There’s a lot of advice out there. It’s easy to get lost in it all. Maybe you find yourself heading to Google every time life throws a difficult decision at you, sifting through pages of expert opinions, research, blog posts and message boards. You’ll find endless answers, from various experts, and likely, get overwhelmed and end up right where you started.
That’s the thing about advice. It’s situational. Every experience is unique, and results vary. It can help to read it, and sometimes to take it, sure, but what if looking outside of ourselves for answers is actually preventing us from getting in touch with the real answers, and the things we know deep inside our soul?
No matter how many friends you poll, how many therapists you see, or how many life coaches you work with, none of them have access to your deepest, truest knowing. Only you do. I’m talking about your intuition, of course.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to trust my gut.
Your gut, your intuition, your higher self, whatever you want to call it, has the answers you seek externally. You already know the answers. Sometimes you won’t listen. Maybe your intuition feels off after years of suppressing it, twisting yourself to be polite and likable, and putting up with gobs of bullshit in the process. Don’t feel bad, our world often discredits our gut in favor of experts, advice, politeness, social norms etc.
Our intuition is a magical gift we are blessed with, but we are taught to dismiss it from a young age, and we can lose touch with this very valuable gift along the way. They didn’t mean it that way. I’m overreacting. I’m being too sensitive. You need to lighten up. That’s a terrible idea, so many people have failed at it before. You’re just being paranoid. Be polite. Sound familiar?
Trust your gut.
It seems overly simplistic. Perhaps, if you’re not used to or comfortable tapping into your intuition, it might feel downright confusing. How do I listen to my gut? How can I tell what it’s saying? I don’t think my gut talks, how do I get it to talk!?
Don’t worry, we’ll get to that.
The single best piece of advice I’ve ever received (or given) is to listen to your gut. It’s never wrong. Even if it leads you seemingly astray, it’s typically because there was a major lesson there you had to learn, even if it stung a little. Sometimes, too, we need a little practice tapping into our intuition after years of dismissing it. It can sometimes take a little trial and error.
Differentiating Between Your Heart, Your Gut, and Your Mind
I used to say “follow your heart” but your heart isn’t the same as your gut. They’re literally located in different areas of the body, and it’s not just a figure of speech. We really do feel things in different parts of our body.
In the Western world, we learn to separate the mind and body as if they are completely different entities. The truth is, our brain is just another organ in our body and it’s all very much connected.
Our heart sometimes loves people that are not good for us. Our heart sometimes wants to love the person who betrays us, disrespects us, and cannot show up as someone who can meet our needs. Our hearts have so much love, our hearts want to forgive, our hearts want to see the best in others. There’s a lot of value in that. Keep your heart muscle strong.
Our mind knows things like alcohol or shopping sprees helps numb our pain, forget our troubles, and feel better in a matter of minutes. Your gut isn’t telling you to drink or shop. Your mind just knows it will provide quick relief, even if you suffer long term consequences.
The gut knows better. The gut is that little feeling deep in the pit of your stomach that says, “no girl. turn around. this isn’t gonna end well and we both know it. Something isn’t right here. Something feels off.”
The gut is that voice that tells you to stop your hike short suddenly, because it senses a threat.
Your gut knows you are being watched even when you can’t see it with your own eyes, and then you turn around and sure enough, someone was watching you.
Your gut knows what your next move is.
Your gut knows what you should do if you’d just freaking listen to it already!
Think About It
Have you ever been betrayed by someone, or ended up in a shitty situation, and then said to yourself, “I had a feeling this would happen.” Perhaps some less-than-savory news comes out about a person and you just knew something was off, and you weren’t surprised.
Or maybe you take a big risk, like selling all your belongings to travel the world, or you move across the country to travel the world, or you quit your job, and even though you’re scared shitless and know you might crash and burn, it all turns out beautifully, and you look back and think, “thank God I didn’t stay,” as you picture how mediocre your life would have been.
That’s your gut.
So, how do you learn to trust your gut?
I like to sit in a quiet room, or lay down, and literally put my hand or hands over my lower abdomen and take a few deep breaths. I clear my mind, and I think about the issue at hand.
If it’s a decision I’m having trouble making, I think about option A, and see if I have a gut reaction. Then I think about about B, and see if I feel anything.
Typically, you won’t get intense feelings, so it’s important to get quiet and really listen. Often it’s just a faint knotting feeling versus a calm feeling, or perhaps feeling warm versus feeling cold. If my gut gets a little nervousness or knot feeling when I think of option A, but it feels calm and steady when I think of option B, I go with option B. The answer is the option that feels good.
You will learn to talk to your gut and how it speaks to you and with practice, it will get easier to understand.
If you have a “funny feeling” after a job interview, that’s your gut warning you.
When you feel calm, relaxed, warm, and at peace, your gut is on board.
When you know, you know.
Learn to quiet your mind. Our mind so often plays tricks on us, and it’s so easily stimulated in today’s modern world where we are constantly seeking entertainment and distraction with our phones. Practice spending time in nature without your phone, practice meditation or breath work, practice being in the moment and feeling the sensations of your clothes on your skin, your feet on the ground, the breath in your lungs, the scents around you, and the colors you are seeing. Learn to quiet your thoughts so you can hear your gut.
Sometimes, life makes us nervous and jittery about new things, scary things, etc., so it’s important to learn to differentiate from nervousness and gut warnings.
Nervousness typically feels higher up, above your belly button in the “butterflies” region, or sometimes in your chest or your throat.
Your gut will notify you lower, in the lower abdomen, typically near or below your belly button.
See What Happens
Watch how your life changes, and how decisions become easier when you learn to trust your intuition.
So next time you’re faced with a difficult decision, or aren’t sure about a new person in your life, a new job, or a living situation, see what your gut says. If it has something to say, it’s typically trying to warn you. If it has nothing at all to say, or seems content and chill, go on with your bad self and proceed.
Start consulting your gut more often. The more you do this, the more clear you will become. My gut has gotten so clear over the years I can often freak people out with it, which is actually quite fun. Your intuition is a gift you were born with and it has to be nurtured.
Society often encourages us to ignore our intuition, and so we get used to mistrusting our own gift, and our inner compass can get a little out of whack.
You can fix it. It might take some time, but you can find your inner guidance system again.
You don’t have to seek the answers outside of yourself. No one knows you better than you. We’re all just winging it, figuring out this life stuff as we go along, even the experts. You have the answers inside you if you just get really quiet and listen.