Listening To Your Essential Self
What do I like?
That’s the big question when you want to stop living a life of following expectations and start leading your own authentically real life.
What is it that I want to do? Where do I start?
It would be awesome if, as soon as you ask these questions, the doorbell rings and a courier hands you an envelope with The Answer and a detailed checklist on how to get there. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way.
Hold on. Did I just say “unfortunately”?
In that scenario, you would be waiting for someone else to give you the answer and tell you what to do, which is exactly the pattern of following others’ standards from which you are trying to break free. So, let me rephrase...
Fortunately, it doesn’t happen that way. Because you get to answer the questions yourself.
How? Check in with your essential self. This is the part of you that knows what lights you up. It’s always there, providing the guidance you seek. It’s just that you may not have been paying attention to its messages.
The essential self does not communicate with words, it communicates with physical sensations in the body. For some people, paying attention to physical sensation is uncharted territory – in our culture, our bodies are often seen only as the vehicle that gets our heads to meetings. While our bodies do handle transportation, there is so much more going on.
You have the ability to use your body as an antenna to tune into what you want to move toward (and what to stay away from).
When I am working one-on-one with a client, we go through a deep exercise to recognize the sensations their body uses for “yes” and “no”. To start on your own, try paying attention to your shackles on and shackles off sensations.
When doing something that lights you up, it will feel like freedom. Everyone has their own physical sensations for freedom – it could be energizing, lightness, relaxation or maybe expansiveness. What does it feel like for you? That’s your shackles off feeling.
When doing something that is not right for you, it will feel like imprisonment – it could be constricting, heavy, or maybe draining. This is your shackles on feeling.
Start to notice when you feel shackles off (freedom) and when you feel shackles on (imprisoned). Make sure you are paying attention to physical sensations, not your thoughts. You may think that something is the right thing to do even though your essential self is screaming “no!”. You will begin to see where your essential self is saying “Yay!” and where it is saying “Nay.”
The “Yays!” are steering you toward your real, authentic life – a life filled with what you love.
“You may not know what the correct route will be tomorrow, but in the moment, if you listen, you’ll be shown step-by-step the way to go.” – from Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver
(Martha Beck describes shackles on and shackles off in her book, "Steering by Starlight")