You Know Best
How to pay attention to what your "gut" is telling you
I’m a Life Coach who takes pride in helping people to successfully navigate difficult life situations, and so sometimes my clients will ask me what they should do. It’s most often after we have cleared through their limiting beliefs, unwarranted fears, and self-defeating behaviors. We have gathered all of the pertinent information, done the pros vs. cons analysis and yet still, no clear answer has emerged. It is at that point that I advise them to tune in and listen to their “gut”, for only that can direct them as to the best way to proceed. But what exactly does it mean to listen to your gut?
Simply put, your gut is that inner knowing of what is best for you. It is elusive in nature, but referenced and revered by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Oprah Winfrey, Lao Tzu, and Albert Einstein. It’s your gut that allows you to see and feel situations as a comprehensive whole, comprised of facts and figures, colored with emotions, personal preferences, and historical life experience. The internal compilation of all of this data which translates into an inner “knowing” that is entirely in tune with who you are, what you want, and what will work out best for you. It’s a wisdom that gets lodged in your DNA and is fine-tuned as you age; it is part instinctual and part experiential. Animals have it, rely on it minute-to-minute, and it enables them to survive. Business leaders follow it and for those who heed it with passion such the late Steve Jobs, it can empower them to go on to accomplish great things. Mothers have it, and have been using it for centuries to help keep their children safe. It is a sense when something is not quite right, or when something is just as it should be.
Your gut is entirely in tune with all of you and is thereby is the most enlightened and insightful source of wisdom as to what will work exclusively for you. It’s such an integral part of critical decision making because just as our true essence cannot be captured via an exhaustive Excel spreadsheet, our most important decisions cannot be driven by a simple pros vs. cons list either.
So, how do you tune into and leverage this incredible source of knowing?
The following is an exercise that my clients have found helpful and you may too:
- Sit down and quiet your mind. Make sure that you are not feeling emotionally stressed, or your true inner voice will be distorted.
- Let your mind go blank, trusting that you have done the analysis and had the discussions. It is time to put all of that thinking behind you.
- Once your mind is quiet, focus your thoughts on the question that you are trying to answer.
- How do you feel? Pay attention, check in with each area of your body and listen to what your physiology is telling you.
Do you get an excited and expansive feeling when considering one option as opposed to another, or do you feel confined and tense? Do your shoulders feel loose and large, or tight and constricted? Does your breathing become more rapid or slow down? Don’t judge these physical sensations, just make note of them. Your brain is not your friend when you’re engaged in listening to your gut. Your mind may want to race, shout good and bad messages, and bring up worries and fears. Don’t let it. Just pose the questions, observe how you feel physically and through the summation of such feelings, and the answer will emerge from your gut.
Then practice, practice, and practice to get accustomed to using and trusting this remarkable asset that you have for decision-making. And if you don’t believe me, then perhaps D. H. Lawrence will convince you with his words of wisdom, “The mind can assert anything and pretend it has proved it. My beliefs I test on my body, on my intuitional consciousness, and when I get a response there, then I accept.”
Liz Hoffmann BA, MBA, CPC is a successful Executive and Personal coach and owner of Atlas Coaching LLC in Fairfield. Liz coaches her clients to successfully navigate change and find greater satisfaction in their lives. Her expertise is in relationship challenges, career situations, and health. Her coaching style is fun and interactive, and Liz’s true passion is in helping individuals to shed self-limiting beliefs, negative thought patterns, and unnecessary stress.