Aligning Your Head, Heart, & Gut -- Unleash Your Inner Wisdom, Confidence & Joy!
Updated: 22 hours ago
Let me ask you an important question: are you living a congruent life? Are you wondering what that means? Great question! I certainly thought I knew what it meant. And, until recently, I had always considered myself to be someone living in congruency, as I had defined that as being the same, consistent person in different situations or settings, and also living one of my core values, integrity (doing what you say, saying what you mean, being truthful, etc.). Indeed, one definition of congruent is being a mirror image of one’s self.
I thought that I must be living a congruent life, given that I am very much a “this is me” and “what you see is what you get and who I am”, open book, no facades, type of person. Fortunately, I have never personally struggled with feeling the need to be a different person or version of myself at work than I am at home, or to hide part of myself or my identity (which I don’t want to minimise this, as I know it is a real and serious issue for some people). Sure, living in congruency is about being the same person on the outside as you are on the inside (your authentic self), and being consistent from situation to situation. But, is it more than that?
If you look up the definition of congruency, it says “in agreement; harmony”. In a recent training I attended, I learned that living in congruency also means in terms of agreement or alignment within yourself, between your head and your heart.
Oh! Hold on! That’s when the realisation hit me. I had been unintentionally living an incongruent life for many, many years. And, I believe that many people are doing the same, also potentially unaware. Let me explain further.
Have you previously heard it mentioned that we have three brains? These three brains are your head (the rational brain), your heart (the emotional brain), and your gut (the intuitive brain). If you are quite a rational person, you probably have a tendency to rely more on your head and logical analysis of pros, cons, and probabilities to make decisions, maybe even an overthinker. If you are more of an emotional person, you likely have an inclination to “go with the flow”, be more spontaneous, and make decisions driven mostly by your heart and the way something makes you feel emotionally. If you are more of an intuitive person, you likely have a tendency to make decisions based on your gut or feelings in your stomach, or possibly sensations elsewhere in your body (e.g., a lump in the throat is a common one), or an unexplainable feeling or energy.
Living in congruency is about taking actions and making decisions which are in tune (aware) and aligned with your head, heart and gut. It’s about not placing one above the other, or turning one off completely, or always relying on one over the other, but rather, taking the time and focus to listen to each. Generally speaking, it’s not ideal to be dominated by one over the other. For example, making decisions solely based on your head (ignoring your heart and gut), or vice versa. They all serve a valuable purpose and provide insight for decision making. The true magic happens when they are all aligned, or you leverage the powerful insights that they each contribute to making the best decisions for yourself.
Here are some common examples of misalignment between the “three brains”, or you may have heard the terms “internal dissonance” or “cognitive dissonance”, which is the opposite of living in congruency:
My head says I should stay at a job where I make a lot of money because that is the safe and responsible thing to do, but my heart says I’m hating it, and/or my gut is signalling STRESSED!
My head says “don’t take the risk”, but heart says “I’m really interested in keen on trying this”
I’ve been listening to my head for so long, I don’t even know what my heart wants or feels
In my heart, I know I can do this, but my head is telling me all the potential things that could go wrong.
I’ve followed a career path that someone else wants for me, instead of what I really want to do, or maybe I haven’t taken the time yet to figure out what I really want to do.
Everyone thinks this is the right decision, and logically that seems like the case, but my gut is telling me that something just isn’t right about it.
6 Signs Your Head and Heart/Gut Are Not Aligned:
You are internally conflicted about a decision, or withholding making a decision because you are unsure of what to do, maybe asking everyone else what they think or would do
You are doing or have what you wanted, however, you are feeling unfulfilled or unhappy
You’ve lost your joy or excitement about your situation or achievements; other people around you are more excited or proud than you are
You’re feeling stagnant or unmotivated
You’re overthinking or overanalysing (instead of “trusting your gut” or “going with your heart”)
You would struggle to describe what you desire
6 Great Reasons to Align Your Head and Heart:
To move forward, to avoid indecision and stagnation.
Inner peace and happiness (note: the definition of congruency mentions “harmony”)
Emotional stability and confidence
To prevent stress caused by overthinking or overanalysing things
Feeling more purposeful, powerful, in-flow, unstoppable, fulfilled
Improved understanding around your desires, thus improved communication and relationships with others
How to Align Your Head and Your Heart
The first key step to aligning your head and your heart is greater awareness, which takes some time to slow down, create some quiet time and space to focus on yourself. Here are four practices which you can embark on to help with doing some deeper “soul searching”, to awaken the areas which are more difficult for you to access.
Spend some quiet time alone outdoors in nature, or in a relaxing space, self-focused and reflecting on things like: What do I enjoy? What brings me happiness? What is my heart calling out for me to do or explore? What does my gut say?
Practice tuning into your thoughts, emotions, feelings and sensations. When something comes up, identify if it is coming from your head, your heart, or your gut. Overtime, notice if you tend to receive (or pay more attention to) messages coming from one of your three brains (head, heart, or gut). If one is more dominant than the other, when it initially comes up, thank that dominant area (head, heart or gut), and then ask the other areas what information, input, or wisdom they have for you. What is your heart calling out for you to do or explore? What is your gut saying? What is your logical brain thinking?
Here are a few guided meditations focused on listening to your inner wisdom:
Here are some potential journaling practices and questions to explore:
Ask yourself, in the absence of any judgements or fears that I have, what would my bravest-self do or desire?
Create a life inventory of all of the things you really want to accomplish or experience in your life
Free-form write from each of the three places (head, heart, and gut), or from the area(s) where you have more difficulty tapping into. What is your heart calling out for you to do or explore? What is your gut saying? What is your logical brain thinking?
If you are struggling over making a certain decision with various options, imagine each of the options and putting yourself into those options, and see what comes up for each of the options, and write it down. For example, when I think about option #1 my heart beats with excitement, I feel warm, I’m breathing relaxed, I I’m smiling, etc.. When I think about option #2 my gut is churning, my breathing is tight/restricted, it’s more difficult or uncomfortable to swallow, my foot is tapping uncontrollably, etc..
I highly recommend taking a few minutes to slow down and do a little soul searching. Focus on tuning into and listening to the wisdom from each of your three brains, especially your less-dominant influencers. There are several options provided above to assist with tapping into these key areas and messages, so do whichever you feel most comfortable and connected with, as the whole point is to get more connected with all of your inner wisdom and powerful messages, whether that be from your head, your heart, your gut, or all three. Sometimes we make decisions more aligned with our head and logic, and other times more so our heart or gut, but where the true magic and confidence flourishes is when we tap into each, get them aligned, or at least leverage the value of each to make the best decisions for ourselves aligned with our core values and beliefs.
Stephanie Sullivan is a certified Life Coach, Health Coach, NLP Practitioner and founder of Elevate Your Life Coaching PTY LTD. After 23 years in demanding, high-stress corporate roles as a business consultant, then a corporate executive, she knows first-hand about stress and trying to balance career and parenting demands, along with personal needs and wellbeing. Now Steph’s purpose is helping people to make life changes to reduce stress, increase energy, and achieve their personal goals, career / life ambitions, and wellbeing.
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