March 18, 2013

10 Times to Listen to Your Gut Instinct.

I was getting ready this morning to take my little girl to her music class when I heard the plunk, plunk of freezing rain.

I was not excited.

My husband had to leave early for a morning meeting and I asked him to start our car. I was trying to throw myself together quickly after our bath. (I just about always start my day by sharing a bath with my little lady; I highly recommend this over a second cup of coffee for enthusiastic energy.) Anyway, I was trying to hurry so as to not leave the car running for too long.

I noticed how heavy the freezing rain had become as we headed out the front door, and the back of my shoe caught on the corner of the door. This has never happened.

My instant reaction was this is a sign to stay home.

Instead, I got in my car and backed out of our garage. I already felt the slip and slide of my tires as I rolled down my driveway.

Afraid, I stopped the car, and my shoe catching on the front door sprung to my mind’s eye. I pulled back into the garage and walked back inside, with my confused toddler in tow.

We can make up her music class on Wednesday morning. What’s the point of risking injury when my gut is flashing neon lights of warning?

It got me thinking about all the times throughout my day—much less my life—when my internal instinct is trying to tell me something and I either listen or I ignore it. You know, those small things during our days that end up making up our lives

Here’s a list of 10 occasions I came up with when it’s important (but not always easy) to listen to your gut.

1. Shut your yapper. There are times when I want to speak sharply or caustically in the fit of the moment and my inner guide says, “Stop!” Unfortunately, I can think of several times I wish I had listened.

2. The road less traveled. There are absolutely moments when my inner driver has steered me down a different route to my destination (literally while driving). The occasions when I haven’t listened and instead gone my usual way haven’t, so far, brought me major distress. However, often I get stuck behind a garbage truck or the road is down to one lane as a tree-cutting crew works along the power lines—and I almost always wish I’d listened to myself because there was really no negative reason not to.

3. Your child. My daughter is the reason I began listening strongly to my instincts again. Something is telling you not to walk away for that split second to grab your coffee from the next room, and you wish you’d adhered to your own advice when she trips and falls. Just a hypothetical example, of course. There are also other times when I’ve listened to my internal mother’s intuition—which began on day one—and I’m so thankful. Especially if you’re thrown into an experience with someone such as a physician, who can sadly be an intellectual bully, you might be less inclined to trust your own parental voice. Make sure you remember that no one has a better “degree” in your child’s behavior than you.

4. Don’t buy that. This might sound silly, but how many times has your voice of wisdom suggested you not purchase that handbag or pair of shoes and you bought it anyway—then that item sat in your closet unworn and unloved. What a waste of money—and what a waste of a great chance to listen to your intuition.

5. Don’t eat that. Your inner voice is a great wellness coach. My instinct very rarely encourages me to eat two extra cookies or have a third glass of wine. Just sayin.’

6. Talk to her. Another instance when intuition frequently becomes obvious to me is when I meet someone that I know, on a deeper level, I could be friends with. I then have the choice to either say Hi and begin a conversation—or not.

7. Do this not that. For me, this usually relates to my child. I might feel like looking at so-and-so’s stupid Facebook pictures for a couple more minutes, but then I look over at my little girl, who’s climbed down off of my lap and is now handing me a book to read. My instinct doesn’t tend to say, “Jennifer, go ahead and ignore your daughter and click on that photo.” Still, how many of us are guilty of putting the people in our lives on the sidelines for significantly less important things?

8. Stop it! For me this relates to my temper (and also relates to #1). I’ll begin to get angry when my better self says, “Halt! Leave the room for awhile!” Oh man, are there sooooo many times I wish I’d listen. I try extremely hard to now.

9. Try it! That book club at your yoga studio or that cool class a friend invited you to attend: things that are on your wish-list of desired experiences that you put on the backburner for no real reason. This came up a couple weekends ago when I was invited to dinner and an inspirational movie with fellow yoga instructors. I desperately wanted to go, but I knew that it would be a challenge for my small daughter and husband to be gone a second night that week. When I mentioned it to my hubby, though, he was actually annoyed that I had considered saying no. Life is too short to constantly say “No” to things that we really want to experience, especially if these experiences are healthy and enriching.

10. Get out of that job. Many of us are stuck in positions out of pure necessity. We have families and houses and bills to pay—all of us. Yet, a few years ago, when my husband toyed around with getting a second master’s degree in order to switch to a field, and a job, that had been calling his name for years, I said, “Full steam ahead!” Why? Because surely additional student loans and all of the stressful aspects of returning to student life were concrete reasons to turn his opportunity down, but thinking of all the years that he has left in the work force was the only reason I needed to encourage him to say yes. Say “Yes” to bettering your life, even when it’s hard—especially if your inner voice is behind it.

Ultimately, there are many times throughout our daily life when we have distinctly clear opportunities to head down one path or another, and often, if we listen, there’s a (granted sometimes almost inaudible) voice inside that’s trying to help us know exactly what to do. What I’m suggesting is that you begin to listen and take note of the consequences.

God gave us brains for a reason, and we certainly need to listen to our intelligent rational reasoning, but much of life isn’t easily defined into “this is good” or “this is bad.” Rather, we have a few great options, and all of them have benefits and disadvantages—and these constantly presented circumstances are the ones that ask us if we have the guts to listen to our gut.

Maybe you need to hone your listening skills. I know I do.

Give it a shot and see what unfolds for you in your life.

I’ll leave you with a quote by one of our best-known thinkers (who happens to be a lesser known proponent for listening to your intuition), Albert Einstein.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

And, if you can’t quite hear your gut, take one minute and mediate:

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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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