Less is More
I have a new mantra; I'm thinking of having t-shirts printed. I feel like everyone should wear a reminder on the outside of the number one reason people get twisted up on the inside. Perhaps if you could glance down at your chest, or see reflected in the mirror, this common cause of suffering, the world could be made a better place, one cotton garment at a time.
These four words can accurately explain nearly every instance where I find myself struggling: uneasy, angry, anxious, paralyzed, confused, misaligned. When a client who's been progressing smoothly suddenly stalls, when a family member comes to me in dire straights, when I witness a friend bereft, watching their goals slip away like the sea at low tide...it's always the same issue. The same solution can always be applied.
Less brain, more heart.
Less thinking, more feeling. Less what if, more what now. Less wondering, more wonder. Fewer facts, greater faith. Less brain, more heart.
It took me more than four decades to figure this one out. T-shirt designs from my earlier days would have boasted slogans (in aggressive, bold fonts, no doubt) more like "hustle harder," "brains are beautiful," or "president of proper planning." Look, brains are beautiful, and your knock-out noggin has a place in creating the life you want to be living. But the proper placement for your gray matter is not the hot seat your brain is probably occupying right now. It's not the driver's seat, the conductor's chair. Your brain is an excellent co-pilot, perfectly suited to pushing the buttons, throwing the switches, and monitoring the gauges. But if you want a smooth flight, your heart needs to plot the course.
Trouble is, your brain is easily influenced. It's full of thoughts, and not all of them are yours. In fact, many of them came from other people--your parents, your culture, your holy book(s), 56 white men who signed a piece of paper roughly 250 years ago. In your brain, it can be hard to tell what's truly yours. Not so in your heart. There's only one voice there. Heart thoughts are soul thoughts, they're guaranteed to be yours and yours alone. Bring your beautiful brain online after the decisions have been made, to do what brains do--organize facts, create to-do lists, project time frames and costs. End the process with your brain...but start it in your heart.
Your heart center, your soul, is fully aligned with the Greater Knowing. You are tapped in, in this moment and every moment, to a deliciously abundant flow of information operating for the best and highest good of all. That means what's best for you, but also what's best for your family, your community, your country, and your planet. Your brain will tell you this is not possible, that you must choose between what's best for you and what bests serves the people and causes that you love. Hence, less brain. Because when you are listening to this heart-centered guidance, decisions are effortless and outcomes equally easy. Choices are guaranteed to be perfectly aligned with who you are in the moment, and will naturally lead you through the progression necessary to become who you wish to be. More heart.
You'll know when you're operating from your heart space because choosing feels inspired and painless. Time seems to bend to your advantage, tasks nearly complete themselves. Researchers call it "flow," and it's truly magical. Flow requires presence and two feet firmly planted in your soul's center. This is the space from which you should make decisions. Only after choosing a direction from this home base should your brain become involved.
More brain equals more struggles. Your brain is fully aligned with your Ego, your sub-conscious, and the extensive programming you've received throughout your life. Your brain generates fear and doubt and lingers in places the heart never ventures, toying with questions of worth, shame, guilt. These falsehoods are non-existent in heart space; they are not blemishes on your soul, but simply matters of your mind.
That stuff between your ears is also the source of what I call stupid rules, the made-up boundaries and requirements you heedlessly work to adhere to, always to your detriment. Stupid rules are created by your brain at random intervals and accepted as facts thereafter...even though you've made them up! Behind most conflicts between what you truly want and what you're willing to do to get it, you will find a stupid rule, courtesy of your brain. Your heart has no concept of rules, only alignment. It hurts when you're out of alignment and sings when you are in it. No rules are required or desired in this space.
For these reasons, your brain is actually a terrible place from which to make choices. You'll know you're operating from your brain when you feel conflicted, particularly when you know in your heart that one choice is perfect, but your brain offers reasons why it is not. Struggle will be plentiful. There is often a list of pre-requisites when using the brain to choose, reasons why you cannot choose now and must wait for a later, more appropriate date. Time becomes scarce, tasks seem insurmountable. Common feelings when the brain is leading the charge include confusion, overwhelm, fear, shame, and doubt.
Why do we so often turn to the brain, when making choices from this space is so obviously uncomfortable? In part, we are taught this behavior. Those who over-use their brains are praised and labeled as intelligent, while those who lead from the heart are often labeled impulsive or over-emotional. The heart cannot explain its choices, for on the soul plane no explanations are necessary. The brain, on the other hand, can provide nearly endless justification for its chosen direction. These explanations are mistaken for validation, assumed as proof of a wise course of action.
The brain is loud, pushy, insistent. The heart operates quietly. The heart will gently try to redirect you when you've gone astray, offering only the lightest whispers when first you ignore her counsel. While heart's warnings will escalate over time, the brain is importunate from the outset. Like a dime store swami, the brain forecasts all manner of doom should its recommendations be ignored. It can be challenging to hear the quiet whisper of a heart over the spittle-spraying screams of a brain.
Which is why we might need t-shirts. A reminder that the brain has much to offer, but the best way to utilize its skills is to apply them to making the heart's choices into reality. In eternal network with all that is, the heart knows the most direct path forward. As an outpouring of your own soul, it cannot possibly lead you astray. Without concern for the opinions of others and in harmonious concert with the highest good, heart-led choices are sure bets, each and every one. This conduit of Greater Knowing understands what the brain never will, that it isn't necessary to understand the full journey to take the step that lies before you now.
When your hustle isn't paying off, when hard work just seems to create more hard work, when the more time you spend the more struggle you experience, you can be assured that you're aligned with the mind. Your brain is in charge, and the longer you allow it to drive your bus, the farther off course you will drift. The answer is simple: less brain, more heart.
Stop thinking so much and start feeling instead. Stop moving so fast, doing so much. Hustle is a favored activity of the brain, and is often used to distract you from what heart has to offer. Do less, listen more. Pay attention to how the activities you've been engaging in make you feel. Immediately stop doing the ones that make you feel drained, worthless, or abused. Seek joy, leaning in to activities that leave you feeling fulfilled, rested, aware. Recalibrate your center, and then ask your heart to show you the way forward.
After your heart has chosen the next steps, then you can allow your brain to shine. Let it organize the tasks you'll do to follow your heart, allow it to categorize information that will help you proceed. The brain is the perfect source of action, but for the course to be aligned, it must be set by the heart. Allow your head to serve your heart, not the other way 'round.
Since putting my brain in its rightful place, I've created more peace and abundance than I've ever experienced in my life. I've walked away from work and relationships that didn't serve me, moving into partnerships, friendships, and income opportunities that are far more productive and powerful. I've created things my brain could never conceive of, including a women's retreat and a networking community for female business owners. I've started writing again (hello, blog!) and have opened myself to the intuitive connection that provides me with endless support and guidance.
I was once the Queen of Analysis Paralysis. Making decisions, from which socks to buy to where to invest retirement funds, was a truly painful process. I agonized over every single choice, sometimes for hours, other times for years. Literally! Trying to make a choice, even a simple one of little consequence (I'm not joking about the socks, y'all), was like watching the world's best ping-pong players in a life or death match. The back and forth within my own mind was deafening, and defeating. It was exhausting to consider choosing...anything. And so I generally chose not to decide. I just kept what I had, which was often equally as agonizing. Too much brain!
I was able to see just how skilled I've become at allowing my heart to lead this fall, when I realized the time had come for me to release the last vestiges of my previous business model (you can read my post about the day I left it all behind here). This is the kind of choice that would have previously taken me years to make. I would have fully immersed myself in my brain pan, spending massive energy in arguing with myself, utterly engaged with doubt and worry. And there I would have stayed, as I always did, incapable of taking action of any kind because I was so completely caught up in All. The. Thoughts.
Instead, I recognized my heart's call to move forward, and I did. No drama, no over-thinking. No stupid rules or agony. Just a heart centered choice, one that has made it possible for me to advance other dreams my heart has offered me (including creating my new program, Banishing Burnout). What I've learned as I've put this mantra into practice in my life is that the path of least resistance is paved with heart-shaped stones. No matter your aesthetic inclination, my friend, you have to admit...brain-shaped stones just don't have the same appeal.
Maybe you can't order your t-shirt just yet. But here's what you can do...learn to shut down your brain. Meditate, walk in nature, exercise, journal--whatever it takes to quiet that screaming toddler between your ears, do it. And then listen deeper, lower. Listen to the quiet sound of your own true voice, the one that's humming beneath your sternum right now. Ask that space what's next, what it wants. And then choose that.
When you can't decide, less brain. When the choices seem overwhelming, more heart. When everything you're trying is getting you nothing that you want, when you feel like there aren't any options, when you're too afraid to try anything at all, know that the answer is crystal clear. Less brain, more heart.
See it on your chest right now, more powerful than Superman's S. Feel it, just beneath the place where the words would be printed. More heart. More heart. More heart. Let the space beneath that slogan expand until there's no room left for the fussing and fighting between your ears, until less has become more in the most profound of ways. Choose from that space, and know you can never be mistaken. This is your superpower, this is the answer. The question or villain at hand is irrelevant. The answer is always the same...less brain, more heart.