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Do You Trust Your Gut Instinct? 7 Ways to Improve Your Intuition

You make a lot of decisions based on your gut instinct. It’s how we make decisions that align with our highest good. Here are 7 ways to improve your intuition.“The intuitive mind is where our genius resides.” ~ A. Artemis

Has anyone ever chided you for making decisions based on gut instinct? In today’s technological world, isn’t it an asset to be more logical, more analytical? Perhaps you feel stuck at times between following your head or your heart. Actually, I don’t think success is dependent on being one way or the other. As complex humans, we use both! They complement each other. Never would you want to silence one of your greatest strengths – your inner voice, your sixth sense, your gut, your intuition.

While many people think intuition is only the result of the brain drawing on past experiences and external cues to make a decision on an unconscious level, there’s more going on than that. There are neurotransmitters in your actual gut that send signals to your brain. They respond to real-time environmental stimuli and emotions. When those neurotransmitters fire you feel sensations of uneasiness. Scientists are calling the gut our second brain. You can know something, without knowing how you know it.  

We often speak of woman’s intuition, but men can be powerfully intuitive too. Everyone can increase their intuition or gut instinct. Here are seven ways you can mindfully enhance your logical side with your intuition side.

  1. Mindfully increase your awareness. Before you make a decision, check in with your gut. It takes discipline to slow down and notice. Yet this is a critical, first step for becoming aware of, and being present with, any inner disturbance. You body will tell you if you’re comfortable with a place, person or decision and if it’s truly in align with your highest good. So what are you experiencing – tightness in your neck, queasiness in your stomach, goose bumps, a sour taste in your mouth, or a feeling of relief? Even if it seems to be a great opportunity, if your gut says, “no”, listen to it!  As Rumi said, “There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”
  1. Welcome your inner critic as a friend. It would be a mistake to confuse strong emotions, like fear, desire and panic, for intuition. Strong emotions often come from your inner critic, which sends you a message that kept you safe in the past, but may no longer be serving you today. When you externalize and personify the inner critic, you recognize it’s an important Part of you that deserves to be heard, but not necessarily taken as the last word, for there are many more Parts of you that need to be considered, like your intuition, before you make a decision.
  1. Thank your inner critic for trying to protect you. Lighten the mood by humorously joining with your inner critic and say, “We appreciate your vigilance, but aren’t you exaggerating a little bit?” The better you understand it, the quicker your inner critic will relax.
  1. Isolate the current situation from past experiences. Of course you want to carefully weigh the consequences of any decision. But take a mindful look at the present situation, without past events clouding your emotions and thoughts. After you observe your body sensations and trace them back to the thoughts creating them, challenge those thoughts to see if they are valid in the current situation. I like how Roy T. Bennett puts it: “You will never follow your own inner voice until you clear up the doubts in your mind.”
  1. Observe your energy level. Pay attention to whether an activity or person is an energy zapper. If it’s bringing you down, your gut is telling you to assess why and change what you can.
  1. Capture your flashes. Intuition usually comes in a flash of insight, an Aha moment. When those moments hit, don’t let them escape. Follow through on them.
  1. Exercise your gut instinct. Thinking alone won’t balance your analytic self and intuitive self. It takes action. Literally. Some of my most intuitive inspirations come from getting away from my office and working out at the gym. Other times, I get intuitive solutions in the shower or when I take a long walk. Times of exercise allow your analytical brain to disengage so your gut instinct can be heard.

Sometimes you need a full detox from your busy life and get back to nature in order to kick start intuition. Why not join us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. We’re empowering women, like you, to live a vibrant life, elevate their presence, and make a difference in the world.

Embodied Intelligence Isn’t Just for Robots

Scientists know it’s important to teach Embodied Intelligence to robots; yet, ironically, we are neglecting to train HUMANS in these very important life skills!“A relaxed aware body-mind is the conductor of creativity” – Mark Walsh

Did you know that scientists are trying to teach Embodied Intelligence to robots, Artificial Intelligence [AI] of the future? One project “aims to build a theoretical framework for embodied artificial intelligence that treats the brain, body, and environment as inseparable cognitive elements. This theory will guide the creation of artificial agents that adjust their neural networks (brains) to feedback from their bodies and surroundings.”

These scientists know that embodied intelligence is essential for being a positive force in today’s society; yet, it’s ironic that today’s educators are neglecting to train HUMANS in these very important life skills! But I see this as an opportunity for you to rise to the top of your profession, by honing your embodied intelligence. This will put you leaps and bounds ahead of the pack, so to speak.

How can embodied intelligence help you to succeed in life and business?

How often do you experience the disconnection between knowing what your best behavior is and not being able to make yourself act in harmony with it? It can be frustrating and demoralizing! You want to go exercise, but you roll over and go back to sleep. You want to eat more healthfully, but you reach for the bag of chips. You want to speak with confidence, but you slump and start mumbling. The key to removing this inner conflict and gaining greater harmony between your thoughts, emotions and actions is to develop a greater understanding of your shape somatically.

What do I mean by “your shape”?

Your shape is the totality of your experience: it’s the story you’ve collected over the years about yourself, about other people, and about the world. Making sense of your story, understanding where you come from, understanding what you believe, and how your emotions are showing up in your body, are all impacting whether or not you can step into the next phase of your life. Without this understanding, this embodied intelligence, you’ll go through life like a character from one of James Joyce’s stories – “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.”

What we learned in our first five to seven years of life makes certain behaviors more habitual than others. That’s when you formed your unique stress response. Maybe you learned that drawing inwardly kept you safe. Or you learned to get angry and scream to be heard. Or you learned to please others, so you didn’t face confrontation. These responses to triggers follow you throughout your life, unless you mindfully retrain your mind and body to handle them differently. Knowing isn’t enough. Real change comes when you reprogram your body/mind connection with new behaviors and become the best version of yourself.

Your new shape – your positive mindset, the stories you’re telling yourself, your demeanor, the way you hold yourself – will help you make more compassionate and wiser choices.

When you tap into your body’s wisdom, you “turn on” your emotional intelligence and find your true self. You can, therefore, create faster and more sustainable shifts in your behavior. Understanding how to heal the mind/body connection – the embodied – somatic – whole person is powerful! The first step toward greater emotional intelligence is to daily practice mindfulness, so you’re fully present in the moment and recognize how your emotions and thoughts are affecting your body – your posture – your energy.

After studying embodied leadership at the Strozzi Institute and practicing the Feldenkrais Method®, I understand better how to teach you to connect with and learn from your body to grow and enhance your leadership presence and skills.

When you change your body shape, you can change a deep-seated behavior, which significantly improves your leadership outcomes. Act like a winner, and you’ll be a winner. Act like a leader, and you’ll be a leader.

Since most of us have been taught to spend time in our heads, accessing the vast embodied intelligence in the entire nervous system has become a dormant skill. But you can revive it! If you’d like to learn more about shifting away from a reactionary response to a more intentional state, plan on joining us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. We’re empowering women, like you, to live a vibrant life, elevate their presence, and make a difference in the world.

Why I Participated in the 2019 CrossFit Open

I participated in the 2019 Crossfit Open. It was amazing! CrossFit teaches me to see every day as an opportunity to improve, get better, get where I want to be.“You dream. You plan. You reach. There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits.” ~ Michael Phelps

Have you ever heard of the CrossFit Open? This year it’s happening between February 21st and March 25th. The CrossFit Games are world-renowned as a grueling test for the toughest athletes on Earth. It’s a five-workout competition. And it’s thrilling to see what people are capable of doing!

I love CrossFit and all that it stands for. I love its philosophy. I love its comradeship. I love the intensity. It’s my kind of workout. Every week I get to push my limits physically and mentally. I always learn something new about myself.

Since I started Crossfit over 3 years ago, it has become a metaphor for life: push your limits – find your strength!

Here are some life lessons you can takeaway from Crossfit training:

Your physical strength is fueled by your mental strength. When your body or mind says “you can’t”, try it anyway. More often than not, you can!

The more flexible you are the more resourceful, resilient and courageous you’ll be.

Progress doesn’t come automatically. There’s always a learning curve. Invest the time to develop skill “A” to get to skill “B” and so forth. If you jump from “A” to “Z” you’re going to hurt yourself!

There’s always some move you can make. Maybe you can’t do a Pull Up, but you can do a modified version of it, as you strengthen your body so that you can do it eventually.

Believe in yourself! Trust your coach and soak in the encouragement from your community. When you compare yourself to someone else, you hurt yourself. Use their success as inspiration instead.

Discipline and consistency build a reserve of strength, grit and conviction that gets you through the days when you’re feeling down. To become fit, you have to value your well-being over your desire to be a people pleaser

Can you see how these lessons apply to all areas in life? People say, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” We have the choice to let life happen or train for the long game. I’m in it for the long game.

I never thought I would ever enter the 2019 CrossFit Open, never. I thought of competing with my friends, but not entering at such an international level. But this year I did! Why? Because I believe in these principles and I wanted to practice what I preach to others.

Here are my scores on the 2019 CrossFit Open Leaderboard

If you go to the leaderboard website, you will see that I was there. It’s an amazing experience! No, I’m not in the top 10. That’s not the point. I trained to push my limits, to see what I could do. I accomplished more than I would have thought possible a year ago. And I know that next year I’ll do even more!

Ultimately, I entered the 2019 Crossfit Open, because I wanted to communicate these important messages to myself:

  • I am good enough right now.
  • I only compare myself to myself.
  • I push my limits to find my strength.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Don’t take life too seriously either.
  • Life is short, go for it.
  • Happy is on the other side of fear.
  • Courage takes you there.

During the open an amazing thing happened! Right after each grueling workout (five total), and not before I could stand and breathe again, it would all make sense. The everyday training itself started to make sense: how to train, how to push myself each day and week, how to gradually increase my effort, and why all of this is important.

In life, as in CrossFit, you have to train hard (with substantial periods of rest and recuperation in between) in order to sustain even 15 minutes of intense work. Imagine practicing your public speaking every day for just 5 minutes in the shower and then getting to your public speaking event and feeling like “I can do this!” This is what Crossfit has taught me to do every day. It takes consistent, daily discipline to get to the critical moment where I can perform well, with ease and skill.

I know I will do the open again…and again…and again. And from now on, I’ll see every day as an opportunity to improve, get better, get where I want to be. Like we learned from the story of the Tortoise and the Hare – slow and steady wins.

Would you like to find the same kind of courage, determination and resourceful within yourself? Please join us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. I know you have it …let’s bring it to life!

How to CALM Your Mind Using My 4-Step C.A.L.M. Process

Learn how to CALM your mind by using my 4-Step C.A.L.M. Process. Even in times of great stress, practicing it will help you achieve calm and peace more quickly.“I have never experienced a stressful feeling that wasn’t caused by attaching to an untrue thought. Behind every uncomfortable feeling, there’s a thought that isn’t true for us.” ~ Byron Katie

Many of you are doing a great job of maintaining a peaceful state in your lives through practicing mindfulness and other somatic skills I’ve shared with you. Yet in times of great stress, some clients tell me that they can’t help but revert back to a reactive state, which makes them feel out of control, defensive and on edge. Negative thoughts stream back into their minds. Let me reassure you, that’s quite natural. Don’t give up! The more you practice mindfulness the more it becomes your default method to calm your mind.

To make it easier to calm your mind during stressful times, I’ve come up with an acronym to help you remember the steps to take. It’s C.A.L.M.

Before I dive into how to CALM your mind, it’s helpful to understand the two systems or states your brain functions under –

  1. the reactive fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system) or
  2. the responsive rest and digest state (parasympathetic nervous system).

To put it simply, these two systems transmit valuable information via your neurochemical systems that make the body/mind connection.

Ideally, you want to experience the responsive rest and digest state most of the time. It’s the “shock absorber” in your brain that stops feelings like fear, frustration or anger from taking total control over your actions. Because you have an underlying sense of security and fulfillment, you can observe your feelings without judgment, name them and rationally cope with them, without getting too stressed out.

The fight or flight response should only switch on occasionally, when you’re faced with real danger. After the threat passes, you should quickly return to the rest and digest state in which you feel safe and peaceful.

Are you ready to learn how to CALM your mind? It will allow you to pause and let your rational brain catch up with your emotional brain and give it some guidance.

C stands for Connect. Connect with what your body and emotions are telling you. Notice your body sensations or physical reactions. Identify the feelings attached to them. Name them. Remember, feelings are not right or wrong. They just are. Work on accepting and exploring your feelings.  

For example, your husband says something that hurts you.

Your response: I feel hurt. I’m clenching my jaw and tensing my shoulders. I feel sick to my stomach. I feel threatened. I feel ridiculed. I feel belittled like when my dad said I was just a stupid girl.

A stands for Assure. Assure yourself that you’re safe. Observe your thoughts. What story or assumption are you telling yourself to make you react this way?

Your response: Oh, I was thinking he doesn’t respect me anymore, that he would leave me. That’s not true. We’re committed to each other. He’s just upset because of what I did. He doesn’t understand. (Breathe…Relax.) I’m safe.

L stands for Live YOUR Truth. It’s possible to cause unnecessary stress for yourself by trying to please someone. The sad fact is we often think we’re pleasing someone by pulling back from our dreams or putting ourselves down, which only makes us miserable. And it makes them miserable, too. That’s not what they want. They just want to understand. Each of us has to live our own truth – not somebody else’s.

Your response: This is important to me, because _____. I know he doesn’t understand. Collect my thoughts, so I can explain it to him patiently and reasonably. He probably feels threatened too. Reassure him that I’m not leaving. I’m committed to our relationship.

M stands for Mindfulness. Mindfully and purposefully choose the thoughts and actions that support the life you want to live.

Your response: I’m a powerful, intelligent woman who has a lot to offer my family, career, and community. I have a purpose and there are things I can do right now to move me closer to fulfilling that purpose. I know I need to include him more often, communicating my desires, plans and goals, so he doesn’t feel left behind. I feel calm, happy, and safe.

Would you like more training on how to calm your mind and live up to your full potential? Then plan on joining us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. Yes! We’ve changed the name to reflect more accurately how we’re empowering women, like you, to live a vibrant life and make a difference in the world.

7 Ways to Conquer Self-Doubt! Determination Is the Key to Success

Determination is the key to success. Everything you do begins with what you think. Gain greater control over your thought patterns by practicing these 7 skills.“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~ The Buddha

I believe that the phrase, “You are what you eat,” could be replaced with, “You are what you think.” When you feed your mind full of positive, grateful thoughts, you leave no room for self-doubt or negativity. You make better choices. You can’t help but become more productive, cheerful and enjoyable to be around. This in turn, makes people want to work with you and for you. Yes, you can erase self-doubt! But it will take time and effort. Determination is the key to success!

Are you determined to succeed in your quest to conquer self-doubt? Remember the fairytale The Little Engine That Could? He started the long trek up the mountain with a strong burst of energy and the self-talk, “I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can,” streaming through his mind. No one else thought he could. But his determination – the mental strength to try and not give up – was key to his success!

As a way to reinforce this same kind of mental strength and determination in you, here are some key ways to invite positive, self-nurturing thoughts to flow your way…

1. Always look for the positive. There is a world full of good things out there! Be determined to practice gratitude and feel blessed. Look for and appreciating the good that is present or that can eventually arise, from each situation. Greet each challenge as a blessing, because it will spark the growth you need to become more successful.

2. Zap negative thoughts. Just as a bug zapper “bzzzzts” and stops pesky annoying bugs, be determined to turn on your Negative Thought Zapper and stop them from taking hold and spiraling out of control. When you catch a negative pattern, assess it for truth, and then consciously re-phrase it to a pattern that oozes opportunity and possibility.

3. Speak positivity. I cannot stress enough the importance of being mindful of how you speak out loud and to yourself. When you start down the road of criticism, complaining, sarcasm, and abusive speech, STOP! Be determined to retrain yourself to seek ways to commend and build up yourself and others instead.

4. Shift your focus from getting to giving. When you become more other-centered – caring more for everyone else – you will be taking power away from the need to reach your quota, achieve a certain status, earn X amount of dollars, etc. When you become a person who serves from a state of compassion, people will respond and reward you with their business, with their cooperation, and with their respect.

5. When you doubt yourself, prove yourself wrong! If you haven’t tried, you’re lying to yourself when you say, “I can’t!” Nothing is accomplished by quitting before you even begin. Once you act in harmony with your intention to succeed, new avenue often open up before you, so you accomplish a task you never thought you could. And if, for some reason you “fail”, you’ll find a better path. No matter what happens, your self-confidence is lifted because you TRIED!

6. Envision the outcome you desire. It’s easy to let the disaster reel play like a movie in your mind, imagining everything that could go wrong. Be determined to replace it with a success reel. Play the “happy movie” of how everything turns out better than you dreamed of.

7. Take baby steps. Keep the big picture in the back of your mind, but only actively concentrate on what you can do right now, today, to move yourself forward just a little. It would be unrealistic to expect perfection. Rest when you need to, but never stop. Even taking a detour to learn a new skill is a step forward toward reaching your dreams of success.  

Of course, there will be times when you feel down, hurt or fearful. Allow yourself to experience those emotions, but do so mindfully and with the clear purpose of identifying where that feeling comes from and what it’s teaching you. Train yourself to get back up and believe more strongly in who you are and what you want.

Adopting these new thought patterns will take gentle, but firm work on your part. Your success depends on your determination to change your life to one that fulfills and satisfies you. As Channing Pollock put it so well…

“The only good luck many great men ever had was being born with the ability and determination to overcome bad luck.”

Do you “think-you-can” succeed? Do have that kind of determination? If so, I-know-you-can! I invite you to join us at our annual Women: Wisdom, Presence, and Flow! Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. (FLOW stands for Fierce Leaders Organizing Worldwide!) We’ll help you turn your “I-think-I-can” to “I-know-I-can” to “I-did-it!” Determination IS the key to success!

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