How do you go about making decisions? Do you do things because you feel you “should”? Do you need other people’s opinions before you decide? Or do you go with what your body tells you?
Most people know about the “gut feeling”. But what about whole body decision making? Life coach Martha Beck calls this her “shackles on, shackles off” approach.
Start by closing your eyes, take a deep breath, and begin to think of a memory or a period of your life that was very unhappy. Focus now on your physical body, where do you feel this memory in your body? Tight chest? Tense jaw? A pit in your stomach? Notice the places in your body that you feel the sensations. This is your shackles on sensation.
Now take a deep breath and let go of that memory and those sensations.
Close your eyes again and begin to think of a happy situation or your favourite memory. What sensations do you feel in your body? Goosebumps? Relaxation? Lightness? Make a note of the sensations you feel and where you feel them in your body. This is your shackles off sensation.
Shackles on refers to feeling trapped, uncomfortable, and constricted. A clear NO from your body. Shackles off is a feeling of freedom and lightness. Or simply, A HELL YES!
The difficulty lies in the decisions that bring up fear. Some decisions aren’t a clear yes or no! The truth is, some of the best yeses for us, scare us the most. So how do you know the difference between shackles on and shackles off? If there’s an underlying feeling of excitement and freedom about the decision that’s your clue it’s a yes! If under the fear is still more fear and dread, it’s pretty clear that’s a no.
Of course we all have some aspects of our lives that are shackles on. Maybe your current job is shackles on because you need to pay your bills while you fund your dream ‘shackles off’ career. Our suffering comes from lack of acceptance, so if this is the case, accepting where you are, while working toward where you want to be can make a huge difference.
The goal is to make as many decisions that are ‘shackles off’ as possible. One step at a time right?