Self

2 Ways Embodiment Helps You Make Tough Decisions

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woman meditating on mountain

Life is full of tough choices. Thankfully, your body is a powerful guide to finding the best option for you.

Maybe you're facing a tough choice in your personal life, like whether to trust your husband who plans to embark on his fourth overnight business trip with an attractive, intelligent female coworker.

Or, maybe it's a professional decision such as a job offer that meets every one of your personal criteria, yet the proposed salary falls considerably short of your financial expectations.

These types of choices are typically ladened with conflicting and often befuddling thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. That's what makes them so tough.

Fortunately, you have innate embodied resources you can draw upon at times such as these.

RELATED: Why Embodiment Is Important For Self-Awareness

What is embodiment?

Embodiment refers to the process through which something becomes part of a living body through incorporation and incarnation.

Humans start out as little sensory-motor beings from the womb to about age two. It's how humans first experience being alive. Every new experience is shaped by this innate sensory-motor foundation.

For example, all your thoughts, beliefs, and habitual behaviors are built on this foundation. In fact, whether you imagine or actually physically do something, you engage your complex and interactive sensory-motor system in the process.

In sum, your embodiment is fundamental to how you experience, internalize, reflect, remember, form intentions, and act.

How We Typically Make Tough Decisions

Everyone has one or more methods they use to make a difficult decision. But the most common ones can essentially be grouped into just four decision-making approaches:

1. Ruminate about the options, potential consequences, and even postpone making a decision.

Unfortunately, the ruminator will likely consume considerable mental, emotional, and physical energy in the process. Oftentimes, stress and anxiety are involved.

2. Retrieve advice from a trusted and respected person.

Such as a spouse, friend, doctor, or lawyer, or a trusted information source such as a credible internet site, or social media group.

The advice-seeker might take what the trusted source says at face value, which will likely be an inauthentic choice. Alternatively, they can weigh the advice against other information, which in effect takes them to the first method: rumination.

3. Do a cost-benefit analysis by listing the costs and benefits of each option, including doing nothing at all.

The assumption is that by working through the process the best solution will reveal itself. Unfortunately, these calculations are nearly impossible to fully quantify and compare. This method often intentionally or unintentionally defaults to the fourth method.

4. Go with the gut or intuition.

For some, this is a reliable method. But for many, it's a gamble.

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There is another less popular but, nevertheless, very helpful way. It entails relying on your unique embodiment for a clear, creative, holistic, and authentic answer.

RELATED: 4 Questions You Must Ask Before Making Any Hard Decision

2 Ways Embodiment Helps You Make the Best Choice for You

1. Managing stress in the present moment for better decision-making

Challenging decisions can induce a great deal of stress and anxiety. Beyond a certain threshold, your autonomic nervous system's (ANS) can shift into a survival or “fight/flight/freeze” stress response. These states essentially represent the ways you might embody stress, fear, and anxiety.

When you experience it yourself, you may notice that your respiratory rate changes, your heart beats faster, or your hearing sharpens. These are all innate physiological (embodied) responses to stress. In addition, you might notice that it's difficult to productively engage with others, even those who want to help you.

But are you aware of how your mind reacts to stress? For example, how it becomes hyper-focused, inflexible, and defaults to unoriginal repetitive thinking.

Both stress and anxiety most definitely hinder reflection, creativity, and complex problem-solving. This is clearly not the state you want to be in when facing a tough choice.

Put another way, how you embody the situation will significantly affect your ability to identify the right option to secure the best possible outcome for you. Your capacity to regulate (rebalance) your ANS will determine if you can shift from a disorganized survival mode to a centered, present, and empowered mindset.

Fortunately, there are numerous breathing techniques and other quick practices you can use to encourage that shift (see Debs Dana). And, best of all, you can learn how to use them on the fly right when you need them most.

2. Tapping into the inside

At every single moment in time, your body expresses your holistic state of being: mind, body, and spirit. If you turn inward and pay attention, it will reveal the whole sense of how you're experiencing your life at that moment. In fact, it will also tell you how your whole self perceives the different options involved in a difficult choice.

You access this rich embodied information simply by turning your attention toward the inside of your body. Using your ability to sense rather than think, notice subtle sensations and what is trying to get your attention.

The key is to be open, compassionate, curious, and nonjudgmental. Through the process of turning inward, you become aware of how your whole self embodies each distinct potential decision outcome.

You'll find some options are associated with sensations that possess qualities of restriction and discomfort and others of openness and scintillation. In other words, your body tells you what you want to avoid or embrace, respectfully.

So, the next time you have a difficult decision to make, take a moment to regulate your stress level. Then turn toward your embodied wisdom and listen. The right choice will reveal itself to you.

RELATED: Decisions Are Tough — But Here Are 4 Ways To Always Make The Right One For Yourself

Patricia Bonnard, PhD, ACC is a leadership and life coach and energy healer. She blends conventional coaching, embodied practices, and energy healing in ways that best suit the needs and preferences of her clients. She offers virtual and in-person sessions and workshops to workplaces and the general public. See more and contact her at Starchaser Integrated Coaching and Energy Healing.

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