Trust Your Gut
“To thine own self be true.”
— William Shakespeare
How can you be true to yourself if you don’t know who you are?
Make choices to support your wellness from a locus of self-control that has been established based on your values which you learned about from the Course on Attention (and reinforced in the Challenge Course) and your growing self-awareness from self-study in the Self-Awareness Course. Self-awareness is what you know about yourself from your study of your body and mind connection, your personality, your interests, beliefs, and your weaknesses and strengths.
When you make choices, ask yourself:
What “feels” right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy? Notice how you feel when you make poor choices (because the body keeps the score…always).
Don’t forget that you are not solely a thinking mind; you have a body—the ecosystem in which your thinking mind is housed.
Notice how your body and “heart center” feels when you make right choices for yourself.
If you pay deliberate attention to these different feelings and “knowings,” as well as the results of your choices, over time through trial and error, this will help you learn to make better choices.
Do the previous Choice Audit activity.
Continuously pay attention to how you choose, what you choose, why, and how the choices enrich or damage you. Over time you’ll slowly learn how to trust yourself— your “gut”or your intuition— to make the best choices possible.
Making authentic choices that support your wellness means being true to who you are. Don’t do things you know are not good for you; don’t lie. Don’t pretend. Don’t betray what you know is true for you and about you. And when you are too afraid to express your uniqueness, gain the courage to express it anyway, despite your fear, for optimal wellness and vitality. Excessive repression can make you sick. Trust that being and expressing yourself is the right thing to do for your wellness. This will, in the end, benefit others even if they can’t see, understand, or accept the truth of you.
When you know more about who you are, honestly, through listening to your inner landscape carefully with loving attention, you will be able to trust yourself and your intuition. Learning, from paying careful and deliberate attention to your experiences, including your failures, struggles, and successes, will teach you more and more about what you need and how to choose best to fulfill those needs, rather than having to rely so much on others to make choices for you.
Simple, not easy
It is a challenge to choose to be YOU and choose what’s right and true for you. For example, your parents may tell you to become a doctor, but you know you love painting. You have to have that difficult conversation with yourself, first, about trusting what you know is right and true for you, and you have to have that difficult conversation with your parents that might cause you great anxiety and fear. This is an example of the challenge involved with being you, living the truth, and becoming the most well and authentic you possible. Making choices to be exactly who you are is hard!
Unfortunately, a large portion of our dominant culture and its values also may be working against you in your journey to authenticity. Advertisers and other manipulative forces are bombarding you with messages that tell you that you are incomplete or that you need to buy this product or have that experience to be more complete, and happy, and whole. Perhaps even your formal academic education is influencing you in ways that may cause un-wellness. Anyone who has ever had made a difficult decision knows from experience that even when rational arguments are laid out, logic used, and lists of pros and cons weighed, it’s not enough nor the whole story about what to do or how to live.
WHAT ARE GUT FEELINGS?
THINK about what you learned about sensations, versus emotions, versus thoughts in the Self Awareness Course. Write about all feelings and all sensations. Write about positive emotions and negative emotions. Now, where do instinct, “intuition” and “gut feelings” fit? Are there differences and/or similarities when you consider all of these things?
If you learn to study yourself to become more discriminating and discerning about your inner landscape, including getting to know “your gut feelings” and intuition, you will also be able to traverse these external landscapes and decipher the impact of their influences on you more effectively. When know yourself better through your self-study, you can trust that you know exactly what you need and what you don’t. What’s healthy, adaptive, and functional and what is unhealthy, maladaptive, and dysfunctional. *This is tricky!
Self-doubt, confusion, resistance, and fear will always challenge you, but if you stay committed to learning about yourself as an ongoing work in progress, your inner knowledge and confidence will grow over time. Good choices will likely far outweigh the bad, ensuring your good health, wellness, and vitality. Don’t let your mistakes and failures dissuade you from continuing to improve your choice-making process. There’s always more to be learned from one’s poor choices (See the Course on Learning).
Make a list of times/events/decisions when you “trusted your gut.”
Make a list of times/events/decisions when you failed to “trust your gut.”
Write about when you trusted your intuition and/or yourself. Describe the circumstances in detail.
How did you feel when you trusted yourself? Can this be a lesson to be repeated in the future? How can you build on such self-trust?
Even if things turned out poorly or unexpectedly, was trusting yourself better than the outcome, or at least valuable for your long-term relationship with yourself?
Write about a time (or more) when you repressed the truth within you. Write about the situation (s) or circumstances and also how you felt as a result of such repression or betrayal of your own truth.
Did you deny your full expression or uniqueness because you did not want to disappoint someone else or upset them?
Did you betray what you knew and felt deep within was true for you because you were afraid to trust your feelings and this way of knowing because it seemed too unconventional or uncommon?
Write about the differences and similarities between trusting yourself vs. trusting others.
Why do we sometimes trust others over and above ourselves?
How do you deal with self-doubt?
Write about your struggles and successes in trusting yourself to make choices, both important and unimportant.
Write about the possibility of “letting go” of trying so hard to make a choice and instead opening yourself up to receiving an “answer.” How might that be or feel?
Have you ever “let go” of trying too hard, thinking too much, while trying to make an important decision and then the choice suddenly became clear or the decision “made itself?” Write about it!