I’m a firm believer in the intuition and truth that we get from our bodies. I teach my clients to focus below the chin when making important decisions. For me, the truth lies at the solar plexis. Others find it closer to the heart.
Speaking with my book club the other night about important life decisions, I shared that I have had many decisions in my life that I knew to be true and never questioned. My body told me so and I never waivered. But then there’s a whole other set of decisions where my body doesn’t tell me.
I’ve been mulling over that information, and while in a twisty, long pose in yoga this morning I had an aha moment.
I realized that all of the decisions that I say “I knew for sure. My body told me”—they were all happy decisions. Knowing my husband was the person I should marry. Knowing what schools to attend. What job to accept. Even what house to buy. They felt “right.”
The decisions where I feel less certain are the darker ones. Not the “Hell yes!” life choices, but the firm “No.” The ending of relationships. The creation of boundaries. The times to leave rather than stay. To wait and rest rather than push forward. To quit.
My inner critic has a field day with me when the decisions are about the darker pieces of life. I believe the importance of embracing our shadows. That life is both the sun and the moon. The darkness and the light.
My body DOES tell me lots of information about these darker decisions— but I resist it. I can hear myself say, in a voice that must be a three-year-old version of myself, “But I don’t want to.”
Bravery is easy on the fun side but hell on the dark side. I don’t want to disappoint. Hurt other’s feelings. Give up. Be a quitter. Take the easy way out.
I am learning just how much I resist the tough stuff. I prefer to turn a “no” into a “yes.” If there’s a problem, I will work harder. Dig deeper. Fix it. Taking a brave leap is my superpower.
I see the limits of this strategy as a middle-aged runner. “Push through” was always my motto. These days, pushing harder means an injury. Learning to be softer. To know when to say “Enough” is my work.
NOT stopping, walking away, setting the boundary—it just delays the healing. I believe the Oprah metaphor that the universe throws a pebble at us to notice what we need to do. And then a rock. And eventually it’s a big brick toward our head. And all the while the resistance to these messages are loaded with guilt, grief, doubt.
Being brave means sitting still. Moving through the darkness back into the light. We expend enormous energy trying to stay in the same place, even when it’s time to move on. As with all life coaching work, noticing our blocks is the first step toward choosing new ways to live.
So here’s to the moon and the shadows. May they hold me as much as the sun and the light.

Written by Dr. Dana Mitra

I am a life coach at Coaching By Dana and tenured academic professor at Penn State.

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