Watch this. It’s good.

The wisdom in your body that Marie Forleo talks about refers to the fact that our brains are much bigger than our consciousness, or even our personality. That part of the brain also gets all that input from the rest of the body and feeds back into it.

Your brain is much bigger than you and much stronger and you have to and can trust it. It will watch out for you and come up with solutions.

I sometimes do a heck of a lot of what looks like goofing off to others but “doing nothing” allows my brain to do whatever it needs to do in the background. Trying to force that, if I want that to happen in my consciousness, does not work. That’s exactly what Marie says! I was delighted to hear that.

My brain also tells me when there is something going wrong in my body. When I really needed a different chair, for example, and was starting to develop a problem in my right wrist but not aware of it yet, my brain started bumping that arm’s elbow into the chair more and more frequently. I’d been wanting to get a new chair for years as it was too low and not adjustable. Sometimes, my brain inserts certain words in my spoken language (such as “suffocating” or things to do with my eyes) to alert me that something is wrong and needs my attention.

One thing that Marie does not address is that when something is wrong in the body, it can also affect how we feel and for instance put us in a really angry mood, when in reality, it could be for example the body’s the brain’s frustration with the body not getting enough oxygen or the fact that you’re coming down with a flu. The brain does not like it when something in the body makes the whole organism vulnerable.

When I was growing up, I read books by a teenage writer called Irmgard Smits who had caught TB. What told her mother that something was wrong with the daughter was her daughter’s foul temper – lots of yelling and slamming of doors – and she made an appointment with the family physician.

So do not go on a guilt trip every time your mood is not what you would like it to be and your mind is not behaving the way you would like it too. You are only human. Nothing wrong with that.

Your brain is a miracle. Treasure it, use it, listen to it.

Your brain is your guardian, your guardian angel, or whatever you want to call it.

This topic comes up in Marie’s video from about 8 minutes.

Then at around 38 minutes, she says something that I recognize in an odd way.

I sometimes KNOW what is INSIDE an envelope before I open the envelope. I get the message through the paper. I have no idea how this works. I have three concrete examples. One concerned a scientific manuscript that I had submitted for publication (decades ago) and the reply from the editors, when I took it out of the pigeon hole. (The manuscript had been accepted for publication.) There have been two very recent instances with postal mail as well. This is like fairy dust, right? Apparently, it exists!

It also sometimes works that way with humans. (Sensing what a human being is really like. Inside. Appearances can be just that. Appearances.)

Now watch this.

This brought tears to my eyes, for several reasons. My youth was nothing like hers, but it too had its challenges and when I graduated from high school, I felt that I could have done so much better because there had been too much other stuff in my life, felt that my grades weren’t really representative. Now I am thinking “What was I thinking?!” because I did manage to graduate “with great distinction”.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I quit my job and enrolled in earth sciences. I too wanted the PhD and the professorship, like Tererai Trent. I liked coaching students and seeing them grow and I liked the idea of helping shape a research field, setting the tone. I went for a PhD three times, but there was always stuff that intervened. My age (being found out as “too old”), then research funding unexpectedly collapsing and a lot of resulting tension, and then, during the third attempt, I reminded myself that I might end up spending my entire life trying to achieve my dreams and never reach that stage in which I was doing what I ultimately wanted to do. Later, looking back, I might see all the sacrifices I had made without ever having realized my goal of having my own research group. And I knew that I would regret that.

And I knew that there were other things that I liked and enjoyed too. I was in my mid-forties then.

I think what clinched it for me was the news about a woman I knew in Florida. She was in her 50s or maybe 60s – I’ve forgotten – and was also going for a PhD. (She got the PhD.) And then she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I grew up with people dying all over the place, of cancer, so this idea that we don’t have a lot of time and that every year is one extra has always been with me.

“Life’s too short to let it ruin your day.”

Science careers (in academia) require lots of sacrifices, certainly for women and certainly if you want to operate on the cutting edge. You have to be certain that you won’t regret the sacrifices.

When I quit my career in academia, I knew that when you quit you won’t reach what you were aiming for, by definition. (With a nod and a tip of the hat to physicist Mireille Oud who pointed this out when discussing a book about the psychology of striving.) So I knew that I was giving up on my old dream. But that is okay. I did struggle with it for a little while, but that is firmly behind me now. No regrets.

So I had to find new dreams.

I revived an even older one (and haven’t gotten very far with it) and discovered or remembered a few others along the way. Also, I started developing a new passion in the course of my second PhD attempt.

(By the way, I must say that Britain is a hard country for those who want to see their dreams come alive unless they’re born into the right families.)

I recognize what Tererai Trent says about the American women who came to her village. But she did it. And if she did it, then we all can.

(The problem indeed is usually that we do not even allow ourselves to have dreams and wishes. Many of us have been told all our lives that we only exist to serve men, that we’re useless on our own, as women, or some other tale that isn’t accurate, and we don’t all have mothers and grandmothers with the wisdom of Tererai’s.)

What a wonderful woman. What a wonderfully wise and strong woman.

We all have that in us.

So, here is a little kick in the butt to come back to from time to time.

That said, tenacity is no guarantee for reaching your goal. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. So you have to make sure that you are enjoying the process, the journey, and be driven by values and purpose rather than by the goal alone such as having a certain amount of money or a certain degree.

Oh, by the way, Adam Grant’s research confirms some of what Marie Forleo and I said, namely that when we procrastinate, the back of our minds continues to work on whatever we are “supposed to be” working on but don’t appear to be.

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