Let me set the scene with a familiar scenario:
You’re in trouble. And someone is yelling at you.
Maybe you are in customer service and you can’t give a client what they want. Maybe you forgot to do something. Maybe you hit someone with your car. Maybe you stayed out too late after curfew, or your clothes are inappropriate. Maybe you failed a test.
But you know what happens next: the blood drains from your face. You hear the rushing as it goes past your ears. Your stomach drops, your intestines loosen, you can hear your heart speed up. Your breath shortens, you see as if in a tunnel, and your hands start to shake.
Welcome to the fight or flight or freeze stress response. This is your body’s ancient evolutionary method for dealing with stress and imminent threats. You are now primed to run, to fight, to survive, however you need to. You are in reaction mode, nothing more. And the part of your brain controlling all your actions is the “reptilian” brain, or the most simple, most basic part of your brain that tends to remain automatic.
The human body is a beautiful thing. And you’d be surprised at how long you can stay in a stress response without dying. In fact, most people live for many years with low-level, constant stress from a variety of sources.
But do you know what things are not priorities in a stress response? Digestion. Assimilating nutrients from your food. Creating. Repairing your body. Enjoying life. Love.
And that’s why your pleasure matters. It’s an active way to take yourself out of a stress-response lifestyle and start to invite your higher brain to the table. When you’re relaxed, you can think. Think of Henry David Thoreau on Walden Pond, or Isaac Newton getting hit by that famous apple while he relaxed under a tree in the English countryside. In order for you to even be able to access your higher purpose in life, you must be sufficiently relaxed.
So let your pleasure take priority this week. Luxuriate in baths. Get a mani pedi. Relax outside with friends and a cup of coffee. Get a massage or a facial. Spend ALL DAY reading if you can. Do your favorite crafts. Play sports with your friends. There are so many ways, just pick some favorites and get started.
If you don’t know what to do, that’s ok too! Relax into that. Say out loud or to yourself, “I have no idea what to eat today.” [deep breath] “What should I eat today?” And see what comes up. Or [deep breath] “What should I wear today?” Or [deep breath] “How can I relax today? In this minute? What the most enjoyable option?” Or my personal favorite, “What should I do next?”
Keep asking. Let your frontal brain start to channel responses. Give your instincts a voice, and invite genius to speak up. Make it a habit. And let me know how it goes.