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  • Lori K Walters

When you Don’t Know your Deep True Answer

There I stood, frozen. I had just been asked if I wanted to go to a movie on Sunday and I didn’t know how to answer.


It’s not that I wanted to say No and didn’t know how to say it. But I also wasn’t feeling a certain Yes. It was a low-stake, seemingly simple question but the truth is that I needed more time to find my 100% genuine answer.


Perhaps you can relate.


For many of us, our deep down, true answer isn’t so quick and readily available.


I’m not referring to wanting a minute to check our calendars. This is about needing to check in with your guts and your hearts to feel what you really want. But the other person is standing there waiting. You feel the pressure to respond. Right now.


It’s like sitting comfortably in the audience and then, in a split second, finding yourself on the stage. Everyone is watching and waiting for words to come out of your mouth. And maybe coming to conclusions about why you’re hesitating. I mean, how hard could it be to know if you want to go to a movie or not?


It sounded like such a simple question that I should be able to give my answer right away. He wasn’t asking me to invest in his company or fly to the moon. He wasn’t demanding an answer. But I was feeling pressure. I was on stage, in the spotlight and I had to do something. Anything...




And that’s when it went wrong.


What came out of my mouth was: “Yes. That sounds great,” meaning that I generally liked the idea of going to the movie.


What my friend heard was: “Yes, we’re going to the movie on Sunday.” (You get the picture - it turned into an awkward mess.)


But this wasn’t the first time this had happened to me. And it had certainly happened in situations that were far more consequential than going to a movie. This pattern had severely damaged some important relationships. It had left me, again and again, feeling painfully misunderstood and mistrusted.



What I know now is that you can develop the ability to access your true answer more readily.


It’s learnable. And I say that because sometimes people think that they are never going to be able to feel their authentic answer all the way down. Sometimes they assume there’s something wrong with them, that they don’t even have inner wisdom or that they’re just the kind of person who doesn’t know themselves.


But that’s not true.


You can practice listening inward. And the more you practice, the more quickly and readily you’ll be able to hear your true answer. Here’s a couple of things you can do to build this skill:


1. Examine the past.

Recall times when you gave a genuine answer. It may be something low-stakes, like what to have for dinner, or it may be more significant, like changing your daughter’s curfew or confronting a colleague. How did you know your answer was true for you?


What did you feel in your body when you were saying it? One of my clients described a warm, fluid sensation in her abdomen. Another feels a calm, open space around his heart. How is it for you? Did your tummy feel settled? Was your spine straighter, your feet more solidly on the floor, your eyesight clearer or your chest uplifted?


Recapture the details of what it has physically felt like when your answer has felt ‘right’. Write them down. It may have felt different in different situations or with different people. You may not always be able to remember any physical sensations. That’s ok. Go ahead and gather what information is available.


If you do this regularly for a few weeks, patterns will begin to emerge. You will begin to learn something about what speaking your truth feels like for you. And this is one of the steps toward being able to readily access the knowing that is most assuredly there within you.


2. Engage in the present.

Notice in your day when you are presented with a question. I recommend starting with the low-stakes situations. In the moment when you recognize that you’re facing a question, pause for a moment to register how it feels.


First, what’s the overall feeling? Is it like being caught in a spotlight or more like something else? Is it scary, annoying, confusing?


Second, place one hand on your heart and the other on your abdomen and check for physical sensations. Is there part of your body that feels warmer or colder? Tense or numb, full or empty, flowing or still, etc.? There’s no need to change anything about what you do or say. Your only job is to notice and write down the sensations you experience.


This exercise can be frustrating but, trust me, it’s important to get to know what that moment of time pressure feels like in your body. Once you are able to recognize it, you’ll be in a much better position next time to pause and choose another response (i.e. not blurt out something you don’t mean and end up damaging a friendship, like I did).



Personally, when I know my true answer, I feel more light and space in my heart and more solid in my torso. I’ve become good at recognizing this, both when I’ve compromised it (yup, still do that sometimes) and when I’m honouring it. I’m continually cultivating a trusting relationship with my inner wisdom.


I hope these practices give you new perspective and bring you one step closer to listening to your inner wisdom, speaking your truth and living in even greater alignment with the real you.


With you on the journey,

Lori



Photo by Thibault Dandré on Unsplash

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