Body Talk

I realized that I was “too big” in the first grade. On the first day of school, many years ago in a small rural school, the teacher weighed all the first graders, including me. I remember her voice so clearly. “Seventy-five pounds!” she exclaimed. “Seventy-five pounds! She weighs seventy-five pounds and the average weight for a first-grader is fifty pounds!”

Immediately, I scrunched down because I understood that I was too big. The “too big” message continued to come to me through elementary school since I was a head taller than most of the children in my class. And I continued to try to be smaller.

Of course, I know now that at five ft three inches I am not tall, in fact, some people seem to think of me as short. I know that I was larger than an average child and that I am no longer a larger than average person. Or I thought I knew until I was a student in a recent seminar about making effective presentations. The principal suggestions for improvement encouraged me to extend my arms, take up more room, and raise my voice. I watched the several video segments of my practice presentations. They were right! I looked like I was trying to stay small!

Suddenly, I realized my mind knows that I am five ft three. My body is still learning.

Often we make assessments of ourselves, personally and professionally, and make commitments for change and growth without paying attention to all the information available to us. Information comes from our bodies and our emotions as well as our intellect. Learning to pause and observe ourselves is a most valuable aspect of the coaching process. We have lots of practice at thinking, trying to figure out answers in our heads, looking for the logic of a situation. This is valuable, but not enough. Increasing awareness of the messages from our physical and emotional components and integrating those with our thinking can bring us to moments of profound insight.