It’s the busy holiday season, and there are more things on my to-do list than I can accomplish before year- end. As I say “yes” to the items on my list, I am actually saying “no” to some others. Whenever I accept an invitation, or take time to return a phone call, whatever I choose, I create my life.
When I commit to one romantic relationship, I essentially say “no” to another. When I say “yes” to tons of volunteer work and keeping a busy work and social schedule, I may be saying no to rest, exercise or other kinds of self-care. Sometimes it seems that there is no “right” answer. I want to do it all. I want to meet everyone’s needs as well as my own. So how do you know what to choose?
Some decisions are easier than others. The tricky ones play my emotions as if they were a musical score to a Broadway show - with joy, sorrow, and a whole range of seemingly conflicting feelings showing up.
For example, when I say no, I sometimes feel grief. I mourn what I give up, even when I am moving into something that will be more life affirming for me. My recent divorce is a case in point. While being divorced has allowed a world of possibility and freedom, I miss some of the predictability and ease of partnership. I am also noticing that holiday planning seemed less complicated back then
Would I go back? NO. Do I still feel the sadness of what I have lost and the joy at what I have gained? YES.
WTF? This is not what Hollywood promised! How are we able to hold sweetness, joy and sorrow all at the same time? And yet I know in my heart, that in this weird metamorphosis, I am where I need to be, moving in the direction that I need to go.
Because I am a curious human, I sometimes hunger to know the outcome of the choices I did not make. This is more commonly called “second guessing.” Other times, I hope to be assured of an outcome before I make a decision. That is very rarely possible and may lead to getting stuck!
What I’ve finally learned is that I cannot make decisions only with my brain, because it doesn’t have the answer. It has logic, which often has nothing to do with what I really want in my heart. And sadly, just trusting emotions is also not reliable, as those fickle friends usually show up in response to what I am thinking and can change with the wind.
My hard-won insight (after years of yoga, coaching, and nonviolent communication) is to rely more on the sensations in my body for decision making. For example, I can notice a sense of relaxation and calm that I feel when I find an answer that suits me best. It shows up as easier breathing, and lightness behind my eyes. I feel more open. On the other hand, when I am conflicted, I may feel tightness in my belly, my chest and/or my throat. My eyes feel tired.
My body is really smart. It seems to be able to dialogue with my heart and my mind in ways to gather wisdom that heart or mind alone cannot access. This kind of sensory feedback can take some mindfulness to observe, but it is available if you commit to noticing. Or, download here; THE BODY COMPASS video that will take you through a simple exercise that can help you create an internal guidance mechanism.
My hope for you is that you can begin to listen carefully and notice what your body says when you say “yes,” or you say “no.” Take your time, and trust yourself. Remember, in every moment, you decide how you live your life, and you also get another opportunity to try something different.
Best Wishes for a happy and healthy 2014.