WHERE DID MY “WIGGLE” COME FROM?
The first time I remember feeling my Wiggle was back in 2010. It was lunchtime on a weekday and I was sitting in my car in a shady spot after doing a sales call. I was listening to an audio that was part of a spiritual study I had embarked upon, and something the speaker said set off a flutter in my chest. “Oh, that was interesting,” I thought. But it felt good. It felt like optimism, which was something I hadn’t felt much of in a while.
I had begun this spiritual study after crawling out from what I would consider my “rock bottom.” I’d spent the previous couple of years navigating some pretty crappy emotions and it got to the point where I was taking shots of tequila when I got home from work to “take the edge off.” I felt so terrible about myself that I would mix stiff cocktails in soda bottles and take them with me to social events to dull my discomfort and attempt to appear cheerful and “normal.” I didn’t know who I was anymore and the voices of self-loathing were so loud in my head that I couldn’t even hear myself think.
So that day in my car, when I felt the delicious flutter of optimism and hope, I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I knew I wanted more of it. I would feel that same sensation from time and time, and each time I’d pause and investigate. What was I doing in that moment? Who was I talking to? What were we talking about? I would look for themes, and I would find them. I started referring to the sensation as “my Truth Center,” because I knew that whatever ideas or interactions were taking place at that moment, they were “true” for me; they represented my “true” self. At the time, I still didn’t have a strong sense for who I was, but my sense of self was gradually getting stronger, and these “flutters” were a big part of it.
In 2017, I attended a women’s conference in Denver and I had a profound experience (which actually involved a “fire walk” over hot coals, but I’ll save that story for another day). The woman who was leading the session invited us to ask the question, “What am I here to embody in the world?” and then listen quietly for the answer. In the silence that followed, I allowed various words to float through my mind, spending a few quiet moments on each. As I hovered over the word “empowerment,” my chest fluttered and buzzed. I didn’t know what my Truth Center was telling me, but I knew I wanted to follow the message and find out.
The following year, I met monthly with a small group of women I had met at the event in Denver, and I described my inner knowing as a “Wiggle,” because that’s exactly what it felt like. As I explored the theme of empowerment, I talked about “following my Wiggle” because I knew it was leading me in the direction I was meant to travel. The more I followed my Wiggles, the more I found myself engaged in stimulating and fulfilling activities, and the more empowered I felt in my life. This blog was born from my deep desire to help others learn to connect with their own deep sense of fulfillment and empowerment through Wiggles.
WHY ARE WIGGLES IMPORTANT?
One of the beautiful things about this whole process for me has been developing the ability to talk about Wiggles with others, who then reflect back to me their own experiences of feeling like they have to show up in certain ways that may not be aligned with who they are or what they want in life. I’ve heard from women who feel like they have to be perfect, men who feel like they have to be tough, and kids and teens who feel like they always have to have the right answers, whether or not those answers actually reflect what they think or feel.
We’ve all grown up in a culture, at least here in America, that values and expects some kind of “ideal.” We’re constantly bombarded with images and expectations of what or who we should strive to be, which we’ll be rewarded for if we achieve. I get nauseous when I notice how many advertisements subtly tell us that who we are and what we have in life is not enough, and they’ll happily sell us a product to bring us up to the ideal standard. If you add social media on top of that, with superficial snapshots conveying perfection in the lives of friends, acquaintances, and influencers, it’s a wonder we’re not all on Prozac and Xanax to cope with the massive insecurity complex that is funding America’s economy!
Depression and suicide are at record highs for teenagers today, especially among girls and those with non-binary gender identities. As a whole, we’ve all been getting the message that we can’t be who we really are, and many of us have gotten in the habit of ignoring or neglecting the signals our bodies give us to inform us about our true selves. Learning to notice our Wiggles is a beautiful way to reconnect with the experiences that help us to feel whole.
5 REASONS TO WIGGLE
1. Our inner voices get stifled by cultural influences
2. We’re overwhelmed and overstimulated with too much information and too many choices
3. We often lose our sense of self when we’re busy caring for or trying to please others
4. Focusing on our deepest desires helps to heal old wounds
5. We reinvent our desires with each changing season of our lives
HOW DO WE FIND WIGGLES IN OUR BODIES?
Wiggles are signals sent from our subconscious self to our conscious self with messages about the kinds of experiences and interactions we crave on a deep, soul level. We have two powerful tools in our bodies to help us detect our Wiggles. The first tool is called our enteric nervous system, which is often referred to as our “second brain.” This is the physical guidance system that runs, regulates, and automates our internal bodily functions, such as our heartbeat, our breathing, and our organ functioning. It was our primary brain before humans had evolved into complex organisms with a cerebral cortex and central nervous system. As the organ that we now identify as our brain and central nervous system developed through evolution, they took the first brain position and bumped the enteric nervous system into second place, though arguably it’s no less important.
Our enteric nervous system quite literally lives in our intestinal system and is referred to as our “gut.” It’s theorized that intuition and “gut feelings” come from the web of neurons in this secondary nervous system. I believe this is where Wiggles come from. Our bodies have the ability to send us messages independent of our brains, and this can be really important when past conditioning or traumas have hijacked our thinking and prevent us from connecting with our “true selves.” Wiggles are a way that we can distinguish what is “true” for us from the falsehoods imposed upon us from the outside world.
The second tool we have in our biology is the ability to detect sensations from inside our bodies, which is called interoception. Noticing when you feel hot or cold, hungry or thirsty, anxious or nervous, and tired or energized is a function of interoception. The ability to notice our Wiggles and differentiate them from other sensations in the body falls under this sensory perception.
More than likely, Wiggles aren’t obvious to you if you haven’t spent some time learning to notice them. But through the practice of interoception, you can learn how to identify and differentiate these sensations in your body. Sometimes Wiggles and anxiety can feel similar, where a tight chest and stomach "butterflies" might be present in both experiences. Distinguishing between the arousal of anxiety and the arousal of excitement can be a powerful motivator when deciding where to place your attention (I’ll talk more about this in future posts).
5 WAYS TO CONNECT TO YOUR WIGGLES
1. Connect with a sense of compassion for yourself. Remind yourself that your life is precious and that you deserve to live in a way that cultivates joy and excitement.
2. Set an intention to notice when joy and excitement are present for you. When you feel the sensations, notice what’s happening around you. Or when you’re engaged in activities that you enjoy, notice the sensations in your body as you experience those activities.
3. Foster a sense of curiosity around your experiences. Respond to your physical sensations, both pleasant and unpleasant with, “Isn’t that interesting? What else can I learn?”
4. Begin to notice patterns. Notice when certain activities or conversations leave you feeling really good on a regular basis. Identify these as Wiggles.
5. Seek opportunities to engage in activities that make you Wiggle. Share with your family that these experiences are important to you and that they help you to feel energized and positive. Create agreements or schedules that enable you to engage in these activities, even if they take you away from your family for a short time. If you notice these Wiggles in your workplace, invest in the time or conversations necessary to facilitate more of these activities for yourself during the workday.
When I begin to feel lost, confused, or unhappy, I feel like a boat that’s lost at sea. My Wiggles are like a lighthouse on the shore, sending me signals that give me a sense of direction and safety. When I have too many choices about how to spend my time, I choose the options that are aligned with my Wiggles. When I have to engage in responsibilities that drain my energy and feel like a chore, I try to find ways to incorporate my Wiggles into the experiences.
Wiggles can be big or small; they can guide us for the long term or be present only for a short while. They can inform us about who we are, what we do, how we live, and who we love. Wiggles are our birthright. We are all worthy and deserving of living lives that are aligned with our Wiggles.
Stay tuned for more juicy ideas about how to follow your Wiggles for a more fulfilling life!
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