My friend Brenda is, quite possibly, a psychic genius. She has a knack for calling at just the right moment with just the right words. A therapist by trade, her guidance is always remarkably sound. A few weeks ago, we were catching up when she dropped another truth bomb…
“When it comes to making decisions, I always ask myself: Does it feel expansive or contractive?” she said. The idea was first written about by life coach Marie Forleo.
Expansiveness feels light, powerful, exciting. To me, it’s like the sensation you get after a workout or when you’re “in the zone” doing something you love. When you can’t wait to get started on something, there’s a good chance you’re feeling expansive.
Contractive feelings exist at the other end of the spectrum — heavy, tight. Perhaps it carries with it a sense of dread or secrecy. You can also sense it physically — are you hunched over? Is your jaw clenched? Do you feel like you’re stuck in molasses? If so, your intuition may be telling you it’s a no.
These words were so simple and so helpful.
Many times has a well-meaning person urged, “trust your gut.” But practically, it can be hard to decipher what, exactly, your stomach region would like you to know about a certain situation. Is that intuition… or indigestion? When framed in the context of “expansive” vs. “contractive,” your inner wisdom suddenly feels easier to interpret.
But what about when something feels expansive, but also scary? “Feeling afraid is actually a good sign,” Brenda said, “Because it means you’re leveling up.” This, it turns out, is the holy grail.
Since then, I’ve applied this advice to choices big and small — from what to eat for dinner to whether to take the book I’m writing in an entirely new direction — and have found it works every time. A week ago, I got an offer about a potential project that, on paper, sounded great. But as I considered it, my neck tensed up. I didn’t want to jump into it. In fact, I didn’t even want to respond to the email! Despite feeling pressure over what I “should” do, it was clearly a no. Realizing this felt like such a relief.
So the next time you find yourself at a crossroads, try it! I would love to hear how it goes.
Do you have any tricks when it comes to making decisions? Are there any choices you’re grappling with right now?