Whether you’re considering a possible new job, judging someone’s honesty, or choosing the right college, your intuition will have an opinion. You may not be able to articulate the reasons for your judgment, but your gut will surely pull you in one direction or the other. If you’re like most people, you second-guess yourself and search for more information and input. While making educated decisions is important, overdoing the process can lead to decision gridlock. In other words, trust your gut!
Studies have shown that people often express regret about two things at the end of their lives: not trusting themselves enough and caring too much about others’ opinions. These regrets are intertwined and highlight the importance of self-trust. Self-trust is an integral part of living as your most authentic self. When we lack self-trust, we rely on external validation to define our identity and guide our actions. Living according to someone else’s rule book won’t lead to fulfillment, only living authentically can do that.
It may feel morbid to think about how you’ll feel at the end of your life, but it’s important to consider. No one wants to look back with regret. When you learn to trust yourself, you realize that you are already enough just as you are. You come to understand that your worthiness of love and happiness doesn’t depend on attending an Ivy League school, making the most money, or hosting record-breaking fundraisers. Trusting yourself is about finding stillness within, listening to your own voice, recognizing it, and honoring it. When you align with your authentic self, the opinions of others gradually lose their significance. While your brain may try to convince you of what you should want, and your heart may get confused while trying to please everyone, your gut instincts won’t lead you astray. The sooner you embrace this realization, the more freedom you’ll have to live life on your own terms.
Trust your instincts
Trusting your instincts isn’t only crucial for making college and career choices; it’s also essential for navigating potentially challenging situations and steering clear of harmful people. Your gut wants to keep you safe, just like the instinctual response of a deer that senses danger and flees before the hunter can spot it.
Have you ever had a gut feeling that warned you about a person’s safety or turned to a friend at a party and knew it was time to leave? Have you ever crossed the street to avoid someone who felt creepy? When your gut is shouting “danger,” it’s time to listen. I share these examples not to instill fear, but to help you connect with the experience of trusting your instincts and following them. Chances are, you’ve done it before. When your gut sends a message, the key is to avoid overthinking and instead receive the signal from your primal self and act upon it. Even if the message doesn’t logically make sense to your brain, it’s essential to trust your intuition.
Learning to listen
To help you tap into your instincts, here are some reflective questions. Write down your answers, study them, and truly understand yourself. Your gut instinct is there to protect you and guide you toward the life of your dreams. So, familiarize yourself with how your instincts communicate with you.
- What does it physically feel like to trust your gut? Are there bodily cues that indicate something important?
- How do you recognize if something is right or wrong for you? Reflect on how your body responds to thoughts, ideas, or people that you know are aligned with your true self.
- Similarly, describe how your body reacts when something doesn’t resonate with you.
- Have you ever ignored your gut instinct? Describe the situation and what happened afterward.
- What lessons did you learn from that experience? What could you do differently next time?
To increase your awareness, consider incorporating practices into your life to clear the mental clutter and enable you to hear your intuition more clearly. Physical activities like running, yoga, or dance can powerfully connect you with your body and gut instinct. Meditation is another valuable tool that aids in quieting the noise and tuning into your inner wisdom. Engaging in physical activity and mindfulness will not only help you reduce stress but also maintain a constant connection with a part of yourself that remains unaffected by external projections and personal anxieties. This will allow you to connect with your wild, wise, animal self—your gut self—and provide the guidance you need.
Learning to trust your gut is an invaluable skill that will serve you well throughout every stage of your life. Embrace it, cherish it, and let it lead you toward an authentic, regret-free life.
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