A few months ago a woman called from Arizona. She asked if I’d consider presenting at a conference she was putting together.
In my mind the answer was clear. This was a great opportunity. They were going to pay my way, pay my fee, and give me the chance to test out a whole new crowd.
In my mind it felt like a nice win. My mind, in fact, was ready to do one of those celebratory fists pumps.
Something was wrong.
Another part of me, the one separate from my mind, the one deep in my stomach, began to twitch. I had a moment of doubt, one that told me to look deeper, to consider if this was really a good idea, to ask more questions.
How did I handle it?
With little time to spare and lots of bills to pay, I hastily ignored the twitch and I signed right up.
And…the conference was awful.
The group putting the event together was completely disorganized. They didn’t respond to my emails, had the wrong presentation loaded up on the screen when I got there, and waited until the last minute to book my flight home (positioning me in the dreaded middle seat…which I hate. See my post When Others Tell You Way Too Much).
It wasn’t until I got back home, heavily sighing and more than a bit cranky that I remembered the twitch.
That twitch had been my gut.
That twitch had been a gift.
And I chose to ignore it.
Now, you might be thinking this post doesn’t pertain to you – either because you’ve got this gut thing figured out or because you believe you somehow missed out on the receiving end of this gift altogether.
Either way, I encourage you to stay with me as I present a few quick nuggets on the subject.
In fact, I’m confident your gut is telling you to stay with me.
And that it’s right.
Gut Nugget #1: Just what is our gut?
Our gut is our guiding beacon, the deep signaling system inside us.
It’s a feeling…the one associated with that ever-elusive “sixth sense”, the intuition that steers us toward and, perhaps more often, away from things and people.
Our gut is a gift. It knows things we don’t, senses things about people and opportunities we can’t see on the surface.
It encourages us to do great things. It protects us from problems.
The issue is that we don’t use our gut right.
Some of us don’t know we have it and so don’t access it at all.
Others know it’s there but stubbornly refuse to listen to it…choosing instead to think things out logically, to go with what makes sense, with what we think we should do.
Which we then regret.
To ignore this gift is to ignore a key to happiness in our life…a key that tells us big things like whether or not this is the right job or person for us…and small things like whether or not this is the right blog topic to write. (Seriously, it tells me.)
Gut Nugget #2: Just what does it feel like when our gut is talking to us?
Here’s what I can tell you about my gut…which reflects the same sentiments I’ve heard from others.
When my gut encourages me to do something, when it gives me the proverbial thumbs up, it feels like a casino roulette wheel when that little ball settles into the slot.
The message? Wonder no more. This is right.
When my gut is steering me away from something, that’s when the twitch happens. It begins, literally, in my gut…but it doesn’t stop there.
It sends a signal of discomfort to my brain, a warning in the form of a doubt. And it’s persistent.
The message? Beware…this might not be what you think. Consider other options.
Gut Nugget #3: How do I get my gut to talk to me?
Sometimes our gut will let us know what it thinks whether we ask it or not…and whether we like it or not.
When that happens we just need to listen to it. Then follow it, despite what our minds, our friends and our cost/benefit analysis all tell us.
Other times we are faced with a dilemma and would love our gut’s opinion.
What then? Follow these steps…
- Stop thinking logically for a second
- Take a deep breath
- Clear your mind (difficult for people like me.)
- Ask yourself the question
- Wait for a second (difficult for people like me)
- Listen with your mind
Did you catch that last step?
Listen with your mind…don’t think with it. This is more passive than active.
You are seeing what pops up for you. It might feel like a fleeting thought will float in, like it might not matter. Pay attention anyway. Then follow the answer.
Not getting an answer?
Don’t just ask the question, but present yourself with both options. Picture yourself in both situations and with both sets of people. Picture yourself if you go with an opportunity…or pass it up and do your usual thing instead.
See how the two pictures unfold in your mind. See how you feel as you consider each one. Do you feel content? Nervous? Excited? Stressed?
One will feel better to you. That’s probably the one you should go with.
Wrapping it up
Acknowledging and using your gut takes practice.
I practice every day – and often mess it up (which is, remember, how I wound up in the middle airplane seat, exhausted and frustrated).
This week, remember you’ve got a gut. Remember it’s a gift. Practice using it.
I promise you it’s there. I promise you it works. I promise you that you can tap into it more.
I promise you that, when you do, making decisions can get a whole lot easier.
And your day can get a whole lot happier.
Now, go do good…and do it well.
20 thoughts on “The Gift You Don’t Know You Have”
I love this post!
Thx for sharing this affirming wisdom!
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks so much, Jocelyn…so pleased you enjoyed it!
Thank you Deirdre for such words of wisdom. What helps me to know if something is right for me is a peace with my decision or choice. That comes from the gut and as you so elequently put it, stop and listen, like a quiet meditation.
Thanks so much! I agree that peace is a wonderful defining characteristic that you are where you need to be. Great point!
This showed up with perfect timing…I was JUST discussing this last night! I’m a big supporter of listening to my gut and need to do it more often. Thank you!!!
Thanks for your comment, Erica. I think we all could listen to it more…Heck, I preach this stuff all the time and look at what I just got myself into! 🙂
I agree with you Deirdre, about the whole gut. Would you say that the gut and the heart are the same thing in this case?
I hear people say, listen to your heart and follow it. What are your thoughts?
What a great question. I actually think the two are somewhat different. I think our heart is capable of great sympathy and compassion, in the same way our mind is capable of great logic. All of these can guide our decisions in certain directions, which in the end might not be best for us. For example, we might extend ourselves far beyond our capacity because we have compassion and want to help others, but that might not be best for our health or our families in the long run.
What do you think about this?
I don’t think our heart would allow us to extend ourselves beyond our capacity because it would contradict itself in doing what’s overall best for our health and families. I think that over extending ourselves because in the name of compassion to the point it hurts us is a result of our intellectual desire to fill a void in ourselves that we justify by “helping” others, but is actually not really serving us or others. Just a thought to consider. The mind plays tricks on our ‘reality/perspective’ 😉
You have such a unique way of expressing your ideas – love your writing! I have “listened to my gut/gift” many times and your words ring very true!
Thanks so much, Sally…I appreciate your kind words on my writing and am so pleased you found the message resonated with you!
I hear what you’re saying, Jose…interesting to think that sometimes our heart might be masking as our head. I don’t think I’ve thought of it that way before – and just have thought that when I make decisions based on emotions alone that isn’t always my best outcome. Good point!
Deirdre, I agree we all need to practice listening to our gut and you make some very good points in this article. I believe there is definitely something to the saying “I have a gut feeling”. Now I need to learn how to listen to my gut, and not just when I am hungry. 🙂
I also attended “5 Tips to Engage Anybody at Anytime” luncheon at La Jolla Commons yesterday and I wanted to tell you I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love your speaking style , you kept my attention the entire time.
I hope to hear you speak again soon.
🙂 I agree, Glenn…hunger can definitely get in the of making a good “gut” decision. Thanks for your comment, and for your kind words about the presentation. I’m so pleased you found it to be a good use of our time!
Deidre, I love this post – so right on, and important! I recently learned that neuroscience is finding that we have a type of neuron in our hearts and guts – so that we are actually “thinking” of a sort when we listen to our selves and our intuition in this way. Great post!
Thanks so much for your comment Hanna! I’m also learning more and more how science plays a role in our overall “wiring” and what that means when we feel things at a deeper level. So interesting – and great point!
Great reminder to tune into all your senses… ESPECIALLY when evaluating opportunities. We need every advantage when it comes to subjective decisions and really listening to your wise, inner, non-verbal voice can provide a world of additional information.
Agreed! Sometimes life feels like such a logical toss-up, that paying attention to every sense is what we need to best move forward. Thanks for your comment Heidi!
I use this strategy more than I’d like to admit because I find that when I “think” my way into something, the decision is usually made from a place of greed or pride. Your gut will never lie to you if you (like you recommend) learn how to listen to it.
Thanks for your honest feedback, Natasha – I think your experience is true for many of us. We just don’t like to admit it!