Written by, Amy Hedges
Did you just read ‘Make urgent decisions from a place of calm’? You’re probably wondering if I received the memo that it’s 2020. Yes, I did and yes, it’s possible.
To reach a place of calm you’re going to need to dig deep, drown out the noise, and get really f-ing crystal about what is important to YOU. To find your core, to understand the beliefs you hold dear, to live with integrity and authenticity with your inner knowing and higher self. I will guide you through 4 exercises to achieve this.
First, we’ll take a look at why suddenly mundane decisions have become an intense debate of right and wrong and how this is affecting our bodies. We’ll then identify how you can filter out the noise and begin to make urgent decisions calmly, with a clear head and confident heart. Our goal is to remove self-doubt, silence influence, and create a space in which you have peace in your decisions.
How we became ‘only right’ or ‘only wrong’
It seems like there are two types of people in 2020. The ‘live your life, don’t live in fear’ type, and the ‘why risk it, be cautious and follow the rules’ type. It’s kind of like the ‘filler’ up at half a tank’ team, and the ‘I’m gonna coast into the station on E’ team. Except now, the difference is, we generally accept people from the other gas tank team, we get along, co-exist, sometimes even marry from the opposite gas tank team. But not now. Now there is a strong divide, one that no one seems to be able to gap.
Both sides can (almost) agree that we are living through a global pandemic. Both sides can (almost) agree there is a disease out there, unlike anything we’ve ever seen and it is killing people. But beyond that, how we’re living our lives, what we think the government is doing, HOW we think we should proceed as a population, is so vastly different, we can’t even have a conversation or try to understand alternate viewpoints… And not because we’re social distancing.
But get this…BOTH sides are logical. Smart. Critical thinkers. Caring.
And both are RIGHT….wait what?!?!?!
If everyone is right, why is this so hard? Why are we so divided and combative? Why are we being such stubborn, one-sided thinkers?
It’s because we cannot define what’s right and what’s wrong. There is no best choice. And I don’t believe, even when we look back at this time in history, that we will see any more clearly. Looking back we won’t be able to say hindsight is 20/20 because frankly, 2020 was anything but clear.
Science is an evolving resource
I’m a nutritionist. Nutrition has been the only science where two opposing, scientifically proven facts, can both be right and wrong and also accepted by both sides.
Nutritionists have lived with conflicting views about fat-free and full-fat foods, cholesterol, countless diet trends, carbs, organics, and supplementation. We know all of these controversial and opposing views are “right” and we’re kind of OK with it. We understand bio-individuality. We understand that there’s no magic pill, no one size fits all. We have taught our clients to listen to their bodies, eat intuitively, and ignore the latest trends, even when they seem to be scientifically sound.
Other areas of science are NOW experiencing this dissonance and the world can’t handle it! The scientists can’t handle it! It’s creating a rift in our country, and it’s causing battle lines to be drawn. It’s even more difficult to manage because it’s fueled by fear. We’re finding ourselves in this fight-or-flight situation and we all know that is not the space we should be coming from when it’s time to make decisions, or function on a daily basis for any length of time.
Moving forward requires decisions
When we first started quarantine, I moved all of my nutrition counseling client appointments to a virtual platform. The very first day I met with a client, we started the appointment in the usual way and I quickly realized I couldn’t continue. I couldn’t ask her if she was watching her portion sizes, if she was eating fresh veggies and drinking enough water. We ended up talking about how to simply get through the day and make sure she was being gentle with herself. We spent almost 4 months at that stage. That’s what she needed then. But now things are changing and we have to put our non-elastic waistband pants back on, and maybe a bra, and start to function at a higher vibration again.
What I’m hearing from my friends, family, and on the socials, is we need to start moving forward but lack guidance on how. We can’t stay in lockdown forever, but it’s not necessarily safe to go fully back to normal yet. We don’t know what the facts are from the quacks, who to trust or how to navigate these murky, shark-infested waters. We’re seeing the negative effects on our economy, on our mental health and our relationships. We are being called to move forward, perhaps before we’re ready. To quote one of my favorite lines from Eat, Pray Love, “My darling, it is time.”
Normally, I would have a slew of suggestions on how to de-stress and gain mental clarity, how to make goals, get motivated, and be disciplined. (If you’re interested in tips like these, sign up for my free daily Holistic Detox email challenge.) We should have those in our arsenal for everyday stress release and well being. But…none of that works right now. That’s not what we need.
What is going on now…
is. not. normal.
Urgent decisions affect you emotionally and physically
I mentioned before that we’re living with this fight or flight mentality. Fight or flight is governed by our sympathetic nervous system and kicks in during times of acute stress. It causes us to react quickly, automatically, in order to survive. Living in this state for a long period of time can lead to many mental/emotional and physical chronic ailments such as chronic stress, insomnia, heart disease, anxiety, depression, phobias, and high blood pressure. Also, during this heightened state of stress we are unable to make logical, sound decisions, think critically and problem solve.
If the sympathetic nervous system is known as the fight or flight system, the parasympathetic system is referred to as the rest and restore system. How does one move away from the sympathetic reactionary space and into a parasympathetic response space? What we need is to do the opposite of what we have been programmed to do. We need to stop looking toward the future, and making plans, weighing the pros and the cons, worrying about all possible outcomes, and how we’ll manage. All of this worry and rumination can manifest itself as anxiety which clouds our vision and makes us incapable of making decisions at all.
Let’s start the work
The best thing we can do is stop thinking about the future and all of the avenues we could take. Have a little faith in yourself that you’ll rise to any upcoming occasion and you’ll do your THANG. For now, let’s instead think about alignment. The present, the inner work. When we are aligned with our higher self, our inner knowing, and our core beliefs, we can never get it wrong. When we work from a place of conviction and morals we will always make the right decision for ourselves. When we are in alignment we will be adequately equipped to make confident decisions IN THE MOMENT, to feel in our hearts what is right and trust that feeling. Especially now, when there is NO right choice. We just need to make a choice. Make it, own it, sit with it, and figure out how to do your best from that vantage point.
Easier said than done, right?
Exercise 1: Overthinking + Mind/Body Connection.
We know a goal without action is simply a wish, right? In order to make something happen, we must actually DO something about it. This is similar.
In order to discover our integrity and alignment, we mustn’t simply will it to happen or only think about it. Even general meditation, while it’s a great practice, only gets us so far.
We must stop our thinking mind, drop down into our bodies, and solidify our knowing into tangible matter. This is the reason behind making an intention at the beginning of a yoga class. Having an intention is step one. Moving your body in connection with that intention will propel you forward into really acting on it. Not just having the best “intentions” but actually manifesting them.
How do we do this? I have my preferred ways, and they will work for you, but really, it’s whatever the hell you want to do with your body that turns your focus away from your thoughts and moves them into the body. Running may not be the best choice, since usually, runners claim they do their best thinking when they’re running. Try things that require more concentration, or coordination. You will be giving your brain a break from the chatter. Cooking, gardening, puzzles, dancing…all high energy activities, requiring a bit more concentration and coordination, that will help the brain to focus on something other than worry.
Even as I wrote this article, I found myself hitting writing blocks I couldn’t breakthrough. I would close the laptop and turn on an exercise video. More often than not, I would have to press pause on my workout and write down some notes. Ideas would begin to flow when I began to let my body take over. My body held the simple answers, my brain just complicated things.
Exercise 2: From Fight or Flight to Rest and Restore.
Activating the parasympathetic nervous system is another way to turn off the brain and the chatter and deeply relax. People sometimes describe this feeling as being completely present, when they “find their flow” or are simply perfectly content. The concept of time seems to dissolve and our senses are heightened in a beautiful, peaceful way. Doing this is actually quite simple and it feels great, but these are activities we typically forget to include in our daily practice, or they are the first to be thrown to the wayside when we get busy. Some suggestions are:
- Spend time in nature
- Practice dynamic meditation or yoga nidra
- Deep abdominal breathing from the diaphragm
- Repetitive prayer or mantra
- Be playful, laugh and enjoy your hobbies
- Practice yoga, chi kung, or tai chi or other exercises
Exercise 3: Defining Your Non-negotiables.
Non-negotiables are those things we must include in our lives, whether it’s daily, weekly, or simply in general, to make us function at our best. Non-negotiables are also usually simple things we can do, almost habitually and automatically. For example, exercise. Working out is probably my personal number one non-negotiable. Once I get my workout done I’m ready to take on anything in my day. Often these are self-care items that are thrown to the wayside when we get busy or stressed, leading to overall imbalance. This can deplete our energy, destroy our sense of inner peace, and leave us feeling out of control. Think of these items as your strong foundation. When the foundation crumbles everything else will fall with it.
Define your non-negotiable needs and stick to them closely. When faced with decisions, new information, or choices, evaluate the impact on your non-negotiable needs. If the impact is minimal, it might be an option. If the impact is profound, you know it probably isn’t a fit.
Exercise 4: Knowing Your Feeling Heart.
If the non-negotiables were the strong physical foundation, this next exercise will identify your inner compass. The less tangible, more intuitive structure that we use to construct our lives. Here, we’ll look at defining what your core feelings are and creating a plan to have those feelings serve as the decision compass. It’s very much using your intuition but strengthening it with intentional practice. When you know how you feel and you have a strong moral compass, all of those seemingly impossible decisions will feel much less intense and confusing.
Do you remember the episode of Friends when Rachel thought she was pregnant and Phoebe checked the test? Phoebe told her the result was negative and Rachel had an intense emotional response; a feeling of disappointment. Then Phoebe revealed that she had tricked Rachel and the test was actually positive. At that moment, Rachel subconsciously identified how she truly felt about having a baby. She was able to, without a shadow of a doubt, know that she wanted to be a mother and she felt that in her core.
That feeling is WHAT I’m talking about.
This exercise may be the most abstract, yet so important practice to cultivate: Becoming clear on how you feel about certain questions and overall concepts, not the specific scenarios we’re faced with. Don’t come at this exercise from a reactionary way, come at it a little more proactively. Set aside your cerebral mind and your thinking brain, and rather come from an intuitive place using your feeling heart.
For example, don’t ask, “Will I send my children to school?”, instead ask, “I feel most safe when my family is where…?”
Instead of “Should my family and I wear a mask out in public?” Ask instead, “What can I do to keep my family safe and healthy while not harming those around me?”
Pay attention to how you feel when you think of those questions. Journal the answers in a stream of consciousness and see what flows from you into the page without much thought. Bring your awareness to your physical responses when you contemplate these overarching concepts of safety and security. Write them down.
THEN when the specific scenarios rise, when we need to make a decision, we already know where we stand. And then you simply determine where those decisions fall within your already established set of guidelines for living your own life.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Wherever you go, there you are?”
That could be a great sense of comfort for some, while for others it could send you into the corner rocking back and forth, wishing to escape the stress and anxiety from within. That’s the goal here. To get to YOU. You and all of the beautifully imperfect, messy, complicated parts of you. Get to know these parts and why they are so important. They are there for a reason, they make you who you are. Do this without other people looking in or giving their opinions. Get to know these parts of you without watching the news first or seeing what the Governor has to say today. Get to know what makes you tick, what is important to you, and what it feels like to know yourself on that deep, internal level.
When you get to know your inner knowing, your higher self, you will be armed and ready for anything that comes your way. You will be able to make urgent decisions calmly and create action in flawless alignment with your core beliefs. You will be confident that your decision is the right one because you are truly in alignment.
About Amy Hedges:
Amy Hedges is a Nutritionist, Yoga teacher and Reiki Master living in Upstate NY with her husband and three children. Coupling her love of the outdoors and gardening and her passion for natural living, she now offers nutrition coaching that encompasses the mind, body and soul. Amy works virtually with clients from across the country to achieve balance and wellness; focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods, stress reduction and management, and other healthy habits. Contact Amy on Facebook or the Amy Hedges; Integrative Wellness LLC website