Our emotional lives are a patchwork made of beliefs we have internalised and modes of reality we have modeled
Ever get a “hunch” something is not right?
“Gut instinct” is real; it can even be measured, mapped in the body and analysed chemically. We know that differing emotional states cause different sensations inside our body and different signal physical reactions… When we are angry, our heart rate speeds up and our face gets hot, when we are anxious, we feel a little sick and we breathe faster, when we are sad, our heart physically hurts.
What do you feel when you get a “hunch”? Do you act on the feeling? How do you know whether this intuitive decision is the right one? Have you made an intuitive decision that is the wrong one before?
Understanding how we are feeling on the inside is called Interoceptive Awareness and it truly is our internal guidance system – we can be guided by our heart.
We also can be over-sensitive to our feelings, which we see in people who experience pain more than another person or experience fear more than the next person to the point of anxiety. While I was a previous sufferer of crippling anxiety disorder I have actually experienced a low Interoceptive Awareness since childhood. It ultimately manifested in an eating disorder in my teens at a time when a lot of things were out of control in my life. Interestingly enough [coincidentally?] I also have the “fat gene” that stops you recognizing when you’re full up. Later this lack of internal guidance manifested in my experience of my anxiety, where my body would show very clear physical signs of anxiety (heart rate increasing, etc) without my conscious awareness until I was already in a panic attack. My eldest daughter also seems to suffer with this naturally low Interoceptive Awareness. For example, she will not seemingly notice feelings of hunger, pain or even needing the toilet, until the need is so urgent that it’s too late.
So you can see how this internal guidance system and our connection to it affects our positive:
- Perspective taking
- Social understanding
- Flexibility of thought
- Emotional Recognition and regulation
- And use of our Intuition.
In this month’s 20:20:20 Programme we have been focused on Intuition – how we can better connect to it and how we can use it to make the intuitive decisions that take us forward to wherever we want to get to.
“Recent findings show that instincts based in feelings from within our bodies are powerful and useful influences on the way our minds make decisions. The old divide between a thinking brain and an unthinking body is blurring. And despite the word “gut,” that useful instinct goes far beyond our stomach and includes the feelings from our heartbeat, our lungs, muscles and even our immune system, whether we are conscious of it or not. It is the “the dialogue between brain and body.” Ottawa Citizen
So how do we listen to our gut and ensure it’s giving us the right answers?
Let’s think about the biological process.
We know we have five primary sense organs: our sight, our smell, our taste, our touch and our hearing. Within these sense organs are receptors for specific types of stimuli that are connected to our body’s nervous system, which then sends data to our brain and provides us with useful information about our physical/external world. I.e. we feel an itch, we scratch, right? However, if we feel a threat, our nervous system will also respond appropriately; whether this reaction is appropriate or not (read more here to understand better what I mean and how this is damaging).
But what about our essential/internal world? What about our connection to our inner voice, or even, our higher self?
This is where we meet our sixth and seventh sense.
We are still using our Interoceptive Awareness, but this is where we experience the “hunch” of intuition, déjà vu, or that crazy feeling of a past life parallel. Conditioning makes us question these feelings, even distrust them. We spend 10+ years at school learning to look for cause and effect because there is always a theory or a precedent or a formula/rule. Where do you think we get the belief so strong that “it’s just a coincidence?”
When we begin to dip our toes into the world of vibrational energy and Law of Attraction, our senses become an interface between the dense physical world and the non-physical world of pure consciousness. Our sixth sense utilizes our feeling body to inform us when our intuition is on or off target, as long as that connection to our consciousness is strong, and if it is our seventh sense, our purest knowing will embody in us the impenetrable trust of Flow when we are in it.
When we are children, before we go to school and before we create beliefs or take on beliefs and conditioning that limits us and disconnects us from ourselves, we are in a state of open wonderment. And what I like to help my clients rediscover is that the same wonderment is still within us if we remove the upper limits that block us from it, and if we learn to become aware of the feelings we have, what they are telling us and can be sure they are not being shaped by beliefs that will not serve us.
So where do we start with that “gut feeling” that we can’t quite put into words?
We have to start with our belief systems that guide our ultimate self belief and how we show up in our life. This is something I go very deeply into in my From Fear to Fierce course.
We can also use techniques that I am going to connect you to below that tune up our Interoceptive Awareness, so that it’s in good nick; not over or under-serving us. If we think about the Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs, if we fulfil at the bottom we are more likely to reach our full potential. Like the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”
We are all busy in life and serving the needs as others as well as ourselves. Some of us are particularly driven and take on more than we can chew, but if we don’t notice our own needs stacking up, our proverbial cup tips over, so to speak. And we can’t hear our inner voice if it is drowned out by other noise. (If this resonates, you might benefit from my mini course to help quiet your mind, so your soul can speak.)
So, while our Interoceptive Awareness system is the least known and least understood sensory system and is generally thought to control our autonomic functions like blinking, breathing, and flinching. It’s also how we recognise pain, hunger, thirst, needing the toilet, our emotions and more. Sensory receptors send neural signals to the insula deep inside the brain and it is here that an important process is undertaken to decode the message and alert us to the changes in our body’s state.
Any imbalance in our body isn’t healthy. If we think about emotion, being angry causes our heart rate to rise, the blood to rush to our face and then we often fire off at somebody and regret it. Sadness causes our heart to physically hurt and this can cause us hide away and wallow, go off our food and disconnect.
We are empowered to act in a way that is positive at this decoding stage of the process. We can choose to feel the emotion so that it is processed, not repressed. We can meet our needs and we can listen to the important messages of our inner voice and be guided by our intuition when it comes to the choices we make and the directions we go.
Different sensations inside the body allow us to understand how we’re feeling and make the best decision based on that fact.
To access your FREE Interoceptive Awareness Fine Tuning Tool, enter your email below and I’ll send it right out! Leave me a comment, if you like, about your experience at the moment. There may be other free tools that are helpful
In your high vibes, happiness & healthiness,
CW x x x