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Expansion or Constriction? Your Body’s Clue to What’s Right

My wise and funny friend said to me this week…” Argggg!  I keep working really hard to get things I don’t really want.” 

I immediately knew what she was talking about; spending valuable time doing things, wanting things, eating things, buying things, hanging out with things I know I either 1. don’t want or 2. they are bad for me. Arggggg is right!

So how do we rein in our energy in and only use it for things that we love and are good for us?  How do we eliminate those “I-could-of-had-a V-8” moments when we figure out we’ve been going down a dead end?   

It’s simple (even though it may not always be easy.)

The clue is within us; do we feel expansive or constricted?  When we leave the person, finish the task, eat the food, watch the show, get up from the couch, hang up the phone…do we feel good or bad?  It’s really this simple.  But it takes a bit of patience, internal insight and practice to heed the warnings. 

First, lets begin with some definitions. 

Expansive:  Open, exhilarated, happy, solid, joyful, pleased, valid, grounded, vigorous, overjoyed, excited, satisfied, strong, self-motivated, forceful, energetic

Constricted:  choked, guilty, stifled, unsatisfied, shameful, unhappy, gloomy, pitiful, tight, uncomfortable, sneaky, seedy, lecherous, messy, prickly, painful, muted, squashed, miserable, discontent, sad, dejected. 

Just so that you get the point, I’ll go a bit further….

 More EXPANSIVE examples: 

  • Riding in a convertible with the top down
  • Listening to your favorite song
  • Spending time with a good friend with good conversation
  • Exchanging smiles with a baby
  • Laughing until you pee your pants
  • Great sex with someone you care about
  • Finding the perfect present for someone


  • Forgetting an important event
  • Being told that you are bad at something
  • Spending time with whiny people
  • Stepping on the scales
  • Having a credit card denied
  • Hurting someone’s feelings

So Now What? 

You may be thinking….”Well those are obvious Cheri, but what about those in-between moments where things feel good at the time but not so good later?” 

Great question.  I call this place the velvet rut.  (If you want to know what I say about this, you should buy my book.)

There are a lot of things that can fall in this category of things that feel both good and bad.  And it may not be possible to eliminate all the things that leave you feeling constricted.  However, if the majority of the things you do leave you feeling constricted then your life is off balance and things need to change!  If you don’t change things you end up with More Crappy and Less Happy.  Not good.

“But Cheri…I love the Kardashians.”  That may be true…but do they make you feel expanded or constricted? 

“I can’t say no to  Debbie …we’ve been friends for a long time.”   Okay, but how do you feel when you leave her.  Joyful or drained? 

“Everybody is doing Facebook…shouldn’t I be doing it too?”  You know the drill….Expanded or Constricted?

So, for now, begin to discern whether you feel expanded or constricted in these different areas of your life. Start to really listen to your body.

How do you feel around…

  • Different friends
  • Different family members or situations
  • Different aspects of your work
  • Different foods you eat
  • Different issues with money
  • Different people you date
  • Different kinds of buying

Assess how you feel.  Take notes.  Look for patterns.

Then if you are feeling brave…dump some of the tight, yucky-feeling things in your life. 

Remember the goal…More Happy, Less Crappy!


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