Inner Aliveness: How to Trust Your Energy When Making Decisions

redwoods in ukiah, CA

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

I can remember exactly where I was when I heard these words from the poet David Whyte. I was walking along Barracks row, near Eastern Market, listening to an OnBeing interview. And I just felt the words shoot through my headphones, straight into my heart. Wow. Was I just given permission to surround myself ONLY with people who make me feel alive? Is that even possible?

Perhaps your boss or your great-uncle-once-removed doesn't fill you with a deep sense of aliveness, that doesn't necessarily mean you cut them out of your life completely (though, if you are truly miserable at your place of work or every family reunion, it's something to consider). Instead, I find these words a powerful reminder that we have an internal barometer that can tell us exactly how we feel about something or someone and exactly what we should do in regards to that thing or person. The trouble is, remembering to listen.

In my interpretation of Mr. Whyte's words, I hear the great reminder that we are destined for big, beautiful, lives. Lives of freedom, joy, and great connection to something larger than ourselves, perhaps even Divine.  In order to do so, however, it means being picky. It means being choosy about how to spend your time, who to spend it with, and what you're willing to let into your life.

One extremely telling way to notice who or what brings you more (or less) alive is to pay attention to your energy levels. Your energy doesn't lie.

Here’s a personal example:

I have a close association with a yoga studio that I deeply cherish in the city. A few months ago, one of the owners (who also happens to be a friend) asked if I’d be interested in taking over social media and marketing for this studio and any future expansion therein. There was even a chance of associating a wellness arm with the studio in the future and working together at corporate wellness events. 

It was an honor to be asked! It also meant more $, more visibility, cultivation of beautiful images, words, and inspiration (all things I love to curate). But as we were discussing this offer and option, I couldn't shake a sudden heaviness in my body. A feeling of exhaustion that just swept over me almost instantly as the conversation began. I did not feel a lightness and a joy in my chest as I thought about this growth opportunity. On the contrary, it felt quite burdensome, and unpleasant.

In that moment, I had (thankfully), the foresight to graciously decline the offer and listen to my powerful shift in energy - my intuition trying to tell me something. This takes practice, patience, and time to cultivate. It's still a work in progress for me and I can site multiple other examples when I did not listen to that energy change and/or that feeling of discomfort, and in retrospect, should have. From my own personal experience, and the words of wisdom I've gleaned from others, here are 3 quick considerations to help you better tune in

  1. Releasing the "shoulds": If you pick up your phone thinking to yourself, gosh I really should call X or I really should reach out to X. Stop right there. WHY the should? Your time, your experiences should be from a place of desire; a place of excitement and want. Should is burdensome. Examine when it’s popping up in your life and see if you can minimize guilt around these 'should' people and things. 
  2. Feelings in the moment: What are you feeling in the midst of this project, decision, dinner party, hang out sesh? Are you feeling happy, energized, interested? Are you distracting yourself constantly with your phone so you don't have to address the fact that you're feeling uncomfortable, unfulfilled, and low energy? Pay attention to those feelings and sensations - they are nuggets of truth and can inform whether or not what you're spending time on and who you're spending time with is actually in your best interest.
  3. Energy upon goodbye: How does it feel as you walk away? I can think of two recent instances where I parted with someone and on the one hand felt absolutely zombie-fied - like I had just been hit with a tranquilizer dart (yes, I'm totally picturing that scene in Old School), and I can remember another recent parting where I was practically skipping down the street with joy. Energy is authentic. Energy is important. Energy connects you with your intuition. Though these meetings and energy shifts may seem innocuous - this is your life. And feeling drained, pooped, and listless is not how I want to spend my time; I think it's safe to say you may agree.

Please note, my hope is not that you shirk all responsibilities in life that don't feel good and immediately go into a cave-bound hermitage but instead that you connect with others and engage in projects and meaningful work that lights you up. My hope is that you tune into your inner voice, your inner wisdom.  Because in doing so, you give others permission to do the same - to follow their own truth, their own joy, and to spread it, like wildfire, throughout the world.

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