In Sync

A few years ago, after a particularly long run - after which I didn’t feel very good - I was diagnosed with neurocardiogenic syncope. The cardiologist said it was a big word to explain that at times my head and my heart don’t communicate very well.

Part of me was like, “Duh, that is true for all of us - it’s an everyday human experience. You mean there is a medical term for it?”

But, truly when this dis-ease is physically happening I feel nauseous and dizzy; sometimes, I sweat or my lips turn blue. That is exactly how I can feel emotionally when I am experiencing dis-ease between what my heart is expressing and what my head is saying.

One of the ways I try to get my head and heart to agree is by stopping and checking in with myself. Are my actions on pace with my values and my passions? What I tell my clients is that when you choose acceptance over your essence or your comfort zone over the adventure you were born to experience, you're making an unhealthy choice.

I had been wrestling internally with work decisions and stepped off the grid at the end of January to move my office from one location to another. This was a profoundly difficult, life changing decision. It took time for my head and my heart to align before I could do it.

I checked in with wisdom and courage for some assistance in getting used to the fact that I could not know what would happen if I took this road. Should I stay or should I go? (isn’t that the title of a song by The Clash?)

During my morning run, I found myself chanting the Serenity Prayer by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”

Around this time, a friend sent me a Barbara Crafton blog post. In the post, she said Paul Tillich, the Christian existentialist philosopher, thought the central dread of being human is that we cannot know, yet must choose. I liked Crafton’s response, which was to know ourselves as best we can, research our choices as best we can and the rest is a leap of faith.

Still, I needed more help, so I called on motivation and energy. I found some great advice in Jim Loehr who cofounded LGE Performance Systems (a high-performance training center for athletes and executives). Loehr says there are people who have developed a way of responding to the world by being curious about the opportunity of a situation rather than reacting out of dread or fear.

Instead of being on the treadmill, I could set out on the path for change and find the awe in the everyday adventure. I passed a mile marker by celebrating year number five in private practice in my new office. My choice may change my course a little or a lot. I am hopeful and curious about the future, even though I cannot know it.