“Trust your gut. Follow your intuition. Go with your instinct. What’s your body telling you?”
These phrases are used so often that they are a part of our every day vocabulary. Despite this, we are often quite bad at following our instincts. Especially as adults. Kids rarely need anyone to tell them to trust their gut because they inherently do. However, over time their ability to pick up on their instinct starts to get challenged, until they no longer or rarely listen to that instinct anymore.
I’m oversimplifying this, but essentially if you don’t use it, you lose it. Not following my gut has gotten me into some very uncomfortable situations.
About 12 years ago I was living in Boston and was walking home after a snow storm with my roommate. There was a man walking way too close to us trying to make conversation. My gut was telling me I needed to be as far away from this person as possible. He was making me uncomfortable and didn’t seem to pick up on or care that we looked incredibly uncomfortable. However, I shut down my instinct because I didn’t want HIM to feel uncomfortable. I’m not kidding. This man who I had never met was walking way too close to my friend and I, being overly presumptuous but I didn’t want to make HIM uncomfortable. Not surprisingly, he ended up asking if he could come over and hang out with us. At this point my friends’ instinct kicked into high gear, and she yelled, “RUN!” Not wanting to appear impolite, I yelled to him, “Sorry, but we have to go.” We starting running down the street to our house only to hear him running behind us saying, “Yep, still following you.” CREEPY. We managed to get into our house before he could get to us. We were immediately met by our other roommates who scoped the area for us afterwards. Thankfully we never saw him again.
As we processed what happened, I thanked my friend for following her gut. I was so irritated with myself that I had been trying to be “polite.” We were able to unpack that a bit. As kids, if we had been around someone who made us uncomfortable we might have hid behind our mother’s leg, right? But you can’t do that as adults. You “must” be polite. In fact, ignoring someone is considered rude in polite society.
But what I learned that night was to not let my manners override what my gut was saying. I decided on that day, that I would much prefer to be safe, than be worried if a stranger thought I was rude. While I realize for some of you this is an obvious “Duh!” for me (at the time) it mattered SO much what anyone thought of me. Stranger, friend, mailman, you name it. So giving myself permission to choose safety over niceties was huge.
Now if you’ve read other posts on this blog, you will notice that I have since been in situations where my safety was compromised. So I’m by no means killing it in the intuition department. However, I’m hopeful that by writing about it and reminding us together that our intuition is vital, you and I will continue to get better at paying close attention to what our gut is telling us.
We’ve got this.
Take care of YOU.