"Think, think, think"
Sometimes I feel like Winnie the Pooh. One arm wrapped around my body with my other hand tapping my head saying, "Think, think, think."
This is of course is all figurative. In reality, I tend to be sitting in front of my computer willfully forcing myself to come up with a solution or an idea to no avail. Instead of tapping my head I'm pounding on the keyboard. Usually I'm going from one website to the next in search of some panacea (or more realistically procrastinating on the real work I need to do).
This is what happens when I try to force my rational mind to perform for me - a trait I'm exceptionally skilled at (like you probably are too).
"The intuitive mind is a gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." This is one of my favorite Einstein quotes.
Growing up, my family placed a lot of value on intelligence. "People are stupid" has long been one of my Mom's go-to catchphrases.
If a kid made fun of me at school, "People are stupid." If someone cut her off while driving, "People are stupid." If a friend's parents bought them expensive designer jeans, which I coveted, "People are stupid."
It's no wonder that I too honored the faithful servant, establishing habits of willfully thinking my way through every problem I encountered. And for years, that worked for me. I finished college a semester early. I got a research assistantship to complete my master's degree without accruing debt. I secured gainful employment.
And then, over ten years ago, I started my own business. I had a simple goal in mind - to earn a living while be true to myself. At the same time, I realized, I was a misfit so the formulaic approach to building a business was never going to work for me.
I continued to go into hyper-rational mode every time I had to make a business decision. But my performative mind was disappointing me time and time again. While things appeared "good" on paper, they didn't play out as penned.
I did, of course, what any intelligent person would do - I doubled down on my rational thinking.
Something interesting happened as a result - I fell into terrible despair while developing chronic health problems. It was as though the universe were shouting at me through a megaphone while flashing a huge neon sign for added effect, "you've got to change the way you're doing things, Ariana!"
If there's one gift in dealing with chronic health problems, it's that you learn to listen to your body better. I could no longer push through fatigue, nor consume inordinate amounts of coffee nor live on carbs. Not without paying the price.
So, I started listening to my body's needs in small and subtle ways. I noticed the importance sleep played in my energy levels. Or the ways different foods made me feel. Or how exercising helped me to focus.
As a result of listening to my body, I developed new habits for getting out of my head and into my body. When I notice myself scrolling online, feeling stuck, doubting myself, questioning my decisions, wondering what's wrong with me, or feeling unsure, lost, upset, disappointed, or hurt. I no longer try to think my way to a solution. Instead, I recognize those feelings as signs I need to reconnect with my body.
I might take a deep, heart-focused breath. Or step away from my computer to go for a walk. Or do some yoga. Or pet my cat. Or play with my kid. Or listen to music and have a dance party. Or weed the garden.
What's amazing is that when I get out of my head and into my body, I get the insight, ideas or answers I need. They aren't always the things I want to hear - my rational mind still likes it when things are wrapped up in a pretty bow. But they are comforting nonetheless because I always know enough to take the next step.
By getting out of my head and into my body, I don't eliminate the things that scare me or cause doubt or make me freeze up. They are still there. But they no longer have a stronghold on me. Connecting with my body helps me listen to my intuitive mind. When I'm fully present in my body, I move beyond the perceived safety of my rational mind.
While a part of me still loves the image of Winnie the Pooh's focused determination to, "Think, think think." Experience has taught me there's value in embracing Tigger's insatiable need to bounce. That is to say to get out of my head and into my body so my thinking takes on the quality of a crystal clear meandering mountain stream devoid of the clutter, chaos or need for a false sense of control my rational mind so desperately craves.
Are you stuck in a loop over-rationalizing your work or life? Are you ready to listen to the gift of your intuitive mind? Journaling is a proven way to strengthen the conduit between your intuitive mind and the thoughts and ideas you act on. End the year strong by coming to a special Quarterly Planning Journal Jam, September 29th. More information and registration is available here.