How to Find Your AnswersAug 07, 2021
Enough already, right? It’s great to define finding your own answers, and okay, maybe I do have everything I need inside. But, how the heck do I find those answers?
Am I close? Is that what you’re thinking? Okay. Let’s take care of those questions. and get those answers.
Have you ever had a gut feeling about something? Well, that is a version of finding your own answers. In some cases, you feel it so strongly because your body and mind are trying to keep you safe. In other cases, it may be something seems okay (or even great) on the surface, but your body knows that it is not okay for you. So, it’s letting you know. It’s giving you answers to a question that you may not have even consciously asked. There are people who make decisions based only on that gut feeling. Some people call it instinct or intuition, and it is a VERY good thing. I probably tend towards making decisions based on that feeling more than a lot of people, but you do what’s right for you. Compare that gut feeling to the logical pros and cons, and then see how that feels in your body. If it feels right, maybe that gut instinct was a reaction to a possible change. Our left-brains do not like change, so that is a possibility. If that gut feeling is still saying no, maybe you should consider that your body knows something you haven’t quite recognized yet.
All of that, though, is how to recognize answers. How do you actively go find them? Well, you have to get still. I don’t mean motionless here. I mean get your mind still. Most of us live with a LOT noise in our heads from both external sources and our own minds. Any other list-makers out there? I know you’ve heard the phrase “I can’t hear myself think.” That’s what I’m talking about. We have to get that noise to quiet down, so we can hear our still small voice inside. That is where we find our answers. There are probably an infinite number of tools to help us move into stillness, and I can help you find many others besides the ones mentioned in this post, but for the sake of your attention and my ability to go on for hours about this topic, we’ll just talk about three fairly simple tools.
Probably the very easiest way to get still is by focusing on the breath. Did your mom ever tell you to stop and take 10 deep breaths before reacting to a situation? I know mine did. On the surface, you might think this practice is just to keep you from saying something you’ll regret or getting caught up in the drama of a situation. That’s certainly part of it. Breathing deeply for even a short time calms the nervous system and does help you respond, rather than react. But, it does something else, too. It quiets your mind and brings you to stillness. When you’re counting those breaths, you can’t really get through those lists running through your head. You’ll either lose track of the lists or the breath. If you’re someone who thinks they can multi-task (it isn’t real, by the way), or counting breaths doesn’t give you enough to do, try thinking “Breathing in, I know I’m breathing in. Breathing out, I know I’m breathing out” with your inhales and exhales. This is a great teaching from Thich Nhat Hanh. The first time I tried it, I was amazed how quickly the lists in my head simply disappeared.
Another way to get still that is pretty simple is to VERY gently trace your thumbprint with your index finger. Yep, just very lightly rub the pad of your index finger over the pad of your thumb, as if you’re tracing your thumbprint. One of my awesome coaches just introduced me to this exercise on a day when I was…well…swirling due to a LOT of change in a super short period of time. That is not my normal energy or state of mind, but I had had enough. I tried it, and within a minute, I felt myself coming back to me. This exercise is great if you are short on time, and it is another one that helps people who think they can’t get still or turn off those lists in their head.
The last tool we’ll talk about today is one that I use before I host a call, attend a yoga class (or start my own practice), or even sit down to write this post. I ask myself “How am I feeling?” Then, I pay attention to how my body is feeling. I notice where I’m tight and try to release those areas, where I’m sore and breathe into those areas, and how I’m breathing. If my breath is shallow, I’ll slow it down using another tool that we’ll talk about another day. I also think about how I’m feeling mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But, to keep it simple, just pay attention to how your body is feeling, and maybe address a few of those challenged areas.
No matter which one of these practices you use, you can’t help but become more still. If you get distracted by one of those lists, that’s okay. You will get distracted. Instead of worry about it, when you do get distracted, just think “that was a distraction” or “that’s not what we’re thinking about right now,” and go right back to the exercise. Over time with practice, you’ll experience fewer distractions. That’s where the magic comes in, and it’s where you will find your answers.
Let me know which ones you try, which ones worked, and which ones just didn’t. We’re all different, so what works well for me might not be the best for you. And, that’s okay. The important thing to remember is that we can all find tools that will move us into stillness and help us find our own answers within.
All my life, no matter what change I’ve experienced, I’ve been able to use journaling to remember who I am, begin to understand what I can learn from this change, and how my experience can help other people going through something similar. Get my free prompts, “Journaling for Answers,” and start finding your own answers within.
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