connected with earth and sky/heavens, ask the question that you would like clarity on. It could be, Should I apply for that new position? Should I start my own business? Continue to breathe deeply and notice if any answers come up for you.
Some people experience a sense of knowing, others receive an auditory message, still others see a vision of someone speaking to them, or an object that is a metaphor or a sign of what is in their best interest or for the highest good.
This takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself and learn to trust the process and your body’s wisdom. You may find it easier to start with smaller decisions that don’t involve much change in your life: Should I call up my friend today? Often when you follow your heart or gut and call up a friend, they will say to you, “We must have ESP!” or, “I was just thinking of you and about to give you a call.” It’s like a muscle: the more you use your body’s wisdom, the easier it will become and in time you will make decisions that you trust are the right ones for you.
Some people find that initially no answer comes to them. If you find that to be the case, don’t beat yourself up. Rather, ask throughout the day for a sign that provides you with the answer. Let go and get on with your day and notice that at some time when you’re not thinking about it, the answer may come to you and you will know what action to take.
Another suggestion is to ask a question just before you go to sleep and also ask that you receive the answer on awakening. It’s helpful to keep a pen and paper by your bed in case things come to you during the night or on awakening. *
I invite you to experiment with the process above. I’d love to hear your experiences and welcome your comments below. Feel free to share the process with others.
* Part of this post is an excerpt from my book Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women. Stay tuned for the launch date!
Are you feeling that you want to make a bigger impact in the world? Is this the year you want to PLAY BIG?
It was mid-August 2010. I had launched my on-line coaching business 18 months before and had a network of coaches in Canada and the US. We were coaching people through various life transitions. I felt restless. I enjoyed the clients I worked with and the business was doing okay, but I felt like I wanted to make a bigger difference in the world. Can you relate?
At that time, I was taking a Body-Centred Coaching Program with Marlena Field (http://www.bodymindspiritcoaching.com/). During the last class I volunteered to do the demo with the instructor. It was a decision-making process that involved using your body to make decisions. I was told to find a line on the floor and to stand in front of it. I found a carpet in my office and stood as instructed. Marlena asked me to think about something that I really wanted and to deeply feel it in my body. She then said “notice any fears or doubts that come up for you when you think about that desire. Imagine that the fears and doubts are rocks in a knapsack on your back and let them all fall to the ground; release them. Think about what you want and cross that line on the floor as you choose. You may walk across it, run across it or leap across it. As you cross the line say aloud what you want. “
I recall leaping across the line and yelling “I want to PLAY BIG!” At that moment, I had no idea what PLAYING BIG meant. Within two weeks I received an email asking if I was interested in one of three positions in a new program the Canadian International Development agency was funding to support the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan. One of the positions had my name written all over it; Technical Advisor, Strategic Planning and Performance Measurement. I recall thinking how about 5 years before I had so wanted to have the opportunity to work in Afghanistan and to help women in that country.
After some reflection, I realized that I wanted to put my name forward for the position. I shared this with my partner Alan who was totally supportive. He encouraged me to go for it. Within two weeks I was being interviewed for the position. In mid-October I was on the ground in Kabul on a 9 month contract to assist the Ministry of Public Health to develop their first strategic plan and to build the capacity of internal teams to do strategic and operational planning. For me this was truly PLAYING BIG!
Has something similar happened to you? Do you want to PLAY BIG but aren’t sure what that means? I encourage you to try the tool above and see what happens. I’d love to hear your experiences! Feel free to share and comment.
P.S. The line on the floor I leapt across was an Afghan prayer mat that had been gifted to me a number of years before!
I believe that man is essentially good
And that we are all interconnected.
I believe that everything happens for a reason.
The Universe provides me with what I need
And Great Spirit is guiding me towards fulfillment.
Nature connects me with my soul.
I believe that life is an adventure to be lived to the FULLEST
And I am here to help build peace in the world.
What do you believe – about yourself; the world; why you are here; what you are meant to do?
Beliefs are “assumptions or convictions that are held to be true, by an individual, or a group, regarding concepts, events, people and things.”
I particularly connect with Ty Bennett’s definition of beliefs.
“Beliefs are the core of who we are, what we do, and the success that we acquire … It is the power of belief that causes things to happen in our lives … A belief is both mental and emotional. It is embedded in the mind and the heart.” – http://tybennett.com/the-true-definition-of-belief/493/
Our beliefs are extremely important for us to unearth and get clear on as they have a powerful impact on our lives. In the busy lives we lead, balancing so many balls, bombarded with so much information and so many “to dos”, how do you get clear on what’s important to you and what you believe about yourself, the world, why you’re here (on earth) and what you’re here to do (your mission and purpose)?
Here are a few suggestions:
1) Find a quiet place in nature or in your home where you can spend 15 to 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. Have some writing materials with you and/or a smartphone.
2) Close your eyes and take several deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
3) Get grounded. Feel your sitting bones on the chair, imagine you have roots coming out of the bottom of your feet grounding you to the earth and branches coming out of your head and shoulders connecting you with the sky, heavens, universal/source energy (whatever you wish to call it).
4) Ask yourself: What do I believe about myself? You may find it helpful to use the stem I am … Ask this question with your eyes closed and notice what comes up for you. Examples might be: I am creative; I am a loyal friend; I have the ability to connect with people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures; I inspire others by my thoughts, words and actions; I am a gifted writer … ; I have the ability to translate complex concepts and make them easy to understand. …
5) Begin recording what comes from within on your phone or open your eyes and begin to journal. Let the words flow without judging or editing them.
6) Either continue asking yourself the following questions at the same sitting or spread them out over a few days or weeks using a similar process.
- What do I believe about the world? I believe that; for example, the world is friendly; the Universe guides and supports me …
- What do I believe about my purpose? I am here to …; for example, build peace in the world.
- What do I believe about my life? I believe I have been given opportunities to learn certain lessons so that I may be of service to others and understand their pain. I believe I’m here to make a positive difference in the world.
7) At a later date revisit what you’ve written with an open mind and heart. Notice whether any emotion comes up for you. Do you have any ahas about your responses? Do you have a better understanding of yourself and what you’re on the planet to do? Also notice if your inner critic comes up and says “ that’s bragging … how can you say that about yourself; OR if you feel overwhelmed by your purpose. Get curious.
8) You may wish to share your experience with this process with a close friend or colleague who knows you well and whose feedback you value and respect. You may also wish to work with a coach to assist you to gain more clarity about your passion and purpose and support you to move forward toward the life and business of your dreams.
What do you believe? We welcome your thoughts and comments below. Feel free to share this post with others who you think might find it of value.