When too much information is not enough

photo credit: Jared Erondu

photo credit: Jared Erondu

 

I am definitely a Googler. Since I’ve become a mom, there are so many things to Google. It never stops. I find myself typing increasingly more complicated and specific things into the search engine on a daily basis.

The other day, when I couldn’t find an adequate answer to the Google query (something about a strategy to eliminate the dream feed), I had a tiny epiphany, which was “I already know what to do.” I know because I know Ellie. I have great data based on past behavior and useful information based on my gut. And if what I decide to do isn’t the right thing for her, I’ll know soon enough. I’ll know, not because she can tell me with words, but by her other means of communication and by the way I feel.

While it’s sometimes frustrating and challenging to understand what pre-verbal babies need, it’s incredibly instructive at the same time. Ellie forces me to tune in to my intuition and my senses rather than just my intellect. I can’t discern what she needs or wants by researching it on the internet. Because she can’t yet communicate the way that she will be able to one day, she is actually modeling for me all the ways that I can communicate without words. More fundamentally, she is helping me tune in to my own sensory experiences because I observe the unmitigated expression of all of hers.

Now that we can Google everything, now that we have unlimited information available to us, the downside is that it can push us further away from our own intuition or sensory intelligence. It can block or override the sensations we get in our body telling us what is right or wrong for us.

While I didn’t experience what it’s like to be in labor, because Ellie was born via unscheduled cesarean section, I have read many stories and spoken with friends who have described their birthing experiences and labor to me. People often talk about labor using descriptions like “my body took over” or “I went inward” or report hours of being non-verbal. Laboring and subsequently birthing a baby is not an intellectual endeavor, it’s a physical, primal one. In fact, one of the most consistent things I’ve heard about the end of labor is that many women either say or start to think “I can’t do this” immediately before they indeed “do it” – right before their baby is born. It’s as if the brain becomes disconnected from the body.

If we really tune in to the body, there is no need to struggle with decisions. The body decides for us. Many of us are not used to really tuning in to the body for anything. We spend so much time in a cerebral place. We pay attention to the clock or to meal plans instead of paying attention to hunger, we pay attention to our to-do lists or our work schedule instead of paying attention to weariness and exhaustion, we pay attention to other people’s needs and desires instead of our own visceral yearning for alone time, for affection or for creative outlets.

There is nothing wrong with using our intellect, or pros and cons lists to make a decision. But, sometimes all the rational thinking, all the consultations with friends, all the Googling, only makes us feel more overwhelmed and less confident and grounded in what specifically suits us. Decision making is only hard because we make it hard. We don’t make decisions. Decisions come to us. The difficult part is unlearning what we’ve been taught about decision making. It takes practice to stop trying to explain why we feel a certain way (when we don’t know why – we just know we do). It takes practice to stop convincing ourselves that our gut feeling is wrong or silly or stupid because it doesn’t fit with some other story that we or someone else has told us. It takes practice to stop overcomplicating the process.

I’m not going to stop Googling – and I’m not suggesting that you do either. But, if you are prone to relying on outside information, opinions or expert advice to help you make small or large decisions, consider that you have everything you need to make decisions in your body.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area and you’d like to learn more about how to make hard decisions easily, I invite you to join us for a three session Boxcar Muse package in May – the first of which will include a workshop on this topic. Boxcar Muse is a women’s community and a project in finding joy in the everyday through a curated selection of activities and adventures in happiness-hunting, and the practice of guilt-free, self-love. For more information and/or to sign up, visit www.instagram.com/boxcarmuse or email boxcarmuse@gmail.com

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