Hello and welcome to the March blog! I hope spring, or at least the feelings associated with spring, are finding you wherever you may be.
I’d like to kick off the blog this month with a new word: Interoception.
Interoception is the ability to comprehend the messages that our body and even our internal organs are sending us at a visceral level. Interoception is important in somatics because it is the best way to understand why we respond the way we do to specific stressors.
The brain does not distinguish between real threats and perceived threats, which is why we sometimes overreact. For example, perhaps you stress when your boss unexpectedly comes into your office or passes your workstation. Why do you think you feel this way? Is this situation reminiscent of a past experience that upset you? Because, for all you know, your boss is coming to congratulate you on a job well done.
Without realizing it, you may be allowing the past to dictate your future. In somatics, we take back control by tuning into the body to identify and evacuate stored survival stress. Much of this stored stress has been there for ages, and we must rid ourselves of it to become more effective leaders and more loving and capable parents, spouses and friends.
At the most basic level, we are wired to survive. We either orient from a place of threat or curiosity. If your body reacts to a superior (a boss, for example) as if the person were a saber tooth tiger, you will feel stressed, scared, and desperate for an escape. Is this the image you want to put forth to a superior?
On the other hand, if you recognize the gap between what you know and don’t know about your boss’ visit, you can respond with an open and curious mind, which is a more rational way to greet your boss. When we jump to conclusions, we risk misunderstanding the person before us and putting unnecessary strain on our relationship with them.
The next time you feel yourself slipping into an emotional state that doesn’t fit the situation, use interoception and inquire within the body: your organs, your nervous system. For example, is your stomach knotted? Is there a pounding in your ears? Next, name what you are feeling. Identifying your feelings will calm your body and allow you to return to a more regulated and neutral state.
Somatic awareness is an essential leadership skill, and, like any skill, it takes time to master. But, stay curious, keep practicing and your capacity to comprehend the messages your body is sending you will improve. You will be amazed at just how many problems you can solve with this single skill.
If you have any questions about interoception and somatics, I invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help you reach a higher level of internal calm and leadership mastery.