You no longer know what you’re feeling at a conscious level. You keep choosing activities or situations for your life but once you’re in the midst of it, you realize you’re not happy and that you’ve made the “wrong” choice (again!). As Martha Beck writes so eloquently in many of her books and in her blog, we have allowed the social self to rise to ascendancy without connecting to the essential self, our true self. When that happens, we can become disconnected to what we like, love, or hate. At its essence, it’s like the volume is turned down on what we really want, so we can’t hear what’s really going on within our own hearts.
This blog is meant to serve as a quick and easy guide about how to start peel back the social self so that you can start to hear the essential self, the real you under all the layers of social acceptability and conditioning you’ve acquired through the years.
Using Your Body as a Guide- Use Your Own Internal/Emotional GPS
The amazing thing is that even though you may be nearly totally divorced from your true, essential self at the conscious level, your body has been sending you signals and messages all the time. You’ve just been too distracted or untrusting or numb to tune in. But by using your own body’s signals, you have an exquisitely attuned GPS system that is ready to guide you through life. You just need to become aware at a conscious level about the signals your body is sending you.
The first thing you must do is start to actually listen in to the quiet whispering of your essential self. The real you, underneath it all, is still communicating with you. But the essential self’s quiet voice may very well be drowned out by the busyness of your life, by the distractions, by the commitments you’re keeping, the food or booze or TV you’re using to distract yourself.
Instead of watching more TV/Netflix/Amazon Prime or getting a snack after the kids have gone to bed, just sit down and rest in silence. Do it for 5 minutes at first and then keep stretching it a few minutes every day until you can sit and pause in silence for at least 20 minutes at a time.
At first the silence may feel weird and it may even be deafening, but stay with it. This may take a few days or even weeks as you slowly wean yourself off the distractions.
After a few days of silence and stillness, you may find that your essential self is screaming at you with all the information you’ve been avoiding with your distractions and busyness. If so, just listen in without acting on any of it for a while. Just listen and get used to hearing what you’ve been avoiding for so long.
Act with Discernment- Take Baby Steps
Because it’s been so long since you’ve acted on your true self’s guidance, you may need a little help with remembering what’s true for you versus what you’ve conditioned yourself to accept. So think of something trivial in your life and start to use make small choices based on your gut.
For example, you have two blouses in your closet. One’s blue and the other is red. Imagine them both in your mind’s eye. Hold up the blue blouse in your mind’s eye (or in actually in your hand if you’re having a hard time imagining it). What are you feeling when you consider the blue blouse?
Your body will give you a thumbs up or down somewhere. For me, it’s the pit of my stomach. I feel either expansive ease or a contraction, a tightening. The expansive ease is a yes and the contraction is a no, for me.
Next hold up the red blouse. What feelings or sensations arise in your body? Do you prefer the blue or red blouse? Whatever comes up, don’t push it away. Just feel the yes and the no. Keep at it with a few additional items in your closet.
By the way, it’s important to start this type of exercise with something that isn’t triggering for you because you may have too much tied up in getting it “right” of the choices are too important in the moment. So perhaps you don’t want to use food or other triggering situations at first.
Then move on to other things in your life. Pick two potential movies to watch. Or two new plants you’re considering planting in the front yard. or two different routes to your new weekend activity. Just silently consider each one and feel what your body is telling you.
Be Compassionate and Trust Your Body
You may try to judge yourself for having gotten so far off center. Try not to do that. Instead, be grateful that you’re here now, ready to listen to your body and what it has to say.
Act On The Guidance Your Body is Giving You. Trust Yourself
After several rounds of considering two options in situations (that aren’t’ triggering), you likely have a sense of what the yes and the no feel like in your body. When you do, start acting on it. Only go with your yes options. Put down the shirt that gives you the no. Follow the yes. Don’t choose the no.
As you start to listen in and trust your body, the signals will be stronger and you’ll be able to hear what your body is telling you faster and with greater ease. With repetition, you’re strengthening a new behavior pattern which will make choosing what makes your essential self happy easier and more automatic.
Remember be compassionate and trust your body. In a relatively short amount of time, you’ll feel happier and lighter and your outer life will start to resemble what your inner landscape looks like.
What does your inner guidance feel like? Where do you feel it? I’d love to know. Feel free to leave me a comment about you think!