My therapist said to me that for some reason, when women turn 30, we learn to finally listen to our gut. I thought this was interesting, because the proudest I have felt of myself was when I trusted my gut, which led me to protecting and standing up for myself, my values, and my principles. And I had just recently turned 30 when that happened. Recently, I was faced again with a situation that had my gut screaming at me and I knew I should just go with it, but it can be so hard to be sure. I was trying to be logical. So, here's what I've learned about listening to your gut and how to listen to your gut.
I'm sure many of you can relate to having a gut feeling, then doing something that is not what your gut is telling you to do, and realizing later that your gut was right all along. Why do we do this? I suppose maybe it seems irrational to lean on an instinct and not necessarily rational, logical, thoughts. Yet, I have found that my instinct is nearly always right. I was wrong recently when my gut told me my best friend is pregnant with a girl, and it turned out she is having a boy, but that's inconsequential. So, here's what I've learned to do to help me make the decisions that eventually lead me to feeling good about myself and without compromising my values and principles.
Recognize Your Gut Feeling
When my gut is screaming at me to listen to it, it's like a heavy ball sitting in my stomach, as if I've swallowed a mini watermelon. Something feels innately wrong or innately right and I tell myself to lean into it. Of course, the self-doubt creeps in and I sometimes need reassurance from others.
Consult Trusted Friends and Mentors
In general, I am someone who likes to gather opinions and then form my own. I suppose that's why law school was a good choice for me. I like to ask questions and hear different perspectives. When I do this, I've noticed if I have a really strong gut feeling about this, I'm often not actually searching for their opinion or advice per say, but their validation of mine by hopefully aligning with what my gut is telling me. These trusted friends and mentors tend to share the same values as me which leads to a likely chance of them having the same opinion as my screaming baby watermelon gut. And that is a sign of what I know I should do. I suppose it helps to hear it from people with more experience and expertise than myself.
Do The Instinct Test
I just learned this from a friend actually. She crumpled up a piece of paper and hid it in one hand behind her back. Then she laid out her fists for me and I was to choose one. The idea is that my answer is in my gut reaction to whatever I chose. So, in this case, the crumpled paper represented me saying "yes" and the empty hand represented me saying "no." What would my reaction be if I chose the crumpled paper and what would my reaction be if I chose the paperless hand? Before she even made me choose, I already knew I did not want the crumpled paper. I did not want to move forward in my situation. And that's how I also knew what my gut was telling me to do and what I should do. Of course, I chose the hand with the crumpled paper and I immediately wanted to knock it out of her hand.
Nothing is Worth Compromising Your Values
Perhaps because I work in a pretty messed up and crooked industry, I sometimes can't help but question if I'm making bad business decisions by sticking to my values and principles. However, I was reminded that nothing is worth compromising your values and principles. I was also told by one of my mentors and friends, that "the best revenge is doing something bigger and better." And serendipity, maybe have already brought me just that.
In the end, sometimes these situations are meant to just be learning experiences, great and useful learning experiences even. Even once I've made up my mind, sometimes taking the final step to committing to the decision can be nerve-wracking, but as soon as I do, and I know I've followed my gut instinct and stuck to my values, I feel a sense of relief and weight lifted off my shoulders.
Listening to your gut isn't always easy. In fact, I'm not sure if it's ever easy. And there have certainly been times where I've still ignored my gut hoping for the best. Yet, with each time I do listen to and trust my gut, I feel more empowered because I've stuck by my values and stood up for myself. So, trust your gut!
If you don't stand up for yourself, who will?