The Importance of Trusting Your Gut (And Tips to Do It Right) post image

The Importance of Trusting Your Gut (And Tips to Do It Right)


Many moons ago I fell very hard for a man who was very wrong for me. I was infatuated with him immediately and the symphony of warning bells was drowned out by an inundation of emotions I had never felt before.

Deep down, I knew something was off. I knew I couldn’t trust him and I knew the relationship would end in disaster. I didn’t want to admit it though, and planted my feet firmly in denial-ville. I never felt that way about anyone before and the prospect of him not being on the same page was too painful a pill to swallow….so I didn’t.

In time, my instincts gave me a big “I told you so.” Everything I suspected turned out to be true and the most painful breakup probably in the history of the world (or at least, in the history of my life) followed.

Looking back, it’s frustrating to think how much time, energy, and hurt I would have spared myself had I listened to my instincts. And it’s not just me.

Eric and I noticed that the girls who ask us super long winded questions–padding what could be a simple one sentence questions with a million examples and justifications–are the least likely to take the advice we offer and will instead counter with an equally long-winded rebuttal to everything we have to say (that is, if what we say isn’t what they want to hear, which it probably won’t be since what they want to hear is: “The fact that he never texts you back or won’t call you his girlfriend means nothing, this guy is clearly in love with you and you should expect a diamond ring on your finger any day now!).

The reason we know these girls won’t listen is because all they’re hearing is the clatter of justifications instead of the sound guidance of their gut. They say advice is what you ask for when you already know the answer but wish you didn’t and they are so right!

Your gut is a powerful tool in life and especially in relationships. And as women, we have the upper hand and have been given the gift of “women’s intuition.” It’s something we all possess and it can be fine tuned to work optimally. The way to get in touch with it is to listen to what it’s telling you. Think about how much hurt you would have saved yourself had you listened to that gentle voice that said: “You deserve more than this, you don’t need this guy.”

The voice of your ego is loud and overpowering. It tells you, “Of course he loves you! He told you that you were the most amazing women he’s ever met, so I mean, DUH! He loves you.” Your ego shouts over the noise and convinces you that the outcome you want is reality because it has a lot at stake should this not be the case. Women usually allow their egos to get so entangled in their relationships  that when the relationship collapses, their ego comes crashing down with it and digging yourself out of that rubble is an absolute nightmare.

In a good, strong, healthy relationship, you feel loved and secure. You don’t question whether your man is using you and if the things he says are genuine. You just feel at ease. Feeling constantly on edge, waiting anxiously for the other shoe to drop is usually a sign that something is amiss and your instincts are trying to open your eyes to a reality you don’t want to see.

MORE: How to Have a Healthy Relationship

Our unconscious mind has a whole arsenal of information that our conscious mind doesn’t have easy access to. It has stored up pretty much everything that’s ever happened to us and makes decisions accordingly. Have you ever met someone and liked them right away even though you barely knew them? Or maybe you meet someone who seems perfectly nice, but you just can’t stand them. This is the unconscious at work. The people we’re drawn to oftentimes remind us of people we’ve had positive encounters with in the past. So too with the people we don’t like off the bat.

You can pick up on things subconsciously without even realizing it and it will cause you to have a feeling that you can’t quite pinpoint or explain.

The point is, most of the time you already know the answer. The problem is you wish it was a different answer and instead of accepting it, you whittle away what you know with rationalizations.

Our thoughts and feelings have the power to guide and protect us, but it’s on us to listen to them.

In fact, according to a recent story in New Scientist, “it turns out that because our emotions emerge from our unconscious mind, from our internal supercomputer, they tend to reflect more information than our rational mind.” What this means is our gut instinct can save us from a lot of grief.

Here are a few tips to help you get better acquainted with your gut:

1. Ask yourself a question and listen for the immediate answer. For example, if you’re debating whether or not to dump your boyfriend, ask yourself: “Should I break up with him?” and listen to what first pops into your head. The real answer will most often come first, then the excuses and justifications will pile on top.

2. Make the decision and then listen to your body. If it’s a bad decision you’ll feel an aversion to it, usually in the pit of your stomach.

3. Check with a friend. It can help to get an outsider’s perspective, sometimes we can mistake wishful thinking for our gut instincts. Talk to a friend you trust for a dose of objectivity.

4. Practice mindfulness. Most people live their lives bouncing from one thing to the next- work, errands, happy hour. There isn’t that much time to listen to our own thoughts. Try to stay mindful and conscious throughout the day, check in to see what you’re thinking and feeling. It also helps to set aside some reflection time. You can use this time to meditate, do yoga, journal, take a walk around the park–anything that will give you the space to check in with yourself.

Got more techniques for trusting your gut? Or a time when your gut instinct was totally spot on? Tell us about it in comments!

 

– SABRINA ALEXIS

13 comments… add one

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Melissa

I have learnt the hard way to listen to my gut feeling or instincts . I married a man who had all the qualities I wanted – generous , affectionate, adored me, got on with my children (most of the time), but there was always a nagging feeling something wasn’t right . I didn’t feel like I could trust him and felt that when he was away from me (he travelled a lot overseas and interestate for work ) he would play up given the chance . At home we were happy . Great happy life . Good sex life . We had fun together but every time he travelled I would be physically ill and couldn’t shake that he was playing up . It didn’t make sense to look at us but it never went away. Needless to say we broke up after seven years of marriage and recently he told me he had slept with so many prostitutes when he was in Asia he couldn’t remember how many . He said he wanted me to know because he didn’t want me to think I was going crazy all those years and that my instincts were right . I will always be devastated that my husband did that but also taught me how powerful our inner voice is . I hope this an help other people if they have the same feelings .

Reply August 23, 2016, 6:41 am

Gabriela Martinez

I’ve had the struggle of deciding whether a guy is not worth my time, because I deserve better OR staying with him, because no one is perfect, and he might be the best guy out there.

Reply August 16, 2016, 11:56 pm

lisa

i have to back up Catherine on this one. the objective friend…? ay yi yi… unless they are asking the questions that Catherine suggested, and are offering NO COMMENTS at all… there is no objectiviity… and it is when you are very vulnerable. i have my own horror stories, like marrying… twice! because of what looked good on paper and everyone approved…
i am just learning how to feel my feelings, in different parts of me. learning how to feel in my heart and how to hear my heart. will take the advice here and start to learn to listen to my gut too… (scarey. it never says good things.) but back to talking to someone.. they have been life changing and not in a good way. my last confidant was so biased… at least she was proven so wrong… even she had to admit it, but i have listened to my gut, at last, about her, and dropped her as a close friend. no more ringing her and talking about men instead of to men… i am sure she is just as relieved as i am…
its a process of growing up, i suppose. but i am fifty! (but with asperger’s syndrome, so emotionally, i am much younger than that. but putting the effort into growing up. and i now believe that listening to my heart and gut, not just my head will help alot.)

and i have learned, the really hard way, to listen to my body, for desire / lust… i have married without lust.. (yes. it can happen.) and that was 7 years with KY jelly and pain and guilt. not fair on either of us. but the advice was very strong: “Marry this nice man!” (not his fault and we remain friends, nearly 30 years later.)

so now we listen to: head, heart, gut… and the tingly swollen bits, right? but don’t proceed unless they all agree.

oh, and my face. when i buy a dress, i won’t buy it unless my face is smiling the “i can’t help it” smile. no matter how much other people approve or disapprove. when i have bought because of a friend pushing it and i have not smiled? i always looked and felt crap in the dress in real life. a useful little tip. the body knows…

thank you for the article. and thank you Catherine.

Reply June 2, 2016, 7:10 pm

Peggy

This is a great article. I have had high anxiety in a few dating/relationship situations since I have been divorced. I thought it was just me/nerves/new situations etc .However, I have finally realised that it was my intuition telling me not to trust/rely/believe that the situation was good and was as into me as I was him. Everytime I had the anxiety-it turned out to be an alarm bell that things were not as I wished them to be. So,now I always heed this as a warning and get out or question/clarify the situation!

Reply April 8, 2016, 4:32 pm

Catherine

This article was good except for the tip about asking a friend for objectivity. In my experience this is one if the biggest mistakes people make. You cannot trust anyone but yourself with making decisions that affect your life. I ended up in a tortured relationship because I talked to a trusted friend who just thought she was giving me the best advice. A good friend would either say, sorry, you have to make this decision on your own or ask questions like, what does your heart tell you and I’m here for you if it causes you to feel sad but I would be proud of you for listening to your heart whichever way you go.

Reply November 13, 2015, 2:09 am

Julie Cragg

I’ve had an actual gut feeling in my stomach, a throbbing pang, when I was in relationships where the guy wasn’t truly Interested. I would get this throb of and on, emanating from my middle. I guess it was like butterflies in the stomach. I thought it was a feeling of being in love, but I realized that I was actually tense and nervous because I knew deep down that these guys were playing the fence, and I allowed them to do that!! I’ve learned that when I start feeling this terrible gut pang that I need to end the relationship. When I do, the butterflies stop! So definitely listen to your gut. There is a reason it’s called the second brain.

Reply March 31, 2015, 12:20 am

shante

Yes this article is spot on. I just ended a back and forth “relationship” ive had with a guy for a year and half. It ended with him still owing me money, me having no respect for him and constantly “cursing” him out because he was always disappointing me. he on the other hand felt like he could never satisfy me and the truth was he couldnt from day one. We weren’t compatible and I didnt respect his lifestyle. But I knew this the first day a met him within 3 minutes of talking to him I knew he wasnt what I wanted. But I let loneliness and other peoples opinions sway what I knew in my heart and the result was a yr and a half of off and on headache. I cant even say heartache because he never had my heart our “situationship” was all a fantasy in my head. So my lesson is trust your gut because it is always based on your current reality and not the fantasies you eventually start to create in your head.

Reply February 6, 2015, 12:43 pm

davi

what if you already gone through a break up, during the time alone you realize many things that you truly love her and realize its past relationship and childhood traumas which she never had help with were the fundamental issues in the relationship. realizing this now you feel a subtle urge to get back with her and continue to help her,(which you would rather not for your own good) and she is angry and does not want that, which you are fine with, but the break up wasn’t smooth which you want to fix so you could at least be good friends,or at least for a peaceful mind close on good grounds. your ok with her seeing another guys and you know she is. but occasionally out of the blues you get gut renching feelings about her as if something is terribly wrong, which is so strong it dwells on you to pick up the phone and contact her even when it may not be the best thing due to her enforcing this “leave me alone” attitude and you are trying your very best to do, and you are able to do quite fine until those un-ignorable gut feelings (which feels somewhat detached from you) drive the nuts out of you until you contact her to see whats up (putting up with her games and folly in the process), then you some what start feeling ok again. during this gut feeling you also experience heavy sympathy and affection for her. as if one side is saying get back with her, and another is saying no I would not want that for my own good.

what are these gut renching feelings that push you to check in on someone as if their safety is being threatened?
apologies for the long comment but this seems complex than it really needs to be.
and I rather put it as detailed as possible to get the best possible solution of what’s happening.

Reply January 22, 2015, 3:54 pm

Enough Closeted Gay Men

1. Should I get over this guy? DEFINITELY

2. Is he secretly gay? DOUBTLESS

3. Why is he hanging on, then? NEEDS YOUR ENERGY. VAMPIRE

4. Why isn’t a better man here yet to replace him, then? BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T SAID SO

5. How should I act tomorrow*? DISINTERESTED

*I dumped him a month and a half ago and did total No Contact, a complete systems blackout, on him. He’s reached out through a mutual friend and begged me to meet up with him. The date was set a week ago. It’s tomorrow.

Will attend meeting as act of courtesy, but am moving on.

Reply December 10, 2014, 10:51 pm

CeCi

Great advice. I have done this (after 2 tries lol), it does keep you tuned into yourself and make the transition a lot more smoother!!!

Reply December 5, 2013, 9:41 pm

Jennie

Great article Sabrina! So true, my instincts have been right so many times, I just wished I listened to them!

Reply October 24, 2013, 9:45 am

Jodi

Interesting perspective, and good advice for someone capable of trusting their own instincts. But… What if you have horrid life experiences that cause you to not be able to make such simple assessments, what if you are in fact sabotaging your own relationships with a twisted view of reality and excess baggage you are carrying forward to each new relationship?

Reply October 24, 2013, 1:50 am

Trisha

If you cannot trust yourself to make sound judgements because of past trauma, I suggest getting professional help. These things cannot be overcome on our own.

Reply November 29, 2013, 11:50 pm

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