It’s January. It’s gray. It’s dreary.
Is your mood reflecting the weather? Do you feel gloomy, lost, confused, unfocused? Are you having a hard time making decisions or knowing what really matters to you?
If so, you are in the right place.
Let’s start with a story.
Just prior to the holidays, I had so much energy and enthusiasm. I knew what I wanted, where I was going and how I was getting there.
As 2009 ended and 2010 began, I found myself feeling gray. Just gray. A grayness that clogged my head, swirled around my body, and smothered any excitement or happiness I may have normally felt.
I had no sense of myself, of what was important to me, or of what I wanted. Even very small decisions were completely unmanageable. Discussions with my boyfriend went like this:
Boyfriend: So, you hungry?
Boyfriend: Well, I’m hungry. What do you want to eat?
Boyfriend: How about (something or another that I wouldn’t even really hear).
Man, life was exciting. (Please note the sarcasm).
A small part of me knew there were all these things that I wanted, even needed, to be doing. The larger part was having nothing to do with it.
Actually, that gives the grayness too much personality. Let’s try again: the larger part (the grayness) just said, nothing. Blah. Ugh. Nothing.
So, there I remained, steeped in grayness.
Until…one day, after yet another conversation where I had absolutely no opinion, it dawned on me.
I really didn’t know what I wanted. I had completely lost touch with one of the things that gives my life color.
What was that thing?
What is a preference? You ask. Well, let me tell you.
In Ortho-Bionomy-speak, a preference is that which feels more comfortable out of two options.
For instance, if you were on my table with hip pain, I might rotate your thigh first internally and then externally. I would ask you which rotation felt more comfortable.
In this example, comfort would be indicated by an increased sense of relaxation, or a decreased sense of pain and/or tension in the hip.
Basically, I would help you recognize and choose comfort in your body; I would help you recognize your preferred position.
[Preferred Position: more Ortho-speak simply meaning the position in which the body is the most comfortable.]
When our bodies are properly aligned, when we have nourishing relationships and supportive self-care systems in place, it’s easy to know what feels good and to have preferences.
However, things happen that disconnect us from our preferences.
Back to my story for a bit. My grayness indicated a disconnection from my preferences, from my sense of comfort, from my Self.
This disconnect can happen in innumerable ways: physical trauma, emotional distress, the weather, or even just repeatedly doing a job you don’t like.
What serves to disconnect varies from person to person.
For me, the disconnect this time stemmed from spending five days in a situation where everything was superficially pleasant but teaming with tension and anxieties underneath.
This situation wouldn’t be a big deal for many people. Yeah, it may be unpleasant but it’s not going to totally spin them off into this world of preference-less grayness.
For me, however, this situation triggered all sorts of icky, unresolved, childhood stuff.
Stuff around being told that what I was feeling (tense, anxious) was wrong, and that everything was fine (when it wasn’t).
Stuff around being told repeatedly to ‘smile and fake it’ so others would like me and I wouldn’t be made fun of as a little girl.
From these childhood experiences, I learned two things:
- I couldn’t trust what I felt because it was wrong according to those older and therefore wiser than me.
- I couldn’t trust what others said either. I knew this because what I said or showed the world was often very different from what I truly felt.
These learnings basically left me very confused and distrustful as a child. I didn’t know who or what to believe. I didn’t trust those around me. I didn’t trust myself.
In short, being subjected to a very similar environment as an adult to the one I was in as a child spun me back into that place of distrust, confusion and not knowing.
Into the Land of No Preferences.
Which can be a pretty scary place.
So, how can you ascend from the grayness of no preferences into the color of knowing what feels right to you?
Well, that’s where we’re going now. I have a few thoughts.
- Start small. Ask yourself a small, rather meaningless question. Do I like this or this?
- If possible, make the question something you can feel in your body. For example, do I want to lie down or sit right now? Try it. Sit in a chair and notice how your body feels. Then, lie down on a bed or on the floor. How does that feel? Which option feels more relaxing in your body?
- Give yourself two options ONLY at a time. Do I want a bath or a shower? Again, put yourself in both situations (this time in your imagination). Which option feels more relaxing and nourishing?
- Refine your choice. For instance, if you decided lying down is your preference, you could further refine your choice through asking: Do I want my knees supported or do I like lying flat? Again, try both and find out.
How preferences bring you back to YOU.
As you rediscover your preferences using relaxation and comfort in your body as your guide, you begin to reconnect with yourself. And then, decisions become easier to make.
You are able to use that sense of comfort in your body to make whatever decision you may be facing… from what to eat for dinner to what your next step is in your work or in your life.
Preferences! I gots ‘em! Lots of them!
Having preferences, knowing and being able to choose what makes you feel relaxed, strong, and resilient is awesome. Decisions become easier, conversations more interesting, life more engaging.
With preferences back in your life, the grayness will be washed away and your life will once again be filled with color.
And that, I think, is something worth celebrating even on the grayest of days!