When To Listen To Your Heart And Not Your Head

This week's guest article comes from my friend, Linda Berger. I really love her message! A big piece of my work with clients is learning to listen to our bodies. Linda beautifully expands on that theme, urging us to consider what "listening to our hearts" looks like. Enjoy!

We live in a culture that prizes the rational above all else. Everyone has been warned away from making a "rash" decision at one time or another. People tell us we need to think things through, especially when it comes to making the big decisions in our lives, but is that really true?

According to a recent study conducted at the University of Otago in New Zealand, you might be better off making decisions with your heart. The study asked two groups of participants to rate sports or predict the outcome of a game. Those who did so quickly, using only their intuition, did so with significantly better accuracy than those who were asked to use guidelines and statistics.

The same can be said of almost all aspects of our life. Although we may be tempted to make the rational decision and go with the "safe" choice, is it really so safe? We might end up getting a steady paycheck to do a job we hate. Or we could end up with the nice guy who just isn't right for us.

Life is made up of constant changes, and those changes can often leave us feeling lost. We don't know how we got here or where to go next. The truth is we probably do know where to go next, we're just afraid to admit it.

We often find ourselves stuck because we spent too much time listening to our heads and not enough time listening to our hearts. We can become confused or disoriented when things don't go the way we thought they would, but that's when it's more important than ever to listen to your heart.

Our hearts always knows what we should do next. We just have to listen to them.

But listening to our hearts can be hard when there are a million voices clamoring for us to do the "sensible" thing. Many of us have been taught from a very young age to make choices based on reason, rather than emotions. Undoing all that work isn't always easy, but it can reap rewards we could never attain by listening to your head.

Retraining ourselves to prioritize our heart over our head can be very scary. The heart encourages us to take risks, which, by definition, have the potential to turn out very badly. But the heart also knows that if we never take risks, we'll never reach our truest potential and find out what could be.

It's never too late to let go of bad habits and follow our dreams. Regardless of our current career, relationship status, or whether we have kids, there's always time for us to live the life we always wanted.

I work with my clients to help them realize what it is they truly want to get out of life and how they can get there. By letting go of our fear and the pull to do what we "should" do, we can open ourselves to the fulfilling lives we were always meant to have. If you're ready to let go of what isn't working, check out my "Language of the Heart" workshop, where I teach clients in a group setting how to open up to what their heart is trying to tell them.

Linda Berger is known as Coach Linda Berger -Women's Transformation Strategist helping women REDEFINE, RENEW, and RELAUNCH into more authentic living both personally and professionally.

Her coaching work and classes offer women empowering tools to identify and define their needs and desires, increase self-awareness, and discover hidden untapped potential. Together they create a strategic step-by-step plan to ensure a successful relaunch into their next chapter of life.

And she is also known as: Linda Berger -Chicago-based International Akashic Record Teacher and Certified Consultant. She is known as the ‘Heart Teacher’ as her work in the Akashic Records is well-rooted-in the heart -often causing spontaneous healing.

Empowering Resources, Programs, and Products go to www.coachlindaberger.com. 

You’re as busy as you choose to be

The standard response to “How’s it going?,” has now become “I’m crazy busy!”  Or variations on the theme.

And it’s true.

If you think about it, this is an odd state of affairs.  For over a century, much of our technology development has been in labor-saving devices.  This has resulted in a large number of areas where we no longer invest much time or effort.  Your great-grandmother might have spent a couple of hours every day preparing dinner, now we just zap something in the microwave.

So why are we so busy?

Because we choose to be.

When I was growing up, a significant amount of my after-school time was unstructured.  Only in high school did I start having regular obligations like music lessons.  So one source of stress is all of the additional obligations we’ve added for ourselves and our families.

Another source is our shift towards “a good life” being represented by what we own.  The niftiest gadgets, amazing vehicles, and larger houses.  I’m glad to see that many in younger generations are now questioning this, realizing that possession of STUFF doesn’t actually impact quality of life as much as we think.

When you’re acquiring stuff, that puts stress on your finances.  After all, the vast majority of this stuff we didn’t create ourselves, we had to go out and buy it.

Which leads to multiple income earners, and the rat race toward higher pay.

Here’s an exercise I sometimes do with my clients:  Imagine that your life constraints change by a huge amount.

  • Instead of working just 50 hours a week, your boss demands 100.
  • You have a heart attack or auto accident and are taken out of commission for six months.
  • Your new child requires much more of your time than average.

Your first reaction, of course, is shock and despair.  As it should be; these are huge events.  But realize that this is just a mental exercise, and its purpose is to give us space to think calmly about the Big Picture.

This is the same kind of thing which happens with someone who has a near death experience.  Often they’ll come through it realizing that they’ve focused too much on money, and too little on relationships.  They find a whole bunch of things which can be eliminated from their life because activities and possessions don’t hold the importance they once had.

So what changes might you make in these circumstances?

  • You’d tell your boss to take a hike, that no job is worth ruining your life for.
  • You’d work on changing careers to something which gives you energy rather than destroys it.
  • You’d cut out all kinds of obligations so you can focus on your health and sanity.
  • You’d put yourself on a strict budget and NOT get that new TV just because it’s cool and five inches larger.
  • You’d restructure your life around health and family and spiritual nourishment.

These are big changes, the ones which could make a huge difference.

Take a deep breath, think calmly, then move forward with a new clarity on what’s REALLY important in your life.  Otherwise you’ll just continue to be crazy busy until you keel over.

Carl Dierschow is a Small Fish Business Coach located in Colorado.  You can connect with him at www.smallfish.us andwww.valuesbased.biz.

Pain as a Teacher

“There is no consciousness without pain”

- C.G. Jung

I’d like to make an argument for pain and darkness as a requirement for enlightenment…

Wait what? 

How can we shift our thoughts about pain from avoidance to gratitude? I invite you to try looking at your irritating symptom, broken heart, depression, sprained ankle, etc as a gift. Perhaps the pain is a red flag signifying an imbalance that needs to be addressed. Perhaps our pain is the wisest teacher. 

Pain is a complex and subjective phenomenon, therefore an adequate definition is difficult to put to words. In this article, I’d like to address three categories in which we experience pain and describe five levels of it’s increasing intensity.

Level 1 - PRESSURE

You can feel it’s weight, but it doesn’t hurt yet.
Category - Example:

  1. External or Physical - Brushing up against a wall
  2. Internal or Chemical - Feeling bloated
  3. Mental or Emotional - Rapidly approaching deadlines

Level 2 - ACHE

A dull but nagging discomfort. You feel noticeably not yourself, but you usually try to push through and keep going.
Category - Example:

  1. External or Physical - Muscle soreness
  2. Internal or Chemical - Stomach aches
  3. Mental or Emotional - Being home sick

Level 3 - PAIN

A wake up call. The signal now refuses to be ignored and you’re extremely uncomfortable. Action must be taken: address the underlying reason for the pain OR create a compensation pattern (a limp) to avoid the pain.
Category - Example:

  1. External or Physical - A broken leg
  2. Internal or Chemical - Severe Constipation
  3. Mental or Emotional - Divorce

Level 4 - TICKLISH

Being tickled doesn't really feel good; your nervous system is in hysterics. Ticklish is the oscillation from “pain” and “no pain”. It’s a dissociation.
Category - Example:

  1. External or Physical - Involuntary muscle twitching
  2. Internal or Chemical - Anxiety
  3. Mental or Emotional - Laughing at trauma 

Level 5 - NUMB

Becoming numb is our highest level of pain. The trauma has become so great that the pain signal has been completely shut off.
Category - Example:

  1. External/Physical - The physiological shock response
  2. Internal/Chemical - Over-medication
  3. Mental/Emotional - Ignoring or blacking out traumatic memories

Why Should You Care?

Each level is an important survival mechanism.  Pain protects us. However, each level can progress to the next in severity if ignored long enough.  Temporarily relieving the pain is important as well, but the situation can become more dangerous if we continue to avoid the pain. Not addressing the root cause can permanently alter healthy function.

Examples:

  • External or Physical: A limp will naturally developed after you break a leg. In this case, the limp is temporarily necessary for daily mobility. However, the new faulty motor pattern can become embedded in your brain. If the dysfunctional pattern is not retrained, it will cause further problems due to the long-term abnormal compensations- ie. Back spasms, neck pain, migraines, etc. 
  • Internal or Chemical: A busy person self-medicates their abdominal gas and bloating for years. Over time, it can escalate into severe stomach pain and/or a very irritable bowel. If the underlying dysfunction is not addressed it will cause further problems due to the long-term abnormal compensations- ie. weight gain, infections, autoimmune disease, etc.
  • Mental or Emotional: A person may not feel comfortable opening up to someone new after a recent divorce. That’s ok in the short term, but further down the road, social isolation can develop into a deep unshakable sadness. This dysfunctional pattern is like an emotional limp. If the underlying issues around self worth are not addressed, it can cause further problems due to the long-term abnormal compensations- ie. Relationship sabotage, substance abuse, depression, etc.

What To Do About It?

If you're having a hard time pulling yourself out of the pain and/or darkness, ask for help. WE ALL NEED EACH OTHER! We recover faster and more completely when we’re coached through the levels of pain, by someone who’s been there before us. With education and motivation from talented Teachers, Physical Therapists, Nutritionists, Personal Trainers, Doctors, Coaches, Mentors etc. we can learn how to “listen to our bodies”, restore ourselves to health and share our story of healing with others. 

I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information is helpful!

-Casey Shivers

I was told not to do this...

I was told not to do this...
But I'm doing it anyway.

I apologize if you were wanting to watch the last encore of my free class - I canceled it…  Because I can just GIVE you the actual recording. Watch it whenever you want - or don’t!

I believe that good stuff and needs to be available for consumption and feedback. This is how we change the world. Watch the full version of "8 Keys to Radically Transform Your Health and Body...Without Dieting (seriously!)" at your earliest convenience. 

I hope you get a lot of value from it. If you do, great - Share it! If you don't - send it to someone who cares :) Either way let me know what you think, so that I can bring you more of what you want to learn about.

-Casey Shivers

Forget about your goals...

Forget about setting goals...

Focus on the system!


*****Since I'm currently spending most of my time prepping for the upcoming free class (see the bottom of this newsletter for details), I've put the interviews on hold for a bit. Don't fret! The popular interviews will be coming back soon :) Instead, this week I'm showcasing some free education written by habit formation expert, James Clear. Enjoy!*****

We all have things that we want to achieve in our lives — getting into the better shape, building a successful business, raising a wonderful family, writing a best-selling book, winning a championship, and so on.

And for most of us, the path to those things starts by setting a specific and actionable goal. At least, this is how I approached my life until recently. I would set goals for classes I took, for weights that I wanted to lift in the gym, and for clients I wanted in my business.

What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things.

It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems. 

Let me explain.

The Difference Between Goals and Systems

  • If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
  • If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.

Now for the really interesting question:

If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?

For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results?

I think you would. 

As an example, I just added up the total word count for the articles I’ve written this year. (You can see them all here.) In the last 12 months, I’ve written over 115,000 words. The typical book is about 50,000 to 60,000 words, so I have written enough to fill two books this year.

All of this is such a surprise because I never set a goal for my writing. I didn’t measure my progress in relation to some benchmark. I never set a word count goal for any particular article. I never said, “I want to write two books this year.”

What I did focus on was writing one article every Monday and Thursday. And after sticking to that schedule for 11 months, the result was 115,000 words. I focused on my system and the process of doing the work. In the end, I enjoyed the same (or perhaps better) results.

Let’s talk about three more reasons why you should focus on systems instead of goals.

1. Goals reduce your current happiness.

When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”

The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.”

SOLUTION: Commit to a process, not a goal.

Choosing a goal puts a huge burden on your shoulders. Can you imagine if I had made it my goal to write two books this year? Just writing that sentence stresses me out.

But we do this to ourselves all the time. We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life-changing goals.

When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.

2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.

You might think your goal will keep you motivated over the long-term, but that’s not always true.

Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many people will work hard for months, but as soon as they finish the race, they stop training. Their goal was to finish the half-marathon and now that they have completed it, that goal is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?

This can create a type of “yo-yo effect” where people go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one. This type of cycle makes it difficult to build upon your progress for the long-term.

SOLUTION: Release the need for immediate results.

I was training at the gym last week and I was doing my second-to-last set of clean and jerks. When I hit that rep, I felt a small twinge in my leg. It wasn’t painful or an injury, just a sign of fatigue near the end of my workout. For a minute or two, I thought about doing my final set. Then, I reminded myself that I plan to do this for the rest of my life and decided to call it a day.

In a situation like the one above, a goal-based mentality will tell you to finish the workout and reach your goal. After all, if you set a goal and you don’t reach it, then you feel like a failure.

But with a systems-based mentality, I had no trouble moving on. Systems-based thinking is never about hitting a particular number, it’s about sticking to the process and not missing workouts.

Of course, I know that if I never miss a workout, then I will lift bigger weights in the long-run. And that’s why systems are more valuable than goals. Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process. In the end, process always wins.

3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over.

You can’t predict the future. (I know, shocking.) 

But every time we set a goal, we try to do it. We try to plan out where we will be and when we will make it there. We try to predict how quickly we can make progress, even though we have no idea what circumstances or situations will arise along the way.

SOLUTION: Build feedback loops.

Each Friday, I spend 15 minutes filling out a small spreadsheet with the most critical metrics for my business. For example, in one column I calculate the conversion rate (the percentage of website visitors that join my free email newsletter each week). I rarely think about this number, but checking that column each week provides a feedback loop that tells me if I’m doing things right. When that number drops, I know that I need to send high quality traffic to my site.

Feedback loops are important for building good systems because they allow you to keep track of many different pieces without feeling the pressure to predict what is going to happen with everything. Forget about predicting the future and build a system that can signal when you need to make adjustments.

Fall In Love With Systems

None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I’ve found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.

No matter the question, community is the answer.

A wise friend gave me the above advice as I was first starting my Integrative Health Coaching business. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything more true in my life. Asking for and receiving help can be difficult, but I've become so much stronger because of the family, friends, teachers, mentors and coaches giving me a leg up along the way. I would be nothing without my community - Pssst... That includes you! 

...and I am so grateful for you.

Recently my community got a little bigger and A LOT stronger with the addition of Charley Cropley. Charley is a Naturopathic Doctor who has been practicing, teaching and writing about self-healing for over 30 years. He is truly a sage, a thoughtful teacher and an expert in the field of natural medicine. At 62 yrs old, Charley is a brilliant result of the decades of practicing what he preaches.

In this interview, Charley shares a personal story of self-healing. I hope you watch this video twice, because of what he says about listening to pain, the process of aging, and his hope for the future of natural medicine are all priceless pearls of universal truth. Talking with Charley Cropley has positively influenced the rest of my life. I know listening to this conversation will do the same for you. Enjoy!

I can't hear you...

You guys, I've got to be honest... I get incredibly nervous before these interviews. Public speaking has always been a big fear of mine. I give workshops pretty frequently and every single time I have contemplated not showing up at all. I think, "no one wants to hear what I have to say anyway." BUT I WANT TO BE THE KIND OF GIRL WHO SHOWS UP, so I do it anyway and good things usually happen. Steven Pressfeild discusses this fear of taking action in his amazing book the "War of Art":

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.

Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. 

 

Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That's why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no Resistance.” 

If you enjoyed that quote you will love this interview with Debbie Sipowicz from creativelyempowered.com. Debbie is a role model in the growing movement of women in leadership. Heck yeah! If you have something to say, watch this interview and learn how to face your fear. Be seen. Be heard. Life is short and what you have to say is important. We're all waiting to hear you - no pressure :)

"Listen to your body"

WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!

Just listen to your body... This little nugget of wisdom is advised in all forms of exercise, choosing the right foods for your body, resting when you’re sick, rehabbing a shoulder injury, meditation, etc.  It must be pretty important, but how can we actually do this? I didn’t know either, so I asked around. 

Below is the best answer I’ve gotten so far! This week’s conversation is with Lily Calfee from IdealNourishment.com. Lily helps women heal their relationship with food and their bodies. She is a gifted listener and healer.

Lily is truly a sage in the making. I am so honored to finally air this interview. Her gentle spirit coupled with her mind-blowing perception will leave you better off than how you came. Do yourself a favor and watch this short but very sweet conversation with Lily Calfee. 

Enjoy!