The most important tool I use to make decisions (it’s not my mind)

Hey everyone, today I’m going to share with you one of the most important tools I use in all parts of my life to help me make decisions that are the best for me.

Transcript: How to Use Your Body as a Compass to Lead You to Your Best Life

You hear things in the personal growth world such as how do you find your right life, how do you find your purpose, how do you stay on the path to your destiny?

I’m going to share a tool with you today that I learned from Martha Beck, who writes for O Magazine, and she’s written New York Times bestsellers, Finding Your Own North Star.

I was trained by Martha back in 2008 to be a life coach and then in 2009 to be a master life coach, and this tool is the tool that I use regularly.  It’s become a part of my life. Martha calls it the “body compass.”

I want to tell you a story about how I used this tool to help buy the house that we live in today.

John and I have lived in Portland since the late 90s, and during that time, we lived in condos. Mostly, I commuted up here and we lived in condominiums in what’s known as the Pearl District.

I started realizing, at some point, living in this urban area, that I wanted to live in a home again. It made no sense that in our 60s that we would move from a condo back to a home. In fact, we found a home that had 1/3 of an acre.  We had both said we would never have that much property again because it’s a lot of work to keep up.

When we first came to this home with a realtor, my body was at peace because the house had the most peaceful feeling. I knew that was going to be the truth. That my body felt calm here. This felt like a Zen house. The yard was gorgeous. It felt private and peaceful, and that’s what I was really yearning for, and a garden space.

So, John agreed to come along with the ride, and I’m glad he did because we both love living here.

However, I want to tell you, during the process of having the house remodeled, before we moved into it, my mind would go into these fits about this decision because it didn’t make sense from the perspective of what most people do at this age.  My mind would tell me that it’s not a rational decision . . . “you’re moving from these condos where people tend to downsize, and you’re moving back to a home.”

So, I went with this tool every time I’d start to get anxious and frustrated about making the right decision, and then I would tune in to my body.  Every time I went over to the house, I tuned in and I paid attention. I knew every time that my body was making the right decision because my body felt at peace.

We are both happy with our home and although it doesn’t make sense sometimes to others it makes sense for us and that’s what counts.

I want to share this tool with you and teach you how to use it because this is a tool you can use to make buying decisions, to make job decisions, to make client decisions such as do I like how I feel when I’m talking with this particular client? Is this a fit?

I use it all the time because the body never lies.

The body is always your truth teller, and it’s always your GPS that’s going to lead you to your best life.

Your body talks to you in physical sensations.  This is the language of the body.

The way this works is when the mind, the left brain, the ego, the language center, has a thought the body will follow.

One of the things that I would say is that when you’re thinking a certain thought, I’m going to teach you how to tell what happens in your body response immediately. So, here’s how you do it.

I want everybody to get comfortable and I want you to sit and uncross your legs. I want you to tune into your body. I want you to close your eyes. We’re going to do a short exercise here so you can get the feel for how this works.

You may have spent a lot of time in your life, like all of us have, doing things that just didn’t feel pleasant or comfortable to you, and your body was telling you, screaming at you even, in loud, physical sensations that this was not the right way to go about whatever you were doing. It could have also even sabotaged you in certain situations.

The truth is that our mind or how we’re socially wired and conditioned can override the body. This is what we want you to get back to is your essential self and what makes you happy.

So, get comfortable in your chair or wherever you’re sitting. Uncross your legs. Let’s take two deep breaths. And then, close your eyes and relax.

Now you’re ready, and we’re going to start some visualization so you can get a sense of how this works.

The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to look back in your memory, and you’re going to find one of the places in time that was a really difficult time for you. It could have been a worst memory. It could have been something about a breakup. It could have been about a death in the family. It could have been the loss of a job. It’s a low point. So, I want you to anchor that in your memory, in your mind now. Your eyes are closed.

And, I want you to remember in the most vivid way that you can exactly what that situation felt like for you. Was your heart broken into pieces when you think about this. Go into the feelings and notice. Go back to that time. Go into your senses and be as physical as you can about this — the textures and the sounds and the smells. What was going on?

As you hold this memory in your mind, you’re going to feel some of those same emotions you felt at that time. I want you to go inside and notice where you feel them and name them. Is your stomach tight? Is your chest constricted? Does your throat feel tight? Do you have tension in your forehead? Go inside and name it.

And then, I want you to rank this. I want you to rank it on a scale of 0, being neutral, and negative 1 to negative 10, and negative 10 would be the worst experience. I want you to rank it. Give it a number. I want you to rank it, and we’re going to compare.

You’ve noticed where you feel it. And, I want you to notice, are these typical places that you notice tension and stress in your everyday life? When you’re really tense, are these the same places?

I want you to get to know them. That’s why I want you to notice and name them. This is your signal. Your body is talking to you.

So now, you can open your eyes. Let’s take some deep breaths. Get rid of that. Let’s take another one.

Now, I want you to go inside. Close your eyes again and go inside, and we’re going to find a time that was one of your best memories.

Close your eyes. Go to a time that you felt happier, that you felt so happy. What is one of those peak experiences in your life? I want you to go into your body again, and feel the sensations. Do you feel your energy is different this time? Do you feel lighter? Do you feel butterflies? Do you feel energetic feelings?

Just notice and name those physical sensations.

Now, I want you to take your ranking. We’re going to rank it again. Zero is neutral. And then, a plus 1 to a plus 10. Ten is your best…highest…happiest. And rank it. Is it a plus 6, plus 8, plus 10?

Notice how your body communicated to you with these physical sensations.

The real benefit of doing this exercise is that you have learned by experiencing it. It shows you how you can change your internal state while just sitting in a chair and doing nothing but focusing on your mind.

Jill Bolte Taylor is the author and neuroscientist. She wrote, My Stroke of Insight, and she actually had a stroke in her left brain and recovered and wrote about it. She says it takes 90 seconds for your mind to think a thought and for your body to take it into a physiological state. That’s exactly what you’ve just done.

Byron Katie likes to say that your body is innocent.

I love that because the body is really along for the ride, and your body is innocent.

What we’re looking for here is how you can use your body in instances where you need to make a decision. Just notice how your body feels when you’re thinking about maybe a big purchase you want to make, and just go to the sensations and follow it, and start using it in little ways.

So, your action item this week is to use the body compass.

If you’re about to make a purchase decision, decide using the body compass. If you’re out and about and want to go to a movie, and you aren’t sure, and you’re picking movies, use your body compass.  Ask yourself, “What do I most want to do? And, hold that in your mind while you notice. Name what your body is doing, and decide from there.

So if you liked this article or video, please share it with your friends.

If you want more actionable tips like this each week, sign up at SheroldBarr.com.  I’d love to hear from you about your experience using this tool.

Thanks everybody!

xo, Sherold

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  1. WOW!!! loved the body compass, this is exactly what I needed to hear today as I am deciding between two homes. And I feel so peaceful now with my decision, thank you 🙂

    1. Josani – I’m so grateful you saw this and used it for your home decision. This was one of the biggest purchases my hubbie and I made so trusting my body to cast my vote for this house was a powerful piece of evidence for me. This should me that no matter the size of the decision, this is the only tool to use. Thank you for writing in. I will keep on bringing you all tools you can use;)

  2. Thanks Sherold!
    I loved this video – my body always tells me what I should know….happy butterflies or knot in my stomach. I love “the body is innocent” – that is perfect.
    Now I just have to learn to be a better listener!
    thanks for the exercise – it will be very helpful going forward.
    Bridget

    1. Bridget – it’s so great to hear from you! Thank you for commenting. I am “experimenting” to see if people like my blogs or like the audio or transcript. I will
      keep doing them if people like you let me know they are using the tools. I’m excited because I will share more tools and actionable tips every week. It’s my focus now.
      Next time you need to make any decision – go out with a friend, go to a party or what you want to eat for dinner, try the body compass. The more you use it, the more
      you will start seeing how powerful it is. The “mind” will rationalize itself out of anything due to fear or stress. The body never lies. Glad to hear from you:)

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