‘Agency’ is the term for the feeling of being in charge of your life: knowing where you stand, knowing that you have a say in what happens to you, knowing that you have some ability to shape your circumstances.
Agency starts with ‘interoception’, an awareness of your subtle, sensory, body-based feelings: the greater that awareness, the greater your potential to influence your life.
Body awareness connects you with your inner world, and puts you in touch with the transitory nature of your feelings and perceptions. Simply noticing your annoyance, nervousness or anxiety immediately helps you to shift your perspective and opens up new options in place of automatic, habitual reactions.
When you pay focused attention to your bodily sensations, you can recognise the ebb and flow of your emotions and, with that, increase your influence over them.
Self-regulation depends on having a friendly relationship with your body. Without it you have to rely on external regulation – from medication, drugs, alcohol, constant reassurance or compulsive compliance with the wishes of others.
Your sense of agency, how much you feel in control, is defined by your relationship with your body and its rhythms. Your waking and sleeping and how you eat, sit and walk define the contours of your days.
In order to find your voice, you have to be in your body – able to breathe fully and able to access your inner sensations. This is the opposite of ‘dissociation’, of being ‘out of body’ and making yourself disappear. It is the opposite of depression.