10 Times to Listen to Your Gut Instinct.

Via Jennifer S. White
on Mar 18, 2013
get elephant's newsletter
Source: carolinegault.com via Elin on Pinterest
Source: carolinegault.com via Elin on Pinterest

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:

Like elephant Health & Wellness on Facebook.


Ed: Brianna Bemel


About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She's also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.


7 Responses to “10 Times to Listen to Your Gut Instinct.”

  1. Rachel G. says:

    THANK YOU so much for this beautiful article! I am currently struggling with listening to my gut, because what it's actually saying is, "this situation is aligned with what you're needing right now, but it won't be later." Like my intuition tells me things are going to change in a huge way- I am afraid it will be very difficult- but I need to move through this challenge anyway. I know I need to stay out of the future (but I think my hormones are going baby-crazy…) Other than breathing, positive affirmations, and patience… what can I do?
    Namaste and all the best,

  2. Jennifer White says:

    Hmmm, I just might write an article on this: the concept of getting through change. I personally really relate to your thoughts (and especially with being a new mother and change). It sounds like you're on a great track with first recognizing your discomfort with the situation (being honest with your life and your feelings surrounding your life, I think, is a huge step one), and also it's healthy to recognize the dichotomy of both the challenge and the necessity that lies within change. Look at this article as you getting information/thoughts that you were ready for, and that your own intuition led you to (synchronicity).
    Again, I think I might write an article around your question (and if I do I'll post the link under your comment; which thank you so much for by the way). However, a great way to begin accepting, embracing and moving positively into this change is to try to take everything one step at a time. For me, when I look at the big picture it can be extremely overwhelming, but if I take it one day, one morning, one afternoon at a time, it helps—another good step one (and your breath-work and positive affirmations will help you stay present). Good luck and thank you!

  3. Edith says:

    Follow your instinct, your gut, intuition, what ever it may be called. Listen to it, hone that skill, return to that state of trusting yourself the same way we used to as children. At least we did until we were told no, stop, listen. I think life would be different for many of us had we never shut off the openness of our heart, something we now yearn to take back. Because when we do listen, only good things can come, even if it doesn't quite show up the way we expect it.

  4. Jennifer White says:

    Beautifully, beautifully written, and so true. I think one of the saddest (and most artistically inspirational) aspects of being human is how closed off we become as we age. Once we take a look inside and humble ourselves to our reality, it becomes something worth listening to. Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. @undefined says:

    Thanks that was great. 🙂

  6. Peggy says:

    I call it "the nudge" when that little voice says to do — or not do — something. So many times I've found myself saying, "I KNEW I should have …" Now I try to stay tuned in and listen to that little voice. I like to think it's a guardian angel.

  7. chica says:

    There is a difference between true intuition, and assuming something is going to happen. Some people suffer from true paranoia, and they consider everything they’re paranoid about to be a “sign”. This way of thinking has ruined the life of one of my family members. All these “signs” that she believes is intuition, has ruined friendships, got her fired from jobs…and she believes random strangers are out to get her. Because her “gut” tells her this. Not going to music class because your pants got caught in the door sounds more like paranoia than a sign. We can think anything is a sign, but that doesn’t mean it is. Learning to trust your true intuition is extremely difficult. People who are real good at it, are usually called psychics. All psychics really do is learn how to decipher true intuition from random thoughts and assumptions. There are much easier ways to teach yourself to get better at this. For instance, every time your phone rings….guess who it is before picking up. Over time, you will learn to feel the difference between true intuition, and false assumptions growing out of emotions such as fear, love, regret….etc. Trusting your true intuition is a difficult thing to learn how to do, and it takes practice. True intuition is not clouded by emotions. Emotions make us biased.