Sure, our brains can be helpful—they can weigh logic, process information, and save eBay searches for JBrand jeans—but they’re sneaky. They tell us what they think we "should" do; they overlook crucial data; they—how to say it nicely?—lie like cheap rugs. In contrast, our bodies are more faithful barometers of our core beliefs, desires and values.
To tap into this inner wisdom, use what master life coach Martha Beck calls your Body Compass. Whenever you're contemplating a change, close your eyes, take several deep breaths, then ask your body what it thinks. Listen for its response. Do you feel more open, lighter, your energy more sparkly? That's your body telling you you’re moving in the right direction. Do you feel more constricted, sluggish, heavy? That’s your body putting up a big stop sign. Focus on physiological sensations. "Anxious" and "happy" are thoughts masquerading as feelings. What does "anxious" feel like? What does "happy" feel like? Where does your body say yes or no? For some people, it's literally a "gut feeling;" for others, a constricted throat, an open chest, or tight shoulders broadcast an inner truth.
If you routinely push past exhaustion, discomfort, or even pain, it can be hard to listen to signals you've long suppressed. Be patient and keep practicing. Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can help you quiet down your brain so that you can better listen to your body.
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