In a recent moment of frustration and confusion I threw my hands up, had a mini temper tantrum and yelled to the heavens “Somebody just tell me what to do!”
I used to constantly ask my friends to solve my problems. I would ask them what I should do, and then ask other friends for a second opinion. It became an endless search find what seemed right.
The process left me crippled. I couldn’t make a decision unless I got a friend on the phone to talk through it. I recently found a way to answer my own questions, and I have now taught it to my clients who have all been impressed with how easy it is to find their own answers.
Here is my easy five step system that you can start practicing right away.
1. Sit in Silence.
Practicing stillness is very different from meditating. Stillness creates clarity and power. It will also help you discern between the internal loud, pushy voice and the still, quiet voice that comes later if you really listen.
Turn off anything that makes noise. Sit, be quiet, and still for 10 minutes. That’s all. You can space out completely. There’s no need to think, or count your breath. If your brain won’t stop running, let it run. You just have to be still and quiet. If you fall asleep, that’s ok too.
Results aren’t important, it’s just meant to be a practice in stillness and listening.
2. Practice a Body Scan
One of the most useful tools I have learned is how to speak my body’s unique language. The more you pay attention the more it will talk to you, and practicing a body scan will help you learn this language. A body scan done on a regular basis will teach you how your body responds in various situations. I recommend that you practice this twice a day for a week. Keep a notebook to track what you notice. Look for changes from one day to the next, and sometimes noticing an absence is just as important and noticing something unusual.
If you do the exercise and you don’t feel anything, start by squeezing your thumb. Describe what that feels like. Move through your body, squeeze different parts. This gets you in tune with your sensations.
To do a body scan, give yourself 3-5 minutes in a quiet place. Close your eyes, and take three deep breaths. Focus on your feet and notice anything you feel. Are you clenching, is there tightness or tingling, or do you feel nothing at all? Move up your leg pausing at major areas, like calves, knees, and thighs. Next pause at your hips, glutes, stomach and lower back. Note anything you sense. Work your way up your back, into your shoulders and into your chest. Mentally scan down your arms to your hands. Then sense your neck. Finally, notice any tension in your face, particularly your jaw, the area around your eyes, and your forehead.
This will start to track how your body handles different situations. In the future, you will notice your body’s signals and will have a clearer indicator about how to act and respond.
3. Test for your Intuitive Yes and No
Did you know that your body will give you a physical answer for Yes and No? It is different for everyone, but there are a few ways to calibrate so you understand how to read the signals.
The easiest way to understand is to think back to your past. Think of someone that was really wrong for you- maybe a school bully or an ex-lover. Scan your body for the response. This is your “No.” Then think of someone that you have an obvious and uncomplicated positive response towards. Scan your body, and note what you feel because this is your “Yes.”
Test this in your real life. Do you want a smoothie or scrambled eggs for breakfast? How does your body react when you say each option out loud?
4. Make Mistakes
Making mistakes is one of the fastest ways to prioritize what really matters to you.
Test my theory by flipping a coin. Find a problem you have with two answers. Assign an answer to each side of the coin. Flip the coin, but no matter which side actually wins your reaction to the result will tell you what you really want.
I encourage you to make mistakes. Blunders will show you what you truly value. Observe your reactions, what can you learn from that, and how can you realign your life to live those values?
5. Balance Rest and Play
This falls under the title of “if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.” When I am working, I feel like I am playing. I am completely in the flow of life and it is completely joyful. And when I have a task that doesn’t feel like play, I can turn it into a game or I learn to delegate and ask for help (like paying for someone to do my taxes).
When I’m not playing, I give myself time to rest, more than just sleep. I give myself a time to recharge, to do nothing. Like winter, it may look like I am not getting anything accomplished but this time is necessary to be ready to play and produce my best. Rest is anything from a nap, a good workout, or dancing. It is whatever I need to let go of expectations of producing and to instead just recover.
I encourage you to test this for yourself and tell me your results. When I started practicing, I felt clearer and lighter. I also felt more confident that I was making the right choices for what I really wanted in my life.
Recently, a client admitted that she came to me expecting to be handed all the answers. That I would be able to tell her what job to take to make lots of money and make her dreams come true. She wasn’t sure if she should apply for a job in marketing because it would give her more money. After teaching her these steps she firmly decided that job was a bad fit for her. She is using these tools on a daily basis to feel more confident in all areas of her life including personal relationships and her side hustle with a rapidly growing theater company.
That gift of certainty is something cannot be given from someone on the outside. It can only be created from within.