I will admit that when I first heard the news about the pandemic outbreak, I didn’t think it would really impact me all that much.
(I mean, as long as I didn’t get COVID. And as long as no one I cared about got COVID.)
What I’m really getting at is that I already work from home and have for many years now. I am comfortable and fairly self-contained and I stay very, very busy.
So I wasn’t worried about outside changes due to sheltering in place, quarantine, even restricted travel (although I was quite bummed when my usual spring camping trip got cancelled).
What I didn’t foresee, however, is how much the pandemic was about to change me on the inside.
It was like this electrifying wake-up call to start taking my relationship with me very, very seriously.
Suddenly, when me spending time with me became my primary source of companionship, it was no longer good enough to tolerate my own company. I wanted to really like – heck, love – myself.
That desire, that drive, sent me back to school.
Since February I have started working with not one but two different life and business coaches. I have signed up for not one, not two, but three membership communities that I visit nearly daily to study and learn and connect.
My willingness to show up for myself in every way – physically, mentally, emotionally, in spirit – has deepened and solidified.
And while it is challenging to put it into practice right at the moment, I believe my willingness to show up for others in those same ways is deepening as well.
I have also noticed I am putting my daily allotment of energy to much better use, working on heart projects as well as rent-earning projects and shocking myself by saying “yes” to new creative challenges and opportunities that scare me at least as much as they excite me.
(For the record, normally I prefer a ratio where the excitement factor far outweighs the fear factor.)
The reason I share all of this here is because a lot of the credit for this goes to one of my teachers and mentors, Sonia Choquette.
She has this wonderful, oh-so-simple teaching for how to navigate through times of uncertainty, stress, change, opportunity and unknowns.
She teaches this in the form of a little game called “What Does Your Heart Say?”
I will do my best to explain it here, because since we are all going through some really changeable, uncertain times, maybe this tool will help you too.
Here is how “What Does Your Heart Say?” works (or at least how I like to use it).
1. Identify the issue you need guidance or direction about.
Maybe you have two options and don’t know which one to choose. Or perhaps you wake up and don’t know what to do first.
Or it could be you get an opportunity or invitation and you feel like you are “on the fence” about whether it is a good fit for you right now.
Another scenario could be that you are feeling a certain way – perhaps sad or angry or anxious – and you don’t know what to do about it.
Whatever it is, the first step is to get clear about what is bugging you or what life is presenting to you that you aren’t sure what to do with.
2. Take a few big deep breaths.
This is very helpful to do even in step 1 above if you are having trouble putting the issue or question or uncertainty into words.
3. Get grounded in whatever way works for you.
This might mean sitting in a chair and placing both feet on the floor. Or it could mean laying down and closing your eyes. Or you might prefer to go for a walk and let the energy move inside you.
4. Place your hand on your heart and think of the question/issue/uncertainty.
It can help to say it out loud or form a very clear mental picture of what is going on with you.
5. Ask yourself “What Does My Heart Say?” then quietly wait and observe for a moment or few.
Try not to get fidgety here. If you are very anxious you may feel your mind jumping in to try to provide you with a ready answer that “makes sense.”
But as Sonia teaches, “What Does My Heart Say?” is not about what makes sense, per se.
Rather, it is about what feels right in your heart or gut or throat or wherever you get your personal “gut feelings” (I get them in my gut most of the time which is why I call them that).
When you ask yourself “What Does My Heart Say?” wait until you feel a little lightness, a lift, a bright burst of joy, a release of anything that feels like a “should” and this is likely your heart replying to your question.
6. If you are still not sure or your head is fighting for control, do this next.
Sometimes my head will step in and really start lobbying for its point of view. The truth is, my head actually loves me very much, at least in the sense that it wants to stay alive and connected to my body and survive.
This is usually why my head will start arguing with me if my heart/gut disagrees with its guidance.
And sometimes I am soooooo attached to seeing a situation or opportunity or obstacle from the head’s point of view that I side with it against my heart.
So this is when you want to stop and let your head speak its truth.
You want to stop and ask “What Does My Head Say?”
Put your hand on your head and speak those words and then say what your head has to say. Let it be heard.
7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 again.
Once your head has had its say and feels heard (and perhaps even supported or backed up by you), it is time to ask your heart to weigh in one more time.
So just quietly place your hand back on your heart again and ask “What Does My Heart Say?”
Then wait again to hear your heart’s reply.
Again, often I can feel my heart’s reply when I feel a sense of relief – like what it feels like to be honest at last after lying, lying, lying, lying, lying to myself.
Most of us know that feeling pretty well.
It feels like becoming willing to let the chips fall where they may, let the consequences be whatever they are, because we can’t stand to lie to ourselves or strong-arm ourselves to settle for what “makes sense” for one more second.
When you feel that level of truth-telling brave rise up inside you, you will know you just got a heart-reply.
Well, I hope this exercise is helpful for you. I promise Sonia teaches it a lot better than I do, but perhaps you don’t know Sonia and you know me and you are reading this right now and maybe you are needing some help with a thorny issue or question you are facing.
If you try this and it helps you, I’d love to hear from you. If you have other things that help you when you are trying to “get right” with yourself so to speak, please feel free to post those here as well.
With great respect and love,