Hiking with a dear friend last week, she told me she’d been asked to be on the board of a non-profit by someone at work.
It was an honor to be invited.
And yet, after learning more about the opportunity, she had an awful sinking feeling in her stomach when she thought about it.
It was a big financial commitment and while she cared about the mission, there are other things she’s even more passionate about changing in the world.
This friend said; “Vanessa, I read your blog about listening to our bodies, and it was so true! My body just felt awful whenever I thought about this opportunity.”
After listening to that sinking feeling in her stomach, she said no to the invitation.
She felt guilty about saying no and was dreading telling her colleague at work.
And here’s the interesting part…
When she did finally say no, the bad feeling in her gut went away immediately. She felt better instantly.
She couldn’t believe it!
And, even more fascinating, she noticed that while she still felt sheepish around her colleague when she thought about turning down the invitation, her body felt just fine.
Her body didn’t lie. And it didn’t get caught in mental stories about guilt.
As we were talking about this, I thought back to times when I’ve felt guilty. And I realized something – my body often feels perfectly fine in these situations!
Yes, I’ve felt shame in my body on a physical level. And If I’ve done something I know is wrong and felt genuine guilt, I have also felt that in my body on a physical level.
But, when I’ve concocted a story in my head about why I should feel guilty, my body usually feels completely fine!
For example, last week was my daughter’s spring break. My husband recently started a new job and didn’t take any vacation. I took a couple days off to be with our kids. I also booked a day for myself to go on a long hike and spend time at my favorite spa getting a massage and soaking in a heated pool.
I’d been working a lot the past two weeks for my upcoming CWYL program and I’d also hosted a big constellation event the week prior, and I really needed a day to replenish myself.
I talked to other friends who were taking their kids somewhere fun for spring break, and I felt a bit guilty about not taking the whole week to be with my kids. And I also felt guilty taking a day for myself.
As my friend and I were talking on this hike, I realized something. My body felt perfectly fine about my decision to take a day for myself!
My body didn’t feel any guilt on a physiological level. In fact, that morning when I’d been driving to Marin for the hike and spa day, I felt amazing in my body!
My whole body felt alive and excited for what was about to happen.
There was not a trace of bad feeling in my body about not spending the day with my kids.
So I have a theory.
What if, when we’ve created a guilt construct in our own minds about something we “should” do, our body doesn’t feel bad? And that can be a signal of our deeper truth?
I’d love to hear your take on this!
Have you ever felt guilty about something in your mind, while feeling perfectly fine in your body? Or do you usually feel guilt in your body on a physiological level too?
Let us know in the comments below!
When you think back to times when you’ve felt sheepish or guilty about something, how did you feel in your body?