Ever find yourself talking to someone, and everything that’s been said goes in one ear and out the other? Or when you’re listening to a friend, do you only catch half of the conversation because you keep getting distracted by your phone? We’ve all been there. Did you know, though, that there are better ways to be present and in the moment? Just ask Body Intelligence Pro and Big Leap Coach Carmen L. Bonilla from the Hendricks Institute in California. She breaks down body intelligence into 4 main categories which we outline below.
What Is Body Intelligence?
Irl boss’ like you and me sometimes get so caught up in the daily hustle that we forget to listen to our bods, and more importantly, we forget to listen to each other. Have you ever been so focused on a project that you don’t realize you’re hungry until you’re starving? Or even worse, you don’t realize that you’re in an uncomfortable position until you stand up and realize your legs have fallen asleep? This is pretty common when you’ve got a lot going on, and it’s a problematic habit that has seemed to seep into our social lives. This is where body intelligence comes in.
Body intelligence is the act of listening to yourself and others (like, really listening). The goal is to be able to notice physical and emotional changes in yourself and in the person you’re with to improve verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
Picture this: You’re sitting across the table from a hiring manager at your dream internship (Faviana, maybe?). You’ve done your research on the brand, and you mock-interviewed with your mom over and over again the night before. You’re anxiously focused on all the questions the hiring manager might ask you as they settle in their seats.The answers you’ve rehearsed are playing on repeat in your head like a broken record. Your hands are shaky, and your shoulders tense as you hold your breath and trying to hide any sign of fear.
With your mind focused on the task at hand, you don’t notice how your body feels and looks. You don’t notice how the stress is affecting you until you finally relax and breathe. Your inner thoughts seem so loud that you miss bits and pieces of what the interviewer is asking you.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in this exact scenario, or a similar one, or maybe you’re yet to reach it, but the moral of the story is that understanding and developing body intelligence will allow you to stay in touch with how you feel, allowing you to better handle these times of stress and doubt. These skills will help you handle challenges from everyday life as well.
As women on the grind, we risk getting burnt out because we are so into our work that we lose touch of our social surroundings. We want to stay in sync with how we feel and how the people we care about feel. With any exciting life and ambitious career comes a little risk, a little stress, and a lot of distractions. So, sit back with a gal pal or two while I share some exercises with you to help you develop your body intelligence.
The first way to build our body intelligence is to develop an appreciation for ourselves, the people around us, and our lives in general. This allows us to connect with positive aspects of our lives and bring those aspects to the forefront of our focus. The following exercises will allow you to begin “ending blame and criticism” and can be revisited whenever you need a little appreciation inspo.
Grab a pen, girl. It’s time to make a list.
- Name three positive things you are aware of through your senses right now. (What do you hear, see, smell, feel, or taste?)
- Name three positive aspects of your life today.
- Think of a person you are having conflict with (A problematic roommate, maybe? A sibling you’re beefing with?), and think of three positive qualities they have.
- Make a list of daily things people close to you do that make your life a little better.
If you’re feeling up for it, share this with a friend and have them do the same.
Arrange a mock interview with a friend using the follow questions. Take turns being the interviewer and interviewee. The interviewer will ask the questions. The answers can be about your own friendship or about other relationships the interviewee has.
- How do you like to be appreciated?
- What is something that people do or say that really makes you feel appreciated?
- When, and how often, do you like being appreciated by others?
- What about yourself would you like people to show more appreciation towards? (Example: I wish people appreciated my work ethic more.)
- What are things about yourself you may dislike that you wish someone would show more appreciation for? (Example: I’m not a fan of my height, but I might feel better about if someone showed me a little love for being fun-sized.)
- How often are you currently appreciated? Would you like to be more or less often?
- What actions do others do that makes you feel the most appreciated?
Whole Body Listening
Ever talking to a friend and find yourself just kinda… tuning out? Same. Unfortunately, when it comes to conversations, it’s not easy to stay focused, especially in our fast paced lives. Whole body listening is to learn how to listen to others with our whole mind and body, and not just halfheartedly.
Okay, so here’s the activity. The focus is on validation and appreciation through body language. Grab a latte and sit down with your friend for some girl talk.
While your friend is talking, try to shut off internal dialogue. (Inner thoughts? Off, please.) Pay attention to your body language; you want to show them that you are listening. Keep your shoulders faced towards them, make eye contact, nod, and try not to interrupt. Keep yourself in check about getting distracted. Practice this together to help each other know how you both appear when having a convo.
Listen for Accuracy
Sometimes, we have a habit of hearing what we want to hear. During your chat, try to focus on the meaning of what they are saying. Repeat parts of what they said to you to confirm and clarify.
Listen for Empathy
You want to make your friend feel appreciated in whatever they are saying and feeling. Avoid making any assumptions on how they feel. Validating someone’s feelings is a form of appreciation. Even if you do not agree with what they may be saying, everyone is entitled to their feelings. Acknowledge how they feel and try to visualize the situation from their perspective as they tell it. If this feels difficult, ask questions to confirm the accuracy of what they are saying. It’s better to ask them how they feel rather than making any assumptions.
Be Mutually Creative
Remember the game “telephone” from when you were a kid where you would whisper something into someone’s ear, and they would whisper into the next person’s, and the next, and by the end of the game, whatever was first said been changed entirely? This can happen in even a one-on-one convo, and we want to learn how to avoid it. By the end of the conversation, you want to be able to accurately retell what they’ve said in your own words. Nothing should be lost in translation.
Body Intelligence Assessment
Congrats, girl. You made it to the third exercise. Time for a little Q&A. Answer the following questions about yourself carefully using yes or no answers. The goal is to assess how strong your body intelligence is.
- I regularly notice physical signals in my body.
- I have a positive body image of myself.
- I am able to turn my attention inward by using my awareness of breath and physical sensations.
- I regularly give attention to my breathing.
- I can connect with my own feelings while with other people.
- I can discern between thought, emotions, and physical feelings.
- I listen to my body when making choices throughout the day for self care by determining when it’s the right time for food, water, rest, socializing, activity, and quiet time.
- My verbal and nonverbal expressions closely match my inner experiences.
- When I notice something off about my body, I am able to pay attention to it and sense what my body is trying to communicate to me.
- I can shift between noticing my body language and the body language of others.
- I know what “yes” and “no” feel like in my body.
- I can sense the connection between my body posture and my attitudes and emotions.
- I can start and stop my movements by choice.
- I notice how food and drink affect my thoughts.
- When I’m walking, I notice how I carry myself. (Slouching, swaying my arms, skipping, etc.)
- I am regularly aware of scents and their impact on my mood. (Perfume, odors, food, etc.)
- I taste and enjoy my food from my first bite to my last bite.
- I know where my feet are even with closed eyes.
- I easily fall asleep and get enough rest each night.
Use this guide for what to work on moving forward. Try to focus on the statements you answered “no” to.
At the end of the day, being more in touch with yourself can have a huge impact on your emotional stability, and even on your physical health. The more at peace you are with your thoughts, your emotions, your body, and your environment, the better equipped you will be to tackle each and everyday. When you’re a hard workin’ gal, body intelligence can make all the difference.
Let us know how these exercises worked for you by commenting below, or by tagging @FavianaNY on Twitter. Also, don’t forget to keep up to date with Faviana by following us on Instagram @Faviana and on Facebook @FavianaNY!
Written by Sydney Lenox
Edited by Erica Fouts and Diego Ledezma