You may be familiar with the image of the elephant and the rider…one of my favorite descriptions of the mind/body connection, popularized by Jonathan Haidt. The elephant represents the emotional side and the rider the rational side of our beings. Dan Heath and Chip Heath developed this metaphor further, noting that both parts must be present, active and working together if we wish to accomplish anything in life – they can help each other or undermine each other. Sometimes we have great ideas of what to do, but lack the energy; other times we have lots of energy and no idea where to channel it. We must get the rider and elephant aligned on the path and resolved to stay on it.
The WholeLife Matrix identifies four keys to increased psychological awareness – the way to get your rational and emotional systems working together in the same direction:
Take time to stop and look closely at the moments when you feel particularly unable to move forward on your path. Is your rider/rational side working with a clear plan and focus, or spinning in circles with analysis paralysis? Is your elephant/emotional side well tuned with lots of rest and reserve energy, or physically or emotionally exhausted, unable to move forward despite your resolute intentions? Look carefully at these states without judgement, and allow the stronger side of your being to patiently understand and accept whatever it is that holds you back. The resolution to move forward can only be realized when the two sides make allowances for and support each other in the journey down the path.
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