How many times have you been on the road and sensed that another driver is going to make a certain turn, or that you should take one route to a destination over another? In those circumstances we don’t have long to react and often we go on instinct or ‘gut feeling’.
I believe we’re fast learners but we’re not always so good at TRUSTING ourselves. Life gets clouded by complicating factors such as feelings of guilt or responsibility and the sense that going with your gut means ‘letting someone down’. Often if you follow what your gut is telling you, it means taking a risk, and that’s scary; and sometimes, I find it hard to tell the difference between actual instinct and a deep fear that needs to be overcome.
Though I’m finding as the years advance, I’m getting better at following my gut.
Remember me telling you about the time I was learning to touch-type, back when I was 21 and fresh out of university (The Side Track Trap) I couldn’t find work and needed to secure some PA skills to get me started on the ladder. That time every part of me was YELLING that it was the wrong path for me to take. Looking back, it signifies so much – that feeling of going off your course but doing it because it’s the ‘sensible’ and ‘right’ thing to do – and I use my learning from that experience to this day. I think at that age, I didn’t have the experience or confidence to think around the situation.
Later, I threw myself into an intense relationship with a guy who right from the word go spelled out ‘POSSESSIVE’. My gut right then was telling me at every single moment to get the hell out of the situation before I got any deeper, but I ignored it. I can’t even tell you why, I think I was in a bad place and I thought that I ‘deserved some fun’ with a good-looking guy. I told myself his possessiveness was actually a sign of how much he liked me and wanted to be with me, ergo it was all meant to be. What I got was a truckload of hassle and misery. The man wasn’t just possessive, he was abusive. It took me a long time – and a couple of trips to the ER – to break free. But I did.
That was more like a gut ALARM than a gut feeling.
A few years back when my husband woke up in the early hours with severe and worsening abdominal pain, I knew it was not good. On the phone to a nurse on the hospital advice line, she suggested I make a doctor’s appointment once they opened. I was torn, here was a medical professional and she was not as concerned as I was, maybe I was over-reacting…but I could not bring myself to close the conversation, I knew this was not satisfactory, after a while of verbal tennis (‘can he speak?’/ ‘well, yes, it’s more like a gurgle while he writhes around the colour of window putty’) she reluctantly asked if I wanted an ambulance, YES, I said. My husband had a perforated appendix and was operated on within two hours. Try not to let a ‘professional’ defer your instincts.
Then there have been times that I’ve seen someone I’m close to in a situation that was not good for them but joined them in the rose-tinted spectacle wearing, later to find that the sh*t hit the fan as I had feared. But would speaking up have made any difference? These days, I tend to think, YES, speak up, not in an interfering way but from a place of care and support. Maybe, just maybe, your gut feeling coincides with that other person’s and they’re over-riding it too.
If I allow myself a bit of space and time (what are they?!) to recognise the decoys that get thrown in to confuse our better judgement, to feel what my gut is telling me and then place it in the context of what I have know for sure, the answers come forward clearly and with little fuss.
Last week, I had a stall at a craft event. I was nervous and anxious about it as I hadn’t had a great experience at similar events over recent months. I wasn’t sure I could handle another ‘quiet’ event. But what I did do in preparation was stay focused on what it was I wanted to show and how I wanted to show it. I listened to my gut. I kept to two distinct themes and showed the pieces that were most reflective of where I am now and what I’m about, going forward. It paid off. I had a successful evening and there was a real buzz about my work. That in itself felt GREAT but what I really took from the experience was that I listened to my instincts and they were right.
So what about you? When was the last time you trusted your gut instinct and it paid off? Or maybe there was a time you didn’t follow that little voice in your head. What did you learn from that experience? And how do you know when to trust your gut – and when it’s just fear speaking?
Nikki Newman, 37, from England, currently lives in Qatar, where she moved this year due to her husband’s work. A former teacher and proud mother of 7-year-old Oliver, she’s currently focusing on settling her family into their new lives, while also pursuing her passion for painting. To see Nikki’s work please go to: www.nikkinewmanart.com