Whole Body Decisions™
Whole Body Decisions™ reference a person's ability to listen not only to their rational brain, but also to their heart and their gut. Many times, our heart and our gut understand information before our brain has the chance to make sense of it. Listening to all three decision-making centers allows for a more holistic understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Considering the signals from your brain, heart, and gut has been shown to be more effective than relying on one method of processing information.
A high score in the Whole Body Decisions™ category indicates a person's well-developed trust in their brain and their senses. It is important to emphasize that people who have honed this skill do not “ignore their brain” or choose feelings over logic. Rather, you understand the importance of all the signals your body is receiving and take them equally into account when decisions need to be made. This results in a masterful ability to make Whole Body Decisions™.
The best decision makers factor not only to the thoughts in their head, but also listen to the signals from their body. A strong mind-body connection is essential for anyone making a decision, personally or professionally, as it opens our perception to a greater wealth of information. In many instances, our heart and our gut pick up information before we’re able to put it into words, but that doesn’t make the information any less valuable. Below are some examples of exercises to improve your ability to make Whole Body Decisions™.
- Focus on different parts of your body and listen to the signals they might be transmitting to you. How are you sitting? Is your body actually comfortable, or have you spent the last couple hours slowly sliding into a posture that was cramping your neck without realizing it? Check in on yourself and fix anything external that may be making your body send you unnecessary negative signals. Carry out your day and check in with yourself every hour or so, taking breaks to stand up, walk around, and re-center as necessary. If you are readjusting your posture and there is still something making your knee twitch, or something isn’t sitting right in your gut, start using those breaks to check in with yourself mentally and emotionally, and dig deep to find what your body is trying to tell you.
- Broaden your vocabulary. Whole Body Decisions™ involve listening to the emotional signals from our heart, and the instinctual signals from our gut. Providing some linguistic clarity to these signals increases their legitimacy, helping us to communicate about how we’re making decisions both to other people and to ourselves. Challenge yourself to provide specificity to your logical thoughts, your emotions, and your physical feelings. Instead of “this is the right thing to do”, “I am sad”, or “my stomach hurts”, expand on what these really mean to you. What makes it the right thing to do – and to whom is it right? Would anyone disagree? What’s a more specific word than sad, and what factors contributed to that emotion? In what way does your stomach hurt, and what are some probable causes? The more we practice labeling our emotions and gut-instincts, the more in tune we are with our bodies, which will open us up to accepting more factors into our decision-making.
- “Learn about your gut. Developing Whole Body Decisions™ requires simultaneously improving your awareness skills at each of the three sources of information: heart, gut, and brain. The next time you feel discomfort in your gut, ask yourself what you were thinking about at that very moment you felt that twinge of discomfort. Also, recall what you were doing. What actions were you taking at that very moment? Over time, you will begin to pinpoint certain thoughts and actions that trigger discomfort in your gut. It is fascinating and very informative to your self-awareness.” A Sixth Sense for Project Management, Tres Roeder.
For more information about how to improve your ability to make Whole Body Decisions™, see A Sixth Sense for Project Management, pg 52.