I’ve gotten frustrated with this whole ‘listen to your body’ thing when I can’t tell what the tension, discomfort, and constriction in my body is all about. It doesn’t feel good, I can’t tell if it’s my nerves or my intuition, and I don’t know how to make it go away.
All I want to know is…
Is this really a ‘No’, or just another way of self-sabotaging my dreams?
Am I pre-empting a bad situation, or just chickening out?
Is this my intuition leading the way, or the default pattern I’m used to that might not actually be so good for me.
I’ve tried to figure this out in my head. I even started writing this post making a list of all the ways to discern between the two.
It was a shitty boring read.
Because just like trying to nail down how to know your No, my mind is never really going to have the sure-fire answer of what I’m feeling in my body.
So I pressed delete and landed right back where we started. That semi-frustrating, semi-liberating place of ‘listen to your body’.
But this time, instead of worrying about whether the discomfort is my fear or intuition, my ego self or higher self, I realized, it kinda doesn’t matter.
Understanding it in your head, isn’t as important as just being with it in your body.
Whether or not you should date the guy, call it off, make the offer, cancel the class, publish the post, burn the manuscript…
Before coming to any conclusion…
Listen to your body.
Chances are if you’re questioning or doubting yourself, it feels uncomofortable. Maybe there’s a knot in your stomach, or tightness in your chest, a weight on your shoulders, a heaviness in your head.
That’s the thing to pay attention to, without trying to figure out what the final answer will be. The discomfort is a sign that you haven’t gotten to the end yet. You’re still in the (messy) middle of the story.
That’s the hardest place to be; the place we try to avoid as we try to get into the clear of black or white; Yes or No.
Maybe we’re afraid the emotions are too painful, or that we won’t be able to handle them, or that others won’t be able to handle them, or that we’ll wreak havoc, lose it, fall apart, or be anything other than fine, all good, keeping calm and carrying on.
Fuck that shit.
May I invite you to consider that the messy middle is the juicy part.
It’s the part of the book that you can’t put down, the part of the movie when your wide-eyed gaze is fixed on the screen and you don’t even realize you’re still popping popcorn in your mouth even after the bowl is empty.
You can’t wait to see what happens. “What’s she going to do? Is he gonna make it?”
We’re secretly hoping they rise to the challenge, slay the dragon, kick evil’s ass, be the hero, the warrior-ess, and put things back together in their rightful place.
You’re silently cheering them on because you know they’ve got what it takes to step up and into themselves.
Without the challenge, the discomfort, they’d never get the chance to become who they are.
Things need to fall apart before they get better. It’s the way the universe works.
Order. Disorder. Reorder.
Bountiful Summers. Barren Winters. Freshly fertilized Springs.
We think the messy middle is the end of the world, but really it’s part of the cycle that invites us to grow and expand.
Avoiding it only leads to getting stuck in the contraction; which means the pain wins. It’s where the real havoc is wreaked.
This happened to me last week. I got off a call and something didn’t feel right. I was grumpy, annoyed, and felt icky inside. I was frustrated with myself, with them, with my body, with the dishwasher.
I started to brush it off. “Whatever, you’re just having a bad day.”, I told myself.
But that was just riling me up even more.
So I sat with it. In the sun, in my garden, with journal and pen in hand, and had an honest conversation with myself.
It was the typical childhood stuff… wanting approval from my dad, trying to get it from this person instead, attempting to fill the shoes that got me the love and attention when I was a kid, denying and rejecting the part of myself that might put me at risk of screwing up the perfect imbalance of it all.
This awareness gave me a few days breathing room. During which I went to a yoga festival. By the time I got home, I was shaken not stirred; 48 hours of vinyasas dislodged some pent-up energy from decades of self-repression and it was whirring through me.
My neck and upper back were on fire. I started throwing darts at my husband; a feeble attempt at displacing my pain.
I wanted to tear something, rip it to shreds. I shouted at my laptop. That fucking piece of shit that never works when I need it to.
I was back in avoidance. Ignoring the rage and the pain that I never allowed.
But then I tried something different. I gave it a voice. Instead of burying it further down inside me, I let it rise up, through, and out, of me.
It sounded like growling, hissing, seething. It looked like prowling around like an animal, grief and rage rippling through me.
And while the fly on the wall may well have thought I was crazy, riding the waves of this primal energy was the most logical thing to do.
When I’ve been asked to talk about my anger before, I could never really put it into words. All I could describe was a picture of me hissing and roaring, like a panther, or viper, or some other kind of beastly being.
I could feel the power, my body in full flow.
Seeing this in my mind and talking about it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until I let myself embody that image, that I came out the other side.
My neck and shoulders relaxed. My whole body felt like butter. The ragey storm subsided. More loving expression started flowing. There’s some sunnier possibilities appearing on the horizon.
There will be another wave, I am sure. Another time where something doesn’t feel good and I don’t quite know why. I’ll be frustrated and doubting, wanting answers and wanting out.
And that’s where I’ll attempt to ride that wave too.
That is where we get to ‘listen to your body’. Really, you are listening to your ‘Self’.
All that discomfort, pain, something that doesn’t feel right… She is trying to tell you something.
Let yourself be with Her in the messy middle. One day it might be your anger. Another your fear. Chances are there’s lots of grief, and old dried up wounds.
Until you give them a voice, they’re going to make a lot of noise, cloud your vision with static, as they try to get your attention.
Which of course is going to make it hard to discern, “Is this my nerves or intuition?”
Until you actually know what your fear sounds like, or your guilt, or your shame, grief, or anger…
Until you let them roar, loud and clear.