Decision Making and Discernment
The gallbladder concentrates the liver’s bile about ten-fold and stores it for release into the small intestine after we have eaten a meal. The bile emulsifies fats and is essential for digesting both proteins and fats. Without bile we would literally starve to death with a full belly.
Our gallbladder system includes the anterior deltoids of our shoulders and popliteus muscles at the back of our knees. It also includes the gallbladder meridians on both sides of our body. The meridians begin in the outside corner of our eyes, go back and forth along the side of our head, and eventually terminate at the fourth toes.
The liver and gallbladder—the two organs of the wood system—work better together than either can separately. The part of our consciousness that resides in the liver is always drawing up plans to manifest whatever we focus on, no matter whether we want it or hate it. Our gallbladder is the part of our consciousness that faithfully executes all the plans that we commit to in the liver.
Within our consciousness, our liver can be likened to an architect, while the gallbladder is like the contractor in the building of a house. Neither is as powerful individually as they are together. Through the liver we develop noble ideals, have wonderful dreams, and make mighty plans. But we still need the contractor’s skills to make all the split-second and long-range decisions that bring our visions to life.
How Form and Function Affects Our Bodymind
Our musculoskeletal system is part of the element of wood. When our liver and gallbladder are healthy, we have elegance in all our movements and flexibility with our tendons and sinews. We exhibit good structure to our logic, which leads to enhanced powers of reasoning. Because the eyes are the end organ of the liver/gallbladder system, our thinking process has the kind of clarity that allows us to “see” our vision. We get our point across clearly to others. We can visualize a positive future for ourselves.
The musculoskeletal system gives structure to our body as well as structure to our plans and dreams. Imbalance in the element of wood often shows up as bad posture, like letting our torso slump and break over, which pushes our head project forward. We might let our feet toe out like a duck. These kinds of postural faults lead to creaking joints, stiffness, and movements that are jerky. Tendons easily sprain. When our posture is poor, the integrity of our thinking process is similarly impaired.
Good posture and flexibility gives our liver and gallbladder the clarity, strength, and adaptability that lead to clear thinking and emotional stability. This stability gives staying power to our attitudes and provides power and flexibility to our beliefs. A strong, flexible body helps to build a strong, flexible mind.
Our liver cannot make sound decisions and create plans that have integrity without the good discernment of our gallbladder system. Each and every plan our liver makes depends upon discernment and good judgments from our gallbladder. We need to make good judgments and discernments about everyone and everything we encounter. For most of us, this is the part of our consciousness that has been most heavily socialized—and compromised.
Good judgment might come into play when we are deciding whether to be friends with someone. Do their values align with ours? They may be exciting to be with, but do their actions and beliefs enhance or detract from our values and principles? Besides me, what kind of people do they associate with? Are they kind? Is this someone who can be stubborn and choose not to do something just because he or she gets an attitude about it? These are the kind of questions a healthy gallbladder asks to keep things honest.
Good discernment from our gallbladder gives our liver the input it needs to make sound, honest plans relative to that person. With good judgement, we can wisely decide how much—or how little—energy we want to commit to that person. Being judgmental is putting someone down or name calling, like saying “He’s a jerk.”
Each moment we stand at the nexus of eternity. Will we choose this or that? Will we go here or there? Our gallbladder is the part of our consciousness where we discern the merits of each decision. The gallbladder's decision-making process shapes our world for better or for ill.
The primary, honest emotion of the gallbladder is resentment. Any time our plans are thwarted, resentment is like saying, “Why can’t I have what I want?” Feeling the resentment dissolves it into nothingness.
If we do not actually feel resentment that comes up—experience it without the brain’s internal dialogue—the internal pressure that builds up pushes less honest feelings like stubbornness to the surface of our consciousness. And we start a long saga of stubbornly arguing for our limitations; believing that someone or something outside us is holding us back, making it so that we can’t do what we want to do.
Other, less honest emotions that come up if we don't actually feel the resentment are feeling galled or repressed. These less than honest emotions transform into entrenched attitudes, defining our reality in more sinister hues. They can hang around for years, for life. We see it in people who incessantly complain about their job, politics, their spouse or kids and everything else.
This is where reframing comes into play. When plans or dreams get thwarted, the first thing we need to do is feel the resentment. The next step is to reframe our plan or dream so we see ourselves having what we desire now, even though it may not actually manifest in the linear world of time for months or years. We see ourselves having it the whole time. Reframing is a tool successful people use quite often.
The Power of the Wood Element
There are nine driving energies of the wood element: hope, vision, future, vitality, exuberance, birth, growth, activity, and regeneration. These qualities exist both outside of you—like a spring rain or the surging, vigorous growth of springtime—and inside of you like the vitality that allows you to complete a challenging goal.
When your wood element is healthy, you can feel the noisy exuberance of your plans and dreams wanting to burst out from within your being. You have vision. You have a bold future to manifest into being. You want to shout it out. Nothing can stop you.
You want a life of action, not one of holding back. Do not hold back for fear of making mistakes. Give yourself permission to make mistakes—even big ones. Mistakes are your greatest teachers. The greatest among us will readily admit that they failed their way to success. When you do something stupidly or in a way you do not like—and learn from it—you learn far more than you can from doing a thousand things right.
When you first start to do something, rarely do you know how it will actually turn out. You may need to think or move in the direction of your dreams for a while before they flesh out into something you can share with others. Have a life of action, not one of holding back.
The more engaged you are with your hopes and dreams, the healthier your liver and gallbladder are, the better your flexibility and stability, and the clearer you can see the visions of what you want. Your noble ideals and magnificent dreams give purpose to your life. They expand the depth and breadth of your character. All this is the function of your liver/gallbladder system (wood) within your bodymind.