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.
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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.
I hope this article helped you learn how to listen to your gut and why it’s so important. There are two more important relationship skills you need to be aware of, though. The first is that at some point In your relationship, your man will start to pull away. You may notice him becoming more distant and less engaged. It seems like he’s losing interest in you and you worry that soon he’s going to just leave. Do you know what to do to get things back on track? If not, read this next: If He’s Pulling Away, Do This...
The next issue arises at that inevitable point when the man asks himself: Do I want to commit to this woman for the long term? The answer will determine everything. Do you know what makes a man see a woman as girlfriend/wife material? Do you know what inspires a man to commit? If not, you need to read this too: The #1 Things Men Desire in a Woman
Got more techniques for trusting your gut? Or a time when your gut instinct was totally spot on? Tell us about it in comments!