Today’s post is all about listening to our gut, and I’m not talking the digestive kind – I’m talking the intuitive kind. If you’re facing a tough decision, here are 5 questions to ask when listening to your gut.
I opened up about a tough experience I went through a couple years ago that took a lot of courage and a whole lot of listening to–and trusting–my gut, and one of the main questions I received was how to actually listen to your gut and know if it’s the right feeling to follow. So let’s chat about this!
I know first-hand how difficult it can be to trust that “gut feeling” or listen to your heart when your mind is trying to convince you of something else. I also know what it’s like to be in a position where no matter how hard you try to justify the situation you’re in or decision you’re trying to make, you just can’t seem to shake the feeling that something isn’t right.
What Does it Mean to “Listen to your Gut”?
To me, listening to your gut means listening to the part of you that always knows what’s right. I know that’s a little vague. Let me elaborate.
Everyone has an intuition or an ‘inner knowing’ that’s regularly tapped into, sometimes without realizing it. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve thought to yourself “this just doesn’t feel right” or “something’s telling me I should (or shouldn’t) do this”? Those are moments of tuning into your gut or your instincts. It’s kind of an elusive concept and it isn’t really black or white. Coupled with not always knowing if your “gut feeling” is even reliable, it can be a confusing place to be when you’re trying to make the right decision.
I can’t tell you what’s right for you, but I can help to provide a touch of guidance. Here are 5 questions to ask when listening to your gut.
5 Questions to Ask When Listening to Your Gut
1. What is my initial gut reaction when I imagine both (or all) decisions?
Take a moment to think about your decisions. Remove all thoughts about them and just focus on the split-second reaction you feel when you weigh your options. Your initial reaction can give you lots of insight into what might be best.
To dive even deeper, imagine yourself living in both – or all – possible decisions. Which one feels relieving, liberating, calming, exciting? Which one feels heavy or uncomfortable? Alternatively, which decision feels expansive or contractive? In other words, notice which one makes you feel a pull toward it, or a push against it. Tuning into these feelings will help you familiarize yourself with your “gut feelings” or intuition.
2. Is the fear that’s holding me back realistic or imaginary?
Often we are afraid of outcomes that aren’t even likely, let alone realistic! I’m sure you can think of many times that you’ve been nervous about something but your fears didn’t even come close to what happened in reality. Are the fears surrounding your decisions actually realistic? Or are they deep-seated insecurities disguised as convincing truths? Here are some common examples of unrealistic fears that tend to hold us back:
- If I leave this unhappy relationship, I’ll never meet anybody else
- I don’t want to try something new, or do something different, because I might fail (or I might not like it, etc.)
- I don’t want to ask because they might get annoyed (or angry, or reject me, etc.)
- They’re going to judge me if I do this (or say this, or wear this, etc.)
Each of these are rooted in fears of uncertainty, loneliness, rejection, pain, or failure and often accompany “what if’s”. What if’s are powerful little phrases. If you’re a perpetual what-iffer, turn your what if’s into positive ones. Instead of “what if I fail?”, try “what if I succeed and amazing things happen?”
For more kickass tips on how to overcome fears and move forward, I highly recommend checking out the book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
3. Do I have to convince myself?
Often when something isn’t right for us, we try to justify it or convince ourselves it is right, but we’ll likely come full circle and question it again and again and again. Take a moment to think about the decision you’re trying to make and if you seem to keep questioning it even after you think you’ve made your decision. This dizzying cycle can go on for weeks, months, or even years.
When issues repeating themselves, it can sometimes mean we need to explore what it is that we keep questioning, in order to put it to rest.
4. What are my reasons?
What are your reasons for making the decision(s) you’re facing? Are you:
- Choosing the easy road or settling for familiarity?
- Choosing a path that you feel drawn to?
- Doing it to better yourself or improve a situation?
- Doing something because you feel guilty or pressured to?
If applicable, consider if the choice you’re making involves short-term gain (temporarily easy and comfortable) but long-term pain (makes things difficult in the long run), or short-term pain (temporarily difficult) but long-term gain (makes things easy and comfortable in the long run).
5. What would make me happy?
This last one is pretty general, but it’s important nonetheless to consider what would make you happiest. Although there are always pros and cons to weigh, everything aside, if you had no fear and there were no repercussions, what would make you happy? What do you truly want? What is your ideal situation or outcome? Being open, honest, and vulnerable with ourselves is key.
Grab a pen and paper and write out everything that’s on your mind. use this as a basis to guide you in the right direction.
We can’t always know with certainty if we’re going to make the right decision, and in many ways, there’s never really a wrong one. Sometimes exploring your discomfort is a good thing and we can often learn what’s best for us by taking a chance and making a decision one way or another. If there is one lasting comment I will make on the topic of listening to your gut, it’s that I’ve never regretted it.
I’m curious: what has helped you listen to your gut? Have you ever been in a tricky situation and decided to follow your instincts? Share below!